Roosters and Laying Hens

Happy New Year!  Well the new year has certainly kicked off with frigid temperatures and snow!  Winter is a particularly tough time of year to take care of chickens.  Nevermind dealing with snow wind and below freezing temperatures, as I remember last year with the 3 girls, there were bouts of boredom and feather pecking as well. Attempting to deal with the plucking was brutal and didn’t really stop until we finally separated the culprit- Reno Raines.  Reno is still separated from the flock (and as a note she doesn’t appear to mind in the least) as she started picking a fight with the new rooster (through a fence I might add). And since everyone else was getting along so well already, it just made sense.

coop in winter 2013-14

It’s hard to write Reno off completely though- she not aggressive towards people (though skittish) and for some reason she has never stopped laying eggs since she started last fall- even through winter and a molt. So separated from the others and in the comfort of her own enclosure she remains.

Reno (left) and Little Sister when the feather plucking all began last fall.  Note the bluekote on Little Sister while we tried (unsuccessfully) to save her tail feathers

Reno (left) and Little Sister (right) when the feather plucking all began last fall. Note the bluekote on Little Sister while we tried (unsuccessfully) to save her tail feathers

And speaking of winter and egg laying, something slightly strange has happened recently.  I don’t supplement light or heat for my chickens as I figure it is better for them to go through a cycle of not laying during the winter if that’s what happens naturally.  But then beginning in December, our new Orphington started laying.  Then shortly after Bobby Sixkiller has started laying as well (note- she did not lay at all last winter). I thought it was a strange coincidence that these two chickens are the only two I’ve actually seen our new rooster (Pru) trying to mate with.

And sure enough, in the last week we’ve started getting some green eggs from our little Ameraucauna as well.  Since we now have at least 4 hens laying during the coldest and darkest part of the year, it makes me wonder- does having a rooster around increase egg production in the winter months?  In the meantime, we’re happy to have our omelets in this cold weather!

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