Growing Dawn » Homesteading » Raising Livestock » Do Chickens Lay Eggs in the Winter?

Do Chickens Lay Eggs in the Winter?

Please share!

Who doesn’t want farm fresh eggs through winter? If you’re anything like me, you bake a lot of holiday cookies and cook plenty of comfort food during the colder time of year. On our homestead, we still need eggs just as much as we do during the spring and summer! Let’s dive into how much chickens lay eggs in the winter, and what you can do to keep your hens’ egg production up.

If you’re a proud owner of backyard chickens, you’ve likely gotten used to gathering fresh eggs throughout the warmer months. But when the winter chill sets in, you may find yourself wondering if your feathery friends will continue to produce. This is a common question, and understanding the factors that influence egg-laying during winter can help us as chicken enthusiasts make needed adjustments in order to keep production going.

children running around chicken coop in snow

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure here.

The Effects of Winter on Chicken Egg-Laying

During winter, the key factors that influence your chickens’ egg laying abilities are daylight hours, temperature, and overall well-being. Chickens rely on natural daylight as a trigger for their egg production. So with shortened daylight hours in winter, egg laying often slows down or stops altogether. Similarly, freezing temperatures can have a direct impact on your chickens’ laying habits. Any energy your chickens spend to stay warm counts against the energy they have available to produce delicious eggs. Lastly, your chickens’ general health plays a crucial role. Stressed and undernourished hens won’t produce as many eggs, if any at all.

Reduced Daylight Exposure

In winter, there are fewer hours of sunlight. Chickens need a certain amount of light to maintain healthy egg production. When daylight hours shorten, the decreased light can signal to a hen’s body that it’s time to slow down or stop laying eggs. To counteract this, you can add supplemental lighting to your chicken coop. We tried this ourselves last winter, and it worked beautifully. Make sure you provide about 14-16 hours of light per day via a consistent source that mimics natural daylight.

Molting and Cold Stress

Molting typically occurs in the fall, but it can continue into the winter in some cases. During molting, hens shed old feathers and grow new ones to prepare for the cold weather. Since molting requires a lot of energy, your chickens might lay fewer eggs. Also, extreme cold temperatures can cause stress, which may negatively affect your chickens’ health and egg-laying capacity. Be sure to provide proper insulation, ventilation, and heating in your coop to keep your birds comfortable. If you live in a frigid climate, consider only raising cold hardy chicken breeds.

Diet Changes and Nutrition

Winter may change your hens’ dietary needs. As temperatures drop, chickens require more energy to stay warm, meaning they might need more food to maintain production. Providing high-quality feed that meets  nutritional requirements is essential. Consider offering extra protein, vitamins, and minerals, as well as fresh water daily. A well-balanced diet will provide them optimal health and performance.

Carefully watching your chickens’ light exposure, managing molting and cold stress, and adjusting your chickens’ diet is the best way to help maintain healthy egg production.

farm fresh chicken eggs in basket with towel

Choosing Cold Hardy Chicken Breeds

When selecting chickens for your flock that can handle colder temperatures and are already known for laying eggs during winter, there are a few breeds to consider. 

Rhode Island Reds

The Rhode Island Red is a popular cold hardy breed. It has a reputation for being robust and adaptable, and is known for peak production even in harsher conditions. They have plenty of feathers to help them stay warm on colder days.

Plymouth Rock

The Plymouth Rock is another cold hardy breed to consider if you’re wanting fresh eggs year-round. They have thick feathering that helps them stay warm during cold months, and they are reliable layers of large brown eggs, even during winter. They’re known for their friendly personalities, and their feather patterns provide excellent camouflage, which is an added benefit if you intend to free range.


Wyandottes are another great choice for cold hardy chicken breeds. They have dense, fluffy feathers and a small comb, making them well-suited for cold climates. Wyandottes are known for their beautiful, striking appearance as well as their consistent winter egg laying.


Australorp is also an excellent option for a cold hardy chicken breed. They originate from regions with harsh winters, so they are well adapted to colder weather and continued egg production during winter months. The Australorp is known for its friendly nature and excellent egg production. Their feathering insulates them from the cold, and they come in a few different color varieties.


Orpingtons are what we currently keep on our own homestead. They have a reputation for being gentle and friendly birds that can handle cold conditions. Their dense feathering provides excellent insulation, and they lay good-sized eggs consistently through the winter.

Remember, you still need to provide proper shelter, nesting spaces, and care for your cold hardy breeds during winter months. This will ensure that your chickens stay healthy, happy, and productive all year long.

lavender orpington hen and rooster during winter

Managing the Chicken Coop During Winter

It’s crucial for backyard chicken owners to provide proper care for their chickens during the winter months. This includes managing the coop effectively and making sure the birds stay healthy and comfortable. In this section, we’ll discuss a few aspects of keeping your coop well-equipped.

Proper Ventilation and Insulation

Ensuring proper ventilation and insulation in your chicken coop is necessary to maintain good air quality and an ideal temperature. Adequate ventilation allows fresh air to circulate while removing moisture and ammonia buildup from droppings. Here’s what you can do:

  • Be sure to have both lower and higher vents to allow fresh air to enter and stale air to exit.
  • Install vents on opposite sides of the coop for cross-ventilation.
  • Insulate your coop with foam or straw bales to keep your chickens warm and cozy.

Avoiding Frostbite and Protecting From Drafts

Frostbite can be a concern for chickens during winter. To prevent this issue, protect your birds from drafts while ensuring that the coop is well-ventilated:

  • Seal any gaps or cracks in the coop to prevent cold drafts from entering.
  • Make sure your birds have a place to roost so they can keep their feet off the cold ground. This could be a wooden perch, some plywood, or repurposed milk crates screwed into a board (which is what we have)
  • Keep the coop well-lit during the day to encourage daytime egg-laying and maintain an optimal temperature.

