You may have heard the Silkie Bantam is only a fair egg layer, but is this really a fair statement? Perhaps they get a bad rap because they’re often broody which interrupts egg production. True, but in my opinion, this incredible bird should be considered a master of two jobs. I give them five stars for their dedication to motherhood, and here’s their generous contribution to the breakfast menu. Not bad, not bad at all!
My Silkies lay every other day on average, with little change during our mild Arizona winters. There are six birds in my flock over the age of four and are still producing at the same rate. As far as I’m concerned, a chicken’s production decreasing after the age of two years has not proven true on our little farm.
But there are always exceptions…
Meet Fern, this little lady doesn’t lay eggs at all, ever! Hatched in 2012, isn’t interested in setting on eggs, and has never gone broody. But no worry, there’s still a job for her here as a bug eater. She’s also valuable as a warm body to the others on those occasional cold winter nights.
Why Egg Production is Low During the Winter Months
Light is one of the most important environmental factors affecting egg production in hens. This is because hens are photoperiodic animals, which means that their reproductive system is regulated by the amount and duration of light they receive. Regulation of the Reproductive Cycle: Light affects the reproductive cycle of hens by regulating the secretion of hormones such as melatonin, which is produced by the pineal gland in response to changes in light. Melatonin has been shown to have an inhibitory effect on the reproductive system of hens. When hens are exposed to increasing amounts of light, the production of melatonin is suppressed, and this stimulates the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the pituitary gland, which in turn stimulates the development of ovarian follicles and the production of eggs. Increase in Day Length: Hens require a certain amount of daylight to stimulate their reproductive system. Typically, hens require between 14 and 16 hours of daylight per day to achieve maximum egg production. When the days are shorter, such as during the winter months, the decrease in daylight can lead to a decrease in egg production. When the days are longer, such as during the summer months, hens are exposed to more daylight, which can stimulate egg production. Light Intensity: The intensity of light can also affect egg production in hens. Hens require a minimum level of light intensity to be able to see their surroundings and engage in normal activities such as eating and drinking. In addition, hens require a certain level of light intensity to stimulate their reproductive system. When the light intensity is too low, it can lead to a decrease in egg production. Light Color: The color of light can also affect egg production in hens. Studies have shown that blue light can stimulate egg production in hens, while red light can have an inhibitory effect. This is because blue light has been shown to increase the production of FSH, while red light has been shown to increase the production of melatonin. Interesting Fact: By controlling the duration, intensity, and color of light, farmers can manipulate the reproductive cycle of hens and increase their egg production.