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I'm not putting this in Country/OTG forum because I am neither in the country nor off-the grid. I just happen to have three chickens in my backyard. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"><br><br>
My hens have all but stopped laying since the days have become drastically shorter. My two Buff Orpingtons lay one or two eggs each a week now, and my Araucana/Americana/hatchery mutt has not layed a single egg in almost two months! The mutt has also begun to molt, and she's only six months old!<br><br>
I know if I light the coop a few more hours a day, they will start laying again. But I'm torn on whether this is "natural" for them... Do they <i>need</i> a rest in the winter? Will they be useful longer (lay for more years) if I allow them a rest? Or am I just getting fewer eggs and wasting money on feed? These are "pets", sort of, but I really really want eggs again, and that's why I have them. (I don't imagine I would ever, um, "dispatch" them if they stopped laying. They'd be allowed to retire until they expire naturally.)
 

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I'm no expert, but I would <i>guess</i> that they "rest" from laying in the wintertime because there is less free range food to eat, so the body wants to conserve the food for itself insted of reproduction. Since you're feeding your pet hens though the winter, I doubt their bodies really need the rest like it's wild ancestors did.
 
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