Happy Chickens = Happy Eggs! Posted on 19 Apr 09:58 , 0 comments
How to increase egg production during the winter season:
We love the fresh eggs our free rang chickens give us every day! At one point during the summer, we were getting 14 eggs a day out of 12 laying hens. My oldest quickly began selling a dozen eggs a day to friends, neighbors, and her teachers. The hens were doing just fine until the end of the fall season when, all the sudden, we were finding only 6, then 4, and then finally only 2 hens were earning their keep!
Never did I think I would actually have customers on backorder for eggs! We ended up giving every egg we had to our waiting buyers, leaving us with none, so I went on the hunt for a solution. I turned to the Encyclopedia of Country Living as well as online, at Living the Country Life. I already knew that during the winter months egg production would slow down due to the lack of sunlight. One solution I found, is to add a light to the inside of your coop. The only problem with that, is during the summer we moved our coop further away from the house, and thus further away from an electricity source. So for me, that was out of the question, though in the future I will be looking for solar power alternatives. That left me with three other options: increase their feed, add some extra nutrients, and fluff up their nesting boxes.
Step One: Feed them girls good!
Our free range chickens’ grazing area had gone from a plentiful buffet, to slim pickings during the end of the fall season. This led me to the conclusion that I needed to increase the amount of feed/pellets in the feeder that stays inside their coop. Now I bring one scoop full of feed every time I go to gather eggs.
Step Two: Add Calcium and give them a snack!
My hens needed a little more calcium to help keep those eggs coming; so I just added some oyster shell into my scoop, mixing it with the feed.
I also increased the amount of scratch I give them as a snack. Scratch is just cracked corn that is high in carbohydrates and will keep them warm, while also giving them something to do, lol!
Don’t stop your table scraps from coming! Not only do my chickens love getting the veggie bits I didn’t use, or the ones my kids left on their plates, but it keeps perfectly healthy veggies and fruits from ending up in the garbage.
Step Three: Fluff the nest!
Who doesn’t feel good sitting down in a nice clean room! Well, your girls do too!
We used a concrete board (the same used for titling floors, you can find them at your local hardware store) as the flooring for our coop. It is strong and easy to clean when it comes time to change their bedding/floor cover. Using an old broom pan (reduce/reuse), I scooped out the old cedar shavings, poured them into a bucket, and emptied it out into my compost or garden (all of the waste that has built up over the past season is great for the garden). I then added one whole bag of fresh shavings, spreading it around, and making a thick layer across the coop floor (in the summer season I would put a thinner layer).
After the coop was prepared, I moved on to the nesting boxes. Once again, I cleaned out every nesting box placing the old bedding into my bucket and then emptying it into the garden. I then place fresh hay into each box, layering it thickly on the bottom and raising it up along the edges. Now their coop is clean and warm!
All I could do now was wait. To my surprise and delight, I found 4 eggs the next day, then 5 the next, and then. As of right now we are getting 8 eggs a day! Turns out my girls, like most of us, just wanted some TLC! You can watch as I try each step in the video below!