Humans and chickens aren’t very different from one another on some levels. Both species are influenced by their biological clock, also called a circadian rhythm. This rhythm is regulated by daylight and controls the metabolism and hormones of chicken. So, when do chickens lay fewer eggs?
Chickens lay fewer eggs during cold weather (between late fall and early spring) than in warm weather, (between late spring and early fall) because there is less daylight available. Chickens need 12 to 16 hours of daylight to lay eggs daily.
Or if you want to look at things from the other direction, which answers the also commonly asked question of when do chickens lay more eggs?
Chickens lay more eggs during warm weather (between spring and early fall) than cold weather, (between late fall and winter) because there is more daylight available. Chickens need 12 to 16 hours of daylight to lay eggs daily.
The rules of egg-laying don’t come down to counting daylight since there are many other factors associated with hot and cold weather that you should keep in mind. Read below to learn in detail when chickens tend to lay the most eggs and how to overcome weather limitations.
Do Chickens Lay Fewer Eggs In Cold Weather?
Chickens tend to lay fewer eggs in cold weather because of the lower amount of daylight. Late fall and winter are also when chickens are molting, which is an exhausting process that prevents them from laying eggs due to increased protein demands on their bodies.
In the same way as humans, chickens have their behavior influenced by their biological clock, which is regulated by daylight. Most species have evolved this way because daylight is the most reliable and consistent way the body can adjust its hormones and metabolisms. The minimum hours for chicken laying are 12, but 14-16 are preferable to increase production.
Cold weather may be problematic because chickens are susceptible to stress, so hard weather may interrupt the process. Furthermore, chickens have evolved to recognize colors easily because they help identify mating partners and food. This comes at the price of poor night vision, which means chickens may be fearful of the dark, especially during cold weather when daylight is limited and not always present.
Cold weather, fall, and early winter are also associated with molting, a stressful event during which chickens replace their old feathers. Molting is usually triggered by daylight changes and lasts around 16-18 weeks. Molting involves creating new feathers, 80-85 percent protein, but this is a heavy burden on the chicken’s body, so it can not continue producing eggs.
There are some measures you can take if you want to continue egg production during cold weather or if you want to resume egg production earlier into spring. Molting is a natural process that must take its course, but you can assist your chickens by feeding them nutrient-dense foods that are rich in protein.
Furthermore, to compensate for the reduced amount of daylight, you can experiment with artificial lights to influence their biological clock into thinking the day lasts longer. The trick is to use timers and keep the light exposure consistent because the circadian rhythm is all about maintaining a predictable routine to which the body can adapt.
Do Chickens Lay More Eggs In Hot Weather?
Warm weather provides the ideal conditions for laying eggs. Even though it’s the most optimal for egg production, you should take some measures to prevent overheating issues, which may hurt your chickens or slow their egg production.
Spring and summer are generally the best periods for egg production. The hot weather naturally allows for 14 to 16 hours of daylight, which chickens want. The pleasant weather removes the cold as a potential stressor. Finally, body temperature can more easily be maintained, which means nutrients can go towards egg production instead of protecting the chicken’s body.
In the same way, chickens can become stressed by the cold environment, they can also have a physiological response to the heat. The so-called ideal temperature for laying eggs is between 50 and 80 °Fahrenheit, and anything above that can reduce the quantity, quality, and size of the eggs.
That being said, as long as we keep our chickens cool in the 110+ degree summers, they keep laying just fine. They do like having a misting system set up to help them stay cool and keep laying.
**Kim will add a table from https://backyardhomesteadhq.com/does-weather-affect-chickens-laying-eggs-17-hen-secrets/
Overheating is not just an issue for egg production, but it may also endanger the lives of your chickens. You should look out for the following signs of overheating:
- Changes in the color and composition of the combs and wattles. They may lose color and become pale.
- Loss of appetite, lethargic behavior, and disorientated movements.
- Heavy panting, breathing with an open beak, and wings spread out away from the body to cool off.
- Reduction of egg production.
Chickens don’t cool themselves off with sweat like us instead, they use their beaks, wattles, combs, and feet to cool off. Depending on the chicken breed and the size of their combs and wattles, some chickens will have the ability to cool off much faster compared to other species. Here are some of the measures you can take to cool them off:
- Provide shade so your chickens have a place where they can cool off from the sun. If your garden lacks trees, consider creating some by attaching clothes, buildings, posts, and fences.
