It’s been a big week. I’ve learned 2 things about keeping chickens through winter. We have had chickens for years, and years, and years. This is not my first, second, third, fourth, or fifth winter with chickens.
Why it has taken me this long to pick this up is beyond me. I guess I’m just quick like that.
1st thing I’ve learned this week:
Chickens are not the dumbest birds in the world.
It all started with this guy. He must have needed a warm place to spend the night because when we opened the door to the chicken coop to let them out – he was in the process of giving himself a concussion. He was warm and cozy, but not the brightest bird in the coop.
He kept flying from the roosting bar into the (closed) window. He would crash into the window, bounce off it onto the floor & fly back to the roosting bar. From there he would launch himself back into the closed window. Crash onto the floor again, and fly back up to the roosting bar.
Since the first 2 attempts didn’t work, I guess he thought he just wasn’t flying fast enough to make it through the (not a) hole in the wall. The poor guy just kept slamming himself into the window until my son grabbed him.
The next morning my son again went out to open the chicken door and found not one birdie attempting to fly through a closed window. There were two. So instead of flutter-flutter- bam. Flutter-flutter-bam.
He opened the door to:
What is wrong with these birds?
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!
Well, little, cute birdies are not what you want in your coop. They carry diseases and icky stuff. So, they were also removed from the coop to go crash into windows somewhere else.
The 2nd Thing I’ve learned this week:
See this coop, all snug and tight? There are 18 chickens in it that refuse to come out. This is fine with me, if I was a chicken I’d be in there too. What’s remarkable is that this is our first flock of birds who are not adventuring out to play in the snow.
We’ve been keeping chickens for years. Our chickens have always come outside when we open the coop door. Last winter was the coldest winter we’ve had here in Kentucky in over 20 years and our chickens still ventured out of the coop. Rain, snow, ice, it didn’t matter, they always came out.
Even if it was just a brief stroll, they always came out.
Not this flock. They’re tucked up tight in their warm,cozy coop.
Here’s the epiphany that hit me yesterday: We ALWAYS get eggs all winter long. Not as many eggs, but we get eggs. When all the other homesteaders are complaining about their hens not laying – we’ve been eating omelettes. When the prices for eggs goes through the roof because it’s winter and the birds aren’t laying, we’ve been selling eggs.
UNTIL this year! Our chickens haven’t laid an egg in weeks. They also haven’t been out of the coop (much).
I’ve always known that for chickens to lay well they need 10-12 hours of exposure to daylight. I mistakenly thought that the shorter days was the biggest contributing factor to the reduction in egg laying. I’m seeing things differently now.
We’ve been through numerous winters full of short days and continued getting eggs because our chickens were out playing in the daylight. The days were shorter, but since our hens were still outside frolicking, they were still laying.
Now that I have coop-dwelling chickens, I get it. It’s not the shorter days – it’s the chicken’s exposure to the daylight that counts. If the sun was out 24 hours a day right now I still wouldn’t have any more eggs because my girls are not leaving the coop. It’s cold. It’s snowy. They’re staying in.
I’m gonna have to buy eggs. Humph.
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