The little lady layers are ready for winter to be over! It has been shocking to me to see the tremendous difference in their egg production now and just a few months ago. There were days we were getting eight or nine eggs a day back when it was warmer, and now we consider ourselves fortunate if we get four in a day, and those are almost exclusively eggs from the Rhode Island Reds. It is somewhat rare to get an egg from the Easter Eggers right now, and it is very rare for more than one to show up. This is the reason we added the Rhode Island Reds to the flock though – they are egg laying machines.
One of the issues the Easter Eggers are having is that some of them are molting. It may be that all of them are molting, but two of them are showing it more. In fact, one reminds me of a little Indian boy with one tall feather sticking up from its tail. We have added some more protein and fat to their diet, which is a good idea in winter anyhow, but it also seems that it helps hens through the molting process.
I had someone ask a week or two ago if it was normal for a hen to molt in the winter. I didn’t know the answer, and it seemed illogical to me, but after researching it I found that it is not unusual at all. I am supposing they stay closer to their sisters during this time to keep a little warmer.
One other thing we have learned is the importance of an insulated coop. Just this morning I noticed a container of water outside the coop was frozen, but one inside the run, just under the coop was not. The run is not even really insulated, but it does have wind breakers on two sides. It seems that those wind breakers made enough of a difference that it was able to keep the water from freezing. Amazing, really.
One thing we are finding is commonly recommended for the hens in the winter is black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS). I have added this to my list of things to grow next year, as I sure would love to be able to feed the chickens as much as possible from the garden. That reminds me, I am also growing a considerable amount more greens (kale, lettuce, chard), brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage), squash and beets to help feed the ladies more from the garden.