When the cold weather set in a couple months back, we knew what to expect. Our chickens would need more calories to be able to keep themselves warm, so we gave them corn and seeds mixed with fat. They’d need water that wasn’t frozen, so we brought their two waterers indoors in shifts. They’d need air flow in the coop, so we cleared the snow away from the vent. Although we knew they’d be prone to frostbite on their combs, we didn’t cover them with Vaseline because we’d read that this strategy, while widely deployed, didn’t help at all.
And we knew we’d get fewer eggs. There might even be stretches when we’d get none at all. Chickens cut back on their production in the winter, in part because there’s less light, which plays a key role in governing their laying cycle, and in part because they often molt in the colder months, and that’s a drain on the resources otherwise devoted to egg manufacture.
Some chicken owners put lights in the coop to prevent the downturn in the cycle, but we figured we’d let nature take its course, and let chickens do what comes naturally in winter. I don’t know for sure that keeping lights on all year stresses the birds, but I know I certainly wouldn’t like it. Besides, there’s no electricity.
It has been one of the surprises of this enterprise that our chickens haven’t slacked off the pace at all. We have gotten at least five eggs from our eight chickens every single day, and six or seven is the norm. I’m sure we can attribute this, at least in part, to the fact that they’re nine months old and at the beginning of their peak laying age. But still.
“Why do you suppose our chickens are still laying all those eggs?” I asked my husband. “Is it because it hasn’t been that cold? Is there something in the food?”
“Nope,” he said, with perfect confidence, almost swaggering. “It’s all about the husbandry.”
Sheesh. He takes credit for everything.