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Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › Winter slow down on egg production?

Winter slow down on egg production?

Brandi G
user 48566262
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 84
Anyone else have a slow down in egg production over the past week or two? My Marans have been laying pretty steadily through the winter and in the past few weeks they suddenly slowed down to twice a week or so instead of 5 or more times a week. I thought it was related to the light egg shells or feed change (now Modesto mills) but my EE is laying strong since she started. My other two EE's still haven't started laying, but maybe that is the winter thing as well. When it was the coldest, the Marans were still laying quite a bit.
It is just puzzling to me as a new chicken owner. I am wondering if changing feeds could have anything to do with it? Or maybe it is just the cold weather finally causing a slow down. I just would have thought it would have hit when the days were shortest in December rather than when things were getting closer to Feb.

Anyone have a slow down in winter? I don't plan to use lights, I'm just curious, really.
Samuel W.
user 37620172
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 11
been slow for at least two-three months. No real change in last couple of weeks. I'm in NWPasadena and use Modesto Milling.
Deborah B.
user 18945421
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 28
My 3 totally stopped for about 6 weeks. Now 2 of the 3 are back to full egg production.
user 13913292
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 85
Mine pretty much went into a complete halt during November and December. I kept thinking that it may be my older ladies because I do not recall it being so bad. My friend was supplying me with eggs and I had to buy for Christmas baking. I was not a happy camper. About 1st or 2nd week of January, the ladies returned from vacation very refreshed and I had more eggs than I knew what to do with them. I do not use lights at all, never have. Same Modesto Milling that is fermented w/ a whole bunch of other stuff. Still sprouting for them too. I have not changed anything in their diet.

Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 272
My girls quit in November, but I got my first egg on Jan 19 and have been getting a couple each day. They're all squatting so I know it's only a matter of time before they're all back in production. It has to do with daylight hours - when I paid attention I realized that the first egg came right around the time that I sensed the days were getting longer. I had just noticed that when I left work, it wasn't quite pitch dark for the first time. I guess the girls noticed too!
user 4148344
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 99
Slow!!! Yes!!! Been buying eggs from T.J. :(
Brandi G
user 48566262
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 85
So I'm not the only one. :) I feel crazy buying eggs at TJs with 5 ladies at home!

I guess I was lucky it only hit now. It's funny how they suddenly decided to slow down. I was just hoping my new Modesto mills and whole grain mixed fermented feed wasn't causing an issue. I'm on the fence about the Modesto mills layer pellets. I may switch once again. Maybe I'll just mix my own feed for a bit- I've got all the whole grains. Anyone try mixing their own feed? More hassle than it's worth or is it something that worked out well? I'm planning on fermenting either way, but something about pellets leaves me unsettled. I kind of want to SEE the grains in the feed. Is that crazy?

I'll count my blessings that I got to eat delicious eggs all through winter and even hand out eggs to a couple of the neighbors! I'm hoping I can be much more generous with the eggs from this point forward.
A former member
Post #: 359
From what I have read it has to do with the strain rather than feed. Historically, hens needed 14+ hours to start producing and slowly drop as we approached winter. To extend production, farmers started adding artificial lights to compensate for daylight hours. (Factory farming came about with the introduction of vitamins and antibiotics, rather than artificial light.)

Hens have a daylight gene "switch" that tells them when to lay eggs and raise young. They start an egg cycle with sufficient daylight, then rest as the hours are reduced. When the switch is bred out, there is nothing to tell the body to stop. How many fewer hours is dependent on how much of this gene has been suppressed; because it is selective breeding over trial and error, it may take time to completely eliminate, and results may vary. I am assuming hatcheries are most advanced, because doing so maximizes farmer income, leading to repeat business.

With selective breeding the goal is to turn off that gene switch completely. It is getting there. I had a chicken that produced eggs with just 6 hours of daylight with very little break, and nothing I did stopped it.

Funny thing I wanted many eggs in the beginning, just like everyone else on this thread, but it ended up costing me more emotionally and financially (vets), so, not my cup of tea, but wanted to point out that if you are going for maximum amounts of eggs, research the breeder.

Link (not as relevant today, but I was trying to figure out which months the 80 eggs/year of 1900s were laid): Duration of Daylight/Darkness Table for One Year '­
Brandi G
user 48566262
Pasadena, CA
Post #: 86
Interesting. I actually don't mind the slow down, you are right about resting and allowing creatures to repair their bodies/immune system, etc. I think people get sick when we over exert ourselves also. What I was getting at with the feed is, I'm a novice chicken keeper, I don't truly know the best ratios of grain to protein and calcium, etc. When you add whole grains to the feed, you change the protein ratio, etc. Because I have some girls who aren't sexually mature yet, I've been trying to mix the starter and layer formulas with whole grains and BOSS to try to come up with a food that isn't the human equivalent of proceeded food. It really bothers me when I can't tell what is in the food, I guess. I think it was Amanda or Cynthia on another thread that pointed out that one of the feeds actually looked like ground up peas and other grains. For some reason that really appeals to me, especially since I try do hard to provide food made from scratch for my whole family. This way I know what's in it, and was a large reason I wanted to produce my own eggs.

Have you thought much about the similarities between beef and chicken, and how beef switched from being grass fed to grain fed when production levels needed increasing? The same thing happened with chickens. They started giving them a grain based diet, rather than allowing free range and eating of just grasses/plants/insects/whatever they dug up. I'm trying to figure out if I can split the difference and find a healthy, whole grain approach mixed with free ranging and foraging. My thought is can I get the protein ratio correct and still feed whole grains rather than just cheap old chicken feed to provide optimim health. I've read that cancer and some of the peritonitis and fatty liver issues come from feed. I'm trying to avoid that. I got my chicks from an NPIP breeder rather than a hatchery because of many of the things you are talking about.
Amanda G
user 12128708
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 117
Hey Brandi,

I know that you have all new layers so in theory, you should not experience a slow down until next fall. My new layers have not slowed down but my older girls have been on strike since Dec... One just started laying again this week YEAH!!! It could be the change in food that has caused the slow down.... but they should adjust and pick back up soon. Has anything else changed??? Predators?? I am still not sure why your marans' egg color changed so drastically .... FYI one of my ameruacanas just started laying 2 weeks ago and she was born last April!! Her hatch mate started a good 2 months ago!!! Keep us posted on your girls ...
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