Your Chickens - - Charlotte’s Chickens -

WHY DO hens nat­u­rally lay less or stop lay­ing in the winter? Of­ten peo­ple who buy my eggs think that the hens are not lay­ing be­cause it is too cold. I tell them that it has noth­ing to do with freez­ing tem­per­a­tures, but all to do with the light, which plays a vi­tal role in egg pro­duc­tion. It af­fects a small or­gan be­hind the eye called the pineal gland. This gland pro­duces mela­tonin which helps to reg­u­late sleep. When the days are length­en­ing, the gland sends a hor­mone through to the ovary which stim­u­lates the hen to start pro­duc­ing eggs. As the days shorten, the gland stops send­ing this mes­sage and thus the ovary takes a break. There­fore it is nat­u­ral for a hen to go out of lay in the shorter days of au­tumn and winter and lay again when spring comes. Pro­fes­sional egg farm­ers over­come this prob­lem by us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial light and are there­fore able to main­tain the same amount of light ev­ery day (hens need around 14 hours of light to keep lay­ing) which evens out the egg pro­duc­tion. For our hens I al­ways think it is right and proper that they have a rest in the winter de­spite the frus­tra­tion of no beau­ti­ful eggs with deep yel­low yolks. Shop bought eggs are not a patch on my own for flavour and colour.

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