Many newbies to keeping backyard chickens would like to enjoy having fresh eggs year-round. If you’re new to keeping chickens, you may not know that hens tend to stop laying eggs during the late fall and winter when the hours of daylight decrease.

If you’re wondering to yourself “do chickens lay eggs in winter”, the answer is they can with some prompting. For example, big commercial enterprises that sell eggs to supermarkets keep their hens laying eggs year-round by making some adjustments to the hens’ environment.

We’ll get into the nitty-gritty of this eggy topic below and give you 5 tips for getting your chickens to lay eggs in the cold weather months.

chicken divider

Why Egg Production Slows Down When It’s Cold

red hen laying eggs
Image Credit: Spech, Shutterstock

Like with most birds, chickens normally don’t lay eggs all year. The number of daylight hours tells the birds when is the optimal time to lay eggs and tend to newly hatched baby chickens. This takes place during the spring and summer when the days are long and filled with sunlight.

The lack of daylight paired with cooler temperatures during the winter tell hens when it’s time to give their bodies a rest. As the cold dark winter sets in, your hens’ bodies naturally go into overdrive wherein they redirect their attention to keeping warm instead of laying eggs.

If you want to convince your chickens to keep laying eggs when it’s cold, there are a few things you can do. Follow the tips below to prompt your hens to continue blessing you with those big, delicious eggs you’re used to collecting in the coop each morning.

The 5 Tips for Maintaining Egg Production in Winter

1. Supply Sufficient Artificial Light

The egg-laying cycle of hens is determined by how much light they receive. To continue producing the hormones that trigger egg production, hens should receive 15 hours of light each day. You can amp up winter egg production to some extent by simply providing your hens with artificial light.

The best light to use in a backyard coop is a 9-watt LED bulb. Hook the light up with a timer so it comes on early in the morning to give the hens the daylight they need. This way, you’ll enjoy getting more eggs throughout those short dark winter days.

Beware that adding artificial light to a chicken coop raises the risk of fire so be careful. Make sure the light is kept away from dry bedding and out of reach of the chickens.

2. Keep Your Chickens Warm and Comfortable

Your chicken coop doesn’t have to be toasty warm unless you’re brooding chicks. However, if you want your chickens to provide you with eggs during the coldest time of the year, your coop should be kept at around 40°F to stay within your chicken’s comfort zone.

Instead of using electricity and a heat lamp that can be hazardous if it’s knocked down, add some insulation to your coop to keep it warm and comfy. The insulation can be made of several things including Styrofoam, cardboard boxes, or straw.

Be generous with the insulation you use and pay special attention to cracks and other areas where cold air can leak in like around windows and doors.

Image Credit: PhotoSongserm, Shutterstock

3. Feed Your Chickens More

Because hens must work harder to keep warm during the cold weather months, egg production is put on the back burner. Since your hens will be expending more energy to keep themselves warm, it only makes sense to provide them with more food when it’s cold, so they have the energy they need to lay eggs.

In addition to chicken feed, offer your hens some nutritious poultry treats now and then. Just scatter the treats on the floor or add them to the food dish. If you have access to dried corn on the cob, your hens will consider that a real treat!

Proper egg production requires that your hens are well-hydrated. If your girls are thirsty and not getting enough water, they won’t give you any eggs so make sure they always have lots of freshwater to drink. A good idea is to add an automatic poultry feeder and waterer to your coop to ensure your chickens always have access to food and water.

4. Keep Your Hens Active

Just as our bodies heat up when we’re exercising, the same holds true for your hens. Activity helps keep hens healthy and happy which in turn, helps them produce more delicious eggs.

Encourage your hens to venture outside during the daytime by placing some treats in the yard. If it’s too cold for them to be out, you can keep your hens active indoors by adding a chicken swing or ladder to the coop.

5. Keep the Nesting Boxes Clean

Hens that are provided with clean nesting boxes containing comfortable bedding produce the most eggs, regardless of the season. Make a point of keeping your nesting boxes as clean as possible during the wintertime.

Use top-quality poultry bedding that’s highly absorbent with extra cushioning so your feathered friends are as comfortable as possible, so they pop out more eggs.

chicken laying eggs on nesting box
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

chicken feet divider

The Breed of Chickens You Keep Matters!

Some chicken breeds do much better in the winter months than others because they have physical attributes that make them fare better in the cold. Some of these physical features include things like thick dense feathers, cushy combs, and small wattles so you don’t have to worry about frostbite.

Some of the best breeds to keep that are well-suited for cold weather include:

new chicken divider


Now that you know how to keep your chickens laying eggs year-round, you’ve got some work to do! Make sure your feathered friends have a warm, clean, and comfortable coop to live in and plenty of quality food and fresh water.

Even though it will take some effort to make things just right for good egg production in cold weather, you’ll be frying eggs and making omelets using farm-fresh eggs all winter long, so it will be worth it!

Featured Image Credit: Natalia Dolgosheeva, Shutterstock