We've found that the two most important factors in good egg production are 1) making sure the birds have plenty of water and 2) giving them long days. During the winter, the day light hours are significantly less and this leads to less eggs. We hang a lamp in their roost that is on a timer. It turns on early in the morning, shuts off when it's daylight, turns back on as the sun goes down and shuts off later in the evening.
All this to say, every winter we try to provide the perfect combination of food, water, and light (and, as always, access to the great out of doors at all times). For some reason, since Christmas, our hens have been going above and beyond the call of duty. They are laying machines! This is what we came home to after Christmas travels. We were gone a week and have about 25 laying hens, although a third of them are almost five years old. Prior to Christmas, we were only getting a few a day.
The one thing we can think of that may have jump started this laying frenzy is that while we were away, there was snow on the ground here. Our chickens are...well...they're wimps. They don't like snow and refuse to walk in it. So, while we were gone, they were holed up inside with unlimited feed (since we were away). Normally, when there is no snow on the ground, they spend a lot of their day outside, scratching for bugs and green blades. But even now that the snow has melted they keep laying away.
So, if you're local and you'd be interested in eggs, keep an eye on my personal facebook page and I'll put the word out when we have extras to sell.
I'm going to change the subject slightly and tell you something I've been holding off telling you. Remember our rooster, Marv? Well, this fall (months ago), we let him go. No, we didn't release him into the wild. We kind of fired him. And, around here, if you're a rooster and we fire you, it means you're freezer bound. If you'd like to read some of the best Marv stories and reminisce a bit with me, read here.
Marv became one of those roosters who was over-zealous in his roostery ways. He crowed too early and too often. He pestered the hens too much. He turned on humans more than necessary (and even chased me around the garden a time or two). He was beautiful and he put everything he had into his job, but he failed to consider his owners and their offspring. Not that he should of. He was a rooster.
Merv, Marv's son, was given a promotion and is now head rooster. Actually, he's the only rooster. He hardly ever crows. He doesn't pester the hens so much (it helps that there is no competition around). And, thanks to Marv, he's as timid as can be. While he may be a little too timid in the protecting-the-flock department, we're more interested in our children being protected. He's the perfect replacement.
We thought the kids would be upset about the changes, but they went with the flow and now can even collect eggs by themselves (if they stand on a bucket).
And, now, let's have a belated moment of silence for our literally fearless rooster, Marv.
Thank you. You may be dismissed.