Harsh weather impacts chickens and their eggs

By  | 

MINOT, N.D. - When you think of the impact of extreme weather, you might not immediately think about its affects on chickens, but bitter cold temperatures threaten to freeze not only hens but their eggs.

Allison Bertsch has more than 30 chickens. Normally they produce dozens of eggs.

“Probably about three to four dozen a day, and now that’s backed off probably about two dozen or maybe even a little less,” said Bertsch.

Hens lay less eggs in the winter months because they don't get as much sun.

“The lighting of the day definitely has an impact on egg production just because there is a lot less light,” said Bertsch.

Winter weather can damage the quality of the eggs. If the temperatures drop low enough, they can freeze.

Paul Atherton's first winter raising chickens surprised him.

“My problem I was having is the eggs were getting cold. They would freeze, and then it cracks. And there just no good after that,” said Atherton.

To keep the hens warm, some farmers insulate their coops to protect both hens and eggs from the cold, but as temperatures continue to drop this may not be enough protection.

“Heavily insulate your chicken coup. I went with three layers of insulation on mine. The problem with insulating so heavily though is the humidity. You got to be able to get the humidity out,” said Atherton.

Farmers may need to hatch another idea to keep their chickens productive.

Some farmers say heating lamps could also be a good solution, but caution that heaters can also cause fires.