Maintaining a Clean and Dry Environment

Keeping your chicken coop clean and dry during winter is crucial to prevent diseases and keep your chickens healthy:

  • Use proper bedding materials, like pine shavings or straw, to create a comfortable and dry surface.
  • Regularly clean and replace bedding.
  • Monitor the coop’s humidity levels throughout the season and adjust ventilation as necessary.

By following these tips, you can effectively manage your chicken coop during the winter months and ensure your backyard flock remains productive and healthy.

Here are some product recs to help with keeping your coop clean and dry:

Nutritional Requirements During Winter Months

To encourage egg production during the winter months, try implementing some simple changes to provide an optimal environment for your chickens. Adjusting their coop temperature, providing additional light exposure, and offering a balanced diet can all contribute to maintaining steady egg production. If you choose to be proactive in caring for your laying hens, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying fresh eggs all year round.

High-Protein Layer Feed

To ensure your chickens continue laying eggs in winter, give a high-quality layer feed containing at least 16% protein. Our favorites are Hearty Hen by Naturewise or layer feed from New Country Organics. Protein is crucial for healthy egg production and maintaining overall health during the cold months. You could also offer sunflower seeds and nuts, which make great chicken treats and are an excellent source of protein.

Supplementing With Calcium and Nutrients

Calcium is vital for strong eggshells. Giving crushed eggshells or oyster shells is an excellent way to supplement your chickens’ diet. You can also include leafy greens and vegetables. Make your chickens receive adequate nutrition by offering them these kinds of well-rounded supplements.

Water and Hydration

It’s important your chickens have plenty of water, not just when it’s hot, but also when it’s cold! It’s essential for wellbeing and egg production. Provide a clean water source, check it daily and prevent it from freezing. You can use a heated waterer to maintain a consistent water temperature.

Artificial Lighting Pros and Cons

Boosting Egg Production With Lighting

Last winter, we wanted to keep a steady supply of fresh eggs, and knew that artificial lighting in the coop (or in our case, tractor) could be a solution. By providing additional lighting, you can extend the “daylight” hours for your chickens, which in turn can boost their egg production. So, that’s exactly what we did. We installed a simple daylight bulb in the chicken tractor and placed it on a timer (we used this digital one) with an extension cord. 

mytouchsmart outdoor timer being held outside

It’s important to understand the balance between red light and white light. Red light typically helps chickens feel more relaxed, while white light provides stimulation. This is one reason we chose a warm daylight bulb. Use a combination of both red and white light to maintain a healthy environment for your chickens.

The Ethical Debate of Artificial Lighting

Artificial lighting definitely works to increase egg supply, but there is an ethical debate surrounding it. Chickens, like most animals, have natural rhythms that allow them to rest, recover, and molt. During molting, they release the old and grow new feathers, preparing them for the cold months ahead. Constant additional lighting can disrupt these natural cycles.

As responsible chicken owners, we carefully weighed the pros and cons of artificial lighting. For us personally, our priorities were to provide the food our family needed. We still give our chickens a bit of a break from laying, just not as long of one as they would have without supplemental light. You can carefully plan your lighting strategy to ensure your chickens’ wellbeing isn’t compromised.

When talking about chickens’ health, I believe the most important thing is to to keep the coop or chicken tractor properly ventilated and clean. As you make your own decisions about artificial lighting for your chickens, you can keep their health and happiness, as well as yours, in mind.

Hatching Baby Chicks and Winter Laying Cycles

Chickens follow a particular laying cycle, influenced by various factors, like the availability of light. The pineal gland in hens senses light duration, which is the primary trigger for egg-laying. As I mentioned before, shorter daylight hours lead to a decrease in egg production. But there is still the possibility that a hen may “go broody” even in winter, meaning they are more interested in nesting and sitting on their eggs than laying new ones. Here is an excellent article on caring for broody hens and their eggs in cold weather.

Understanding your chickens’ winter behavior and how nature tends to take its course will help you support their well-being. The number of eggs you get will naturally come up again as the days become longer and warmer.

movable chicken tractor in backyard next to lake during sunset

FAQ about how chickens lay eggs in winter

Do chickens lay eggs daily?

Chickens don’t always lay eggs daily. On average, a hen lays an egg every 25 to 26 hours. However, factors like the breed, age, diet, and environmental conditions can make a big impact on egg-laying frequency. Some breeds lay well all year long, while others lay less frequently, especially during the winter.

What chickens lay all year round?

Some breeds are known for their consistent egg-laying abilities throughout the year. These breeds include the Rhode Island Red, Sussex, Golden Comet, Plymouth Rock, Leghorn, and Australorp to name a few. Each breed has different characteristics, so remember to research and choose the right breed that suits your other needs and preferences.

How to keep chickens laying in winter?

To promote egg laying during winter, you need to provide your chickens with a warm and well-ventilated coop, a balanced diet rich in protein and calcium, and consistent lighting of at least 14 hours per day. Regularly cleaning the coop and maintaining clean water will also help keep your chickens healthy and laying eggs.

Do coops affect egg-laying in winter?

Having the right coop definitely can impact your chickens’ ability to lay eggs during winter. An ideal coop keeps your chickens warm, dry, and protected from drafts while also providing proper ventilation. It should contain nesting boxes, and enough space for them to move around comfortably. It’s a good idea to insulate the coop from rain and drafts to encourage the laying of eggs during the cold season.

I hope this was helpful to you, whether you choose take every step necessary to keep your hens laying through the winter, or decide to let nature take its course and give them a break.

Please share!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *