Summertime is egg season on our tiny farm. We only keep a few chickens (just 7 right now), but we’re still getting more eggs than we can sanely store or eat. Our fridge is bursting with eggs. Our bellies are bloated with quiche, custard and poachers. Fortunately, the extras are easy to give away. If they weren’t we’d have to build a shed and fill it with junky, used refrigerators. We have to go on the Rocky Balboa diet; jiggers of raw eggs all day, everyday.
Chickens, like all poultry, lay many more eggs in summer than they do any other time of the year. It’s about sunlight. With thirteen or more hours of light the hens lay at maximum capacity (5-7 eggs/wk for most breeds). With less light their laying slacks. By November, most birds will be down to 1-3 eggs per week. Over the winter, many naturally raised chickens stop laying all together. Winter can be a sad time from an egg-centric point of view.
To combat production decline in winter, commercial egg farmers raise thier birds under artificial light. This allows them to produce at maximum all year long. Unfortunatly this takes years off a hens laying life. A hen raised without artificial light might lay for 3-4 years. Under lights, the same hen might stop laying in as little as 12-18 months (then comes the forced molting at conventional farms and we don’t want to talk about that).