- Provide a steady supply of cold water. Dehydration is the real threat of hot weather and what leads to overheating. Be sure to consistently provide cold water or occasionally add ice or frozen treats, such as fruits and veggies, to the water to keep it cool.
- Get creative and transform their treats and food into heat-resistant versions. This can include giving them frozen treats such as frozen peas, strawberries, and corn or cooling their feed before giving it to them.
- Keep the coop clean. Especially during hot weather, the coop should be clean because any layer adds as an insulator of heat, and a lack of space leads to overcrowding which can be problematic in hot weather.
- Keep the coop ventilated to ensure that the chickens’ temperature that remains inside is optimal and won’t lead to overheating.
Frequently Asked Questions about Chickens Laying Eggs in Various Situations
There are a lot of other questions that frequently get asked about when chickens lay eggs in various scenarios. Let’s get those answered, too. And if I missed your question? Just ask me. I’ll get it answered and added here.
Do chickens lay fewer eggs when molting?
Chickens do lay fewer eggs when molting, as molting is a resource and protein-taxing life event that leaves no-to-low protein available for them to create and lay eggs.
Some chickens will only slow down in laying eggs while they molt. This is truer if you make sure to give your flock a high-quality feed that’s higher in protein, like the 20% protein layer feed.
Our chickens slow down laying when they start to molt, but then it drops off and stops pretty quickly. We feed them a 20% layer feed and give them plenty of protein-rich treats, but combined with the sudden drop in light and temperature here in Utah, it’s just too much, especially since we don’t use artificial lights to keep our chickens laying year-round. The eggs stop every year by mid-November.
Thankfully, molting is done by early December, and we’ll get more eggs by early to middle February.
What time of year do chickens lay fewer eggs?
Chickens lay fewer eggs when there isn’t enough daylight, especially if there is also a temperature drop at the same time. Here in Utah, chickens lay fewer to no eggs between mid-November and early February.
Keep in mind that if you are up with their protein intake and set up artificial lights, then they could lay during the deep winter. We don’t do it for several reasons.
Are there ways to stop the weather from affecting egg production?
It is possible to use lights, heaters, protein-rich foods, and other devices to keep chickens laying eggs longer. In some cases, chickens can be kept laying eggs year-round with sufficient support.
We’ve chosen to let our chickens take every winter off because our coop setup would make things like heaters be too much of a fire risk. Their coop stays plenty warm so that they’re cozy and safe, but a heater plus pine shavings in a coop that’s 100 feet from our house would need an extension cord? That seems dangerous.
We do run an extension cord out to their watering system for the de-icer, but it’s not surrounded by flammable material.
In any case, if you want to read about what you can do to extend the laying season, I’ve got a whole set of guidelines you can read right here: Does Weather Affect Chickens Laying Eggs? 17 Hen Secrets.
It’s a great read, and I spent a crazy amount of time researching and experimenting with the best possible setups so you won’t have to go crazy wondering which option to go with.
Key Takeaways and Next Steps
Chickens produce eggs in accordance with their biological clock, which is influenced primarily by daylight. Hot weather usually comes with more daylight, which provides the ideal environment for egg production. No matter the type of weather you can always take steps to increase egg production and, more importantly, to make the lives of your chickens more comfortable and happier.
Now that you’ve read this, I’ve got a choice for you.
- If you’d like to have eggs year-round, make sure you read this: Does Weather Affect Chickens Laying Eggs? 17 Hen Secrets.
- Just make sure you also know how to keep chickens cool with my tips here: How to Keep a Chicken Coop Cool in the Summer.
- Or if you’re fine letting your chickens take the winter off, then go give this article a read next: How Long do Pullets Lay Small Eggs? Pullet Egg Guide.
Both are great articles, but they’ll have you ready and excited for egg season no matter what time of year it is. And if you’re just getting started with chickens? Go read the article about pullet eggs. They are so much fun, and you don’t want to miss out on them.
Learning from your own experience is essential, but learning from others is also intelligent. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- “Does Weather Affect Chickens Laying Eggs? 17 Hen Secrets.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 17 December 2020, backyardhomesteadhq.com/does-weather-affect-chickens-laying-eggs-17-hen-secrets/.
- “How to Keep a Chicken Coop Cool in the Summer.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 25 March 2020, backyardhomesteadhq.com/how-to-keep-a-chicken-coop-cool-in-the-summer/.