As fun as it is watching your flock get fluffy with their cold-weather plumage, you may find yourself wondering how the cold will affect their egg production. Since chickens need plenty of light to lay eggs, the shorter days of winter mean there will be fewer eggs for you to find. Worse, as you might expect, those cold winter days come with an even bigger challenge.
Without good planning, yes. Any eggs left exposed will gradually grow cold, causing the yolk and white to expand against the shell. This expansion can lead to the formation of hairline or even visible cracks in the shell or interior membrane.
Although cold does inhibit bacteria growth, these cracks may render the egg unsafe to eat. Even if there are no cracks, frozen and thawed eggs often have an unpleasant grainy texture and may not perform well for baking. When chicken eggs freeze in the coop, all of your birds’ hard work goes to waste.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent eggs from freezing in the coop.
Collecting eggs before they get cold is the best way to keep them safe, so if you have a flexible schedule, you can simply check the coop a few times a day. The temperature of a freshly laid egg is around 100 degrees, so they will last several hours before cold becomes an issue. When you can’t check the coop yourself, your kids or a nearby friend may be able to help out.
When you can’t check the coop frequently, the best course of action is to keep eggs warm longer. Insulating the nesting boxes will capture and maintain the hens’ body heat, extending the viability of the eggs as well as keeping your birds cozy. A healthy, natural option is a thick layer of straw, which is an excellent way to keep heat where you need it. Artificial insulation will need to be protected from the beaks of curious birds.
Curtains are another way to keep boxes nice and toasty. A simple burlap sheet or an old blanket can create a pocket of warm air and help prevent eggs from freezing in the coop.
Chilly drafts are bad for eggs as well as chickens. Adding some straw bales to the outside of the coop can maintain warmth within, especially if placed underneath exterior nesting boxes. A tarp wrap will also keep out cold air, though you want to be sure there is adequate ventilation for the health of your birds.
If you’re building or buying a new coop, make sure the nesting boxes are on the inside, as exterior boxes will lose heat more quickly. You might also consider facing your coop toward the east so it benefits from the first warmth of the day.
You can’t stop winter, but you can prepare for it. A well-insulated coop with cozy nesting boxes will keep your eggs warmer and your chickens happier. When you’re heading into this challenging time of year, we recommend feeding chickens a high-quality, high-protein organic food to help them through the molting process and ensure a plentiful crop of warm, fluffy feathers.
Nature’s Best Organic Feeds provides natural layer crumbles and pellets to grow healthy chickens that lay healthy eggs. We also offer broiler grower, scratch grains and chick starter to nurture chickens throughout their life cycle, even in harsh environments. Our feeds are 100% Non-GMO Project Verified.
When you give your flock a warm coop and our scientifically proven organic feed, you can keep enjoying eggs all winter long. Visit a store today to prepare your chickens with the best all-natural feed on the market.