We have Black Orpingtons and golden-laced Wyandottes. Both are winter hardy and good layers. But during the winter, these chickens will stop laying. Hens are sensitive to day length, and particularly to the direction in which day length is changing, when it comes to laying eggs. Declining day lengths discourage egg production. It is usual for the flock to go out of production in the latter part of fall because the days get shorter. A flock owner can avoid this problem and maintain egg production year round by using artificial lighting to give the hens a long day length no matter what the season. We don’t do this, as it seems to us that the hens need a break. In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. ~William Blake
Our hens are prone to being broody, meaning that they will try to incubate eggs to make them hatch. They are more likely to become broody if they are allowed to accumulate eggs in a nest. This happens mostly during spring under natural daylight as the hens come into production due to the increasing day length. To avoid this problem, we pick up eggs at least once a day to prevent the hen from building a clutch.
Mother Earth News says:
Not long ago, most farms and households in the United States played host to at least a small flock of chickens. Chores such as collecting eggs and butchering birds were a part of daily life for all but the most urban residents. In many cases, the household’s flock consisted of a multipurpose breed suitable for egg production and of sufficient size to fill a frying pan when young, or to roast when mature.
For those interested in reviving the tradition of a hardy, homestead flock, we’ve compiled key characteristics and anecdotal information on 20 compelling heritage chicken breeds, including the Rhode Island Red, Leghorn, Australorp, Jersey Giant and more. In addition to a short description of the breed’s dominant features, the following chart includes the bird’s size, comb type, plumage, egg color, primary use and origin.