In the past week or so our chickens have started to lay a little more reliably now! That makes me quite happy! For the first time, this winter I chose not to add any additional lighting to the coop. I did not heat the coop either. There are several reasons why I chose to change up my winter routine. When the days get shorter, the chickens tend not to lay eggs any longer. Most people choose to then add supplemental lighting in order to get the chickens to continue laying. That is what I have done the past 3 years as well. I decided this winter to give them a break. It is more natural for them to have this period of rest. The downside is, obviously, no eggs or maybe only one per week and paying to feed them all winter. This is what makes chickens not as economical as you would think. I end up paying quite a bit for my eggs, but I still wouldn’t trade it for the store-bought ones.
I also chose not to heat the coop this winter. The past couple years I would only heat the coop if it was unusually cold out. Our winter, this year, was extra cold but my reasoning for not heating was first based on trial. I have read chickens can handle way more than we think. They also adapt by snuggling up in the coop for warmth and generate heat that way. I did close down the windows and only allowed a little bit of air in for ventilation purposes. My other reason was that if the coop is heated, then when they do venture out into the run, there is more of a temperature change. This can actually be hard on the chickens to have such a drastic drop in temperature.
This morning I did go out to collect eggs, and one of my chickens that had been looking sick this week was dead in the coop. That is something I still struggle with because my chickens are important to me. She was my favorite of the ones I have left and would even occasionally let me hold her. (Insert eye roll here b/c you now think I’m a crazy chicken lady) I did learn pretty early on not to name them because without fail, if I named a chicken, she would be killed by a predator within a couple weeks. It was terrible, so now all my chickens are nameless. 🙂 It is all part of life, though. Your pets, your farm animals…they are going to die from something eventually whether it be old age, a predator, or disease…..or freezer day! My heart is still a little sad, though, for my Easter egger who laid the blue eggs.
She was the gray and brown one in this picture. 🙁