Forrest Pritchard is a full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author, holding a BA in English and a BS in Geology from William & Mary. Smith Meadows, his farm, was one of the first “grass finished” operations in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for nearly two decades. Pritchard's first two books received starred reviews from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and NPR, and his latest book is set to debut in 2018.

18 responses to “Why Don’t Chickens Lay Eggs in the Winter?”

  1. Lynsi Pasutti

    Thanks for the post, Forrest! Great info and well written as always! Very informative for better understanding my own 5 chickens! 🙂 See you in a few weeks!

  2. Gerard Worrell

    Forrest, That’s why I keep my hens separate by age groups. four flocks and I replace the oldest in spring and fall.

  3. sheila4467

    Gosh I love the way you write. You crack me up, but still manage to teach me something that I can understand, and actually use. That’s pretty great, when you consider that I’m old, and forget my name sometimes.

    So, unless I’m ready to make my entire back yard into a Perfect Garden of Eden, year round, even in winter, plan on buying eggs at the store, right?

    Got it! Now why didn’t I think of that?

  4. Catherine Franz

    Forrest, I agree with sheila4467, I love the way you write and I’m a writer as well. I sell at the farmers market with your stand. I’m the blond jewelry lady. This is wonderful information. I wondered why you had less eggs during the winter months. Now I know. Thank you for the education. Haven’t purchased the book but will next Sunday at the market.

  5. sheila4467

    Catherine, You will LOVE Forrest’s book, Gaining Ground. It’s fantastic.

    Forrest, I am getting chickens this year, but I will stick to only a few until I know what I’m doing. It’s bits of information like this, that help so much, and I love it when you share what it really takes to care for your animals. At least then I know what I am actually up against.

  6. woolfarmgal

    I’m mostly a sheep farmer, but I have chickens and ducks for personal use. I sometimes have a few chicks six or seven months from winter and these young hens often will lay in winter when others don’t. But as you indicated, nutrition is key. Have to give the girls lots if food and water. I still have an outside area for the girls during winter, and I think that helps too, especially for light exposure. But they always have a coop to get into for yucky weather and to be locked up in at night. And the ducks? Love love their eggs, especially for baking, but my favorite dish is a crustless savory quiche with Swiss chard, mushrooms and Swiss cheese. Thanks for your blog post, great to give those off the farm a little country insight.

  7. Bob Haas

    Forrest. Your the man!!!!! It was great seeing you in Lewisburg. I’m so proud of the man you have become. How/How. Bob Haas

  8. Sean

    Mr. Pritchard, just got out today and dropped by your place for a quick look. I am beginning my education/quest/plan to start a farm/ranch and chickens are on the radar as a must, both for eggs and for the benefits of having them around for working garden areas and bug control. I want to work seasonally, and native as possible and had a quick question. As far as eggs go, do you transition to something else as eggs become scarce for winter or just forgo that part of your operation, and I would assume is accounted for in your estimated financials either way? Also, as I spoke to Robert he indicates yall are starting or maybe always have had, turkeys. To me this seems a more “native” option for the area, not that chickens aren’t perse, just wondered how much if any there is to compare the two; or possibly/probably there is no correlation?

  9. Mike

    Hi Pritchard,
    Thanks for this wonderful site, a truly wonderful resource for all of us aspiring farmers. My question is this: if layers should be culled when one year old due to dropping productivity, and they don’t lay in winter, and they arrive as chicks in the spring, then why keep them over the winter? Do the eggs laid the next spring before being culled recoup the feed and labour costs of keeping them all winter?

  10. David Trueblood

    I’m mostly a sheep farmer, but I have chickens and ducks for personal use. I’m wondering how to grow up the eggs faster? I heard that it’s really easy if I’m using incubator like this one here . Is there any other ways?

  11. Kim Azevedo

    Good evening thank you for sharing it so important. That’s how we change the world lots of great small farmer sharing their knowledge. There’s room for us all. I too have a small operation 100 hens. I’m learning working out the kinks before I retire. I cant get rid of the old girls if my life depended on it. A few here n there to Vietnamese folks but before I go big I want a respectful way to move these girls out. There is a local pasture guy that sits there throat and in a hole they go. I want to do better. Any ideas? With
    much gradate and praise. Kim

  12. Chrysta

    Quick couple of questions. You mentioned installing a light in the chicken coop during the winter months….to, essentially, lengthen their days. Would I turn the light off at say, around 9 pm so I’m mimicking the late sunset of summer? Also, is the light solely for “day light mimicking” purposes or should I put in a heat lamp to both increase the day light time and keep them warm? I seem to be finding a great deal of conflicting information online. I live in North Carolina, and the coldest I’ve ever felt in this area was 16 degrees, but that is very rare and only lasted one night. Typical winter temperatures here stay up in the 30’s. Thanks in advance!

  13. Jesse Crain

    Just found your website, as I am in the process of listening to the audiobook version of “Gaining Ground”. Great book, and nice website! I keep a very small flock of chickens (one rooster, 10-14 hens) to supply fresh eggs for myself, family and close friends, and have a dozen guineas, since they eat so many ticks. They have a coop and a wire-enclosed pen, but I let them out almost every day for foraging. Last winter I was lazy and just left the lights on in their coop all the time, but now that I’ve read this blog post it seems like putting a timer on the lights would be a good idea. Let my “girls” rest, and save on the electric bill, too. Keep up the wonderful work, and thank you for sharing your experiences with the rest of us!

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