It feels as thought this Summer has skipped on by and in North Wales at least we have gone straight from wet and windy Spring to a wet and windy Autumn! Last summer we spent a lot of time at the beach, which we are very lucky to live so close to, but this summer we barely made it a handful of times.
As the days draw shorter I always find that the hens slow down on laying or even go into a moult. This year is no different. Star is still laying us her gorgeous white eggs most days, but Bolshy has started loosing a few feathers and hasn’t laid for a week now. I don’t expect her to restart laying until next Spring when the days start to get longer again and the weather warmer (hah!). I recently saw this meme pop up in our Poultry Forum and it certainly seems apt for the winter months here! I expect we will soon be buying eggs again, although we are very lucky to have a farm nearby with truly free range hens to buy eggs from when ours are out of lay.
We’ve now started the winter preparations. The coop has been checked over and a few drafty areas we found have been fixed, a thorough deep clean including wash down and DE into every crevice has been carried out, and a new plastic drinker purchased as our current one will likely not withstand winter cold snaps as the plastic has become quite fragile.
The hens themselves have been wormed with premix flubenvet layers pellets, and with Bolshy starting a moult I’ve added a liquid vitamin supplement to their water to give her a little nutrient boost. Next week I’ll do their normal five days a month of ACV in their water – we have two drinkers and for ACV we have to use the plastic type as the galvanised become damaged with the acidity.
A lot of new poultry keepers worry about the fact their hens slow down or stop laying over the winter months and it really is not need for concern. The amount of daylight is linked with the egg laying cycle and a winter break is actually good for the flock as it allows their bodies recuperation time. If you want a more year round supply of eggs it is a good idea to have a mix of breeds and ages, and to add to the flock with a new girl or two each spring – this is obviously only possible for those with larger gardens or holdings though! Some do choose to cull the older members of the flock, although this is not something I personally do. I like to give my girls a lovely old retirement in exchange for all the wonderful eggs they have provided me with. I found even my aging ex-barns used to occasionally still provide an egg well into their dotage.