Our chickens stopped laying, and we couldn’t figure out why.
It was the week leading into Thanksgiving, when I was baking and cooking and preparing to host overnight guests (and serve them lots of eggs). Obviously very bad timing!
Winter is always a time of low production because of shorter days with less sunlight, but this year we accidentally stressed our laying hens and they stopped laying, just like that.
It was time to move them from free ranging in the cow field to their winter home in our far garden. This spot offers more wind protection when temps are low, plus we need their help to clean up the garden, fertilize the soil, and eat overwintering pests.
We did the same thing last year and it worked great. But here’s where we went wrong…
Why our chickens stopped laying
This year we have more chickens and more coops, and we combined them all together in the garden. Apparently combining flocks causes stress. Oops! The chickens have to reestablish pecking order, and there are multiple roosters, and it just stresses them out.
Plus, it’s winter. Plus, a bunch of them are molting. So we basically caused a triple whammy, and we have no eggs.
What we’ll do differently next year
Oh well, now we know. Next year we’ll make two changes:
1. Wait until AFTER Thanksgiving to move the chickens to their winter home.
2. Use electric netting to confine each flock to a separate area of the garden.
For now, we just have to wait for the ladies to sort themselves out and get accustomed to their new surroundings. I sure hope they’re back in business soon!
Kathleen Henderson is the yankee behind the homestead. Follow along as we grow real food and three boys while renovating a 20-acre farm in northern Virginia. Do you love homegrown food, Paleo-ish recipes, and natural living? You’re in good company! Let’s grow together…