In this article from 1899, Edgar Wallace discusses eggs in fall & winter. When written, electric lighting was rare, the tungsten filament incandescent bulb was not invented until 1905. Gas and oil lighting were not very practical for poultry housing so daylight extension as a method of increasing winter egg production was not considered.
Eggs in Fall & Winter
Unless a man breeds fancy fowls and has a good market in the spring for eggs for hatching, the gilt-edged profits come from eggs produced in late fall and early winter.
There is no commodity that I know anything about where the price fluctuates so much in the course of a year as it does on eggs. In the local market eggs range in price from 12 to 15 cents in April and May to 30 to 40 cents around Thanksgiving.
In spite of all that has been written and said about eggs in the late fall and early winter, there is always a shortage about this time, and there is likely to be for years to come.
Out of Season Eggs Against Nature
The reason why it is so difficult to get eggs in late fall or early winter is that it is against Nature. The primary object of a bird in laying eggs is not to please the palate of the epicure or add to the profits of the owner, but to reproduce her kind.
Now it is a universal law that all creatures in a wild state bring forth their young at that season of the year when food is most abundant. The hen has been domesticated for more than thirty centuries, but back of this is a period of much greater extent when she was wild.
No artificial breeding or habitat can ever completely eradicate aboriginal instincts. The natural time for a hen to lay is in the spring and summer. It is evident, therefore, that in working for eggs in fall and early winter we are working against Nature, and can never hope for that complete success that we may expect when we are working with Nature and Nature is working with us.
Winter Eggs Come from Pullets
Eggs in the fall and winter come principally from pullets. At Thanksgiving time, when eggs are at their maximum, the hens have not fully recovered from their moult. They may lay a few eggs, but nothing great.
Those who get winter eggs in large quantities are those who follow the advice of this book and plan to have at least two-thirds of their laying stock pullets. But not every pullet is a layer. It is only those that are well grown and have been handled right that are now giving a good account of themselves.
The first great rule for winter eggs is as follows: Get out your chicks early and keep them coming from the day they break the shell down to the day they go into the laying pens in the fall.
American Breeds Best for Fall & Winter Eggs
The breed has something to do with it. As a rule the American breeds are the best winter layers. I know that this statement will be challenged, and that instances will be given where the Mediterraneans or Asiatics have equalled or surpassed the Americans in egg production; but the statement will stand.
The Mediterraneans are thin-feathered and are very susceptible to climatic conditions.
A sudden cold snap will often cause the egg product to drop to zero.
The Asiatics, on the other hand, are thick-feathered, but slow in maturing they do not get ready to lay until well on toward spring.
The man who wants winter eggs will make no mistake if he fills his pens with well matured pullets of the American class.
Also in 200 Eggs a Year, Per Hen: How to Get Them
- Preserving Eggs
- What Breed are the Best Egg Layers
- Keeping Hens for Maximum Egg Production
- Breeding Chickens to Increase Egg Production & Utility General Rules
- Eggs in Fall & Winter
- More Eggs In Winter Tips
- The Trap Nest and Its Uses
- How to Build a Trap Nest Box for Hens – Free Plan
- Breeding Chickens – Selecting Stock
- Cross Breeding Chickens – Importance of Crosses
- Fertile Eggs & How To Get Them
- Poultry Manure A Valuable By-Product