My chickens have been moulting for about six weeks now and haven’t been laying. Their feathers are quite nice again now. Is there anything I can do to get them to lay again? Liz Foulis

Jeremy Hobson says:

Some birds take longer than others to moult (six weeks is about average for healthy young stock), but it is important that they do so naturally and in their own time – the moult is, apart from anything else, Nature’s way of giving chickens a bit of a break! The fact that they have re-feathered well means that you’ve obviously been feeding them correctly: however, you might like to try adding a little linseed meal, soyabean meal and/or cod-liver oil. It also depends on the breed as to how quickly they will come back into lay – some are not designed to lay right through winter. Finally, to lay well, chickens need a fair amount of daylight, which is difficult to obtain naturally in the autumn and winter so some chicken-keepers increase the ‘daylight’ hours by using artificial light – if you try this, it is important to ensure that your light source is safe and preferably checked by a qualified electrician.

Liz replied: Thank you so much for your advice. One chicken is an Araucana and the other is a Marans. Can you tell which chickens might lay in the winter? We live in Scotland, so the daylight in quite short too. I will give them the suggested supplements and hopefully they’ll start laying!

Jeremy says: Both should lay through the winter – the Araucana ought, because it is a light (therefore more of an egg-laying type) breed, lay more than the Marans which is a heavy (dual-purpose) breed. However, having kept Marans, I know they lay well for most of the year (I’ve never kept Araucanas!)

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