Does Daylight Savings Time affect chickens?
Well, the short answer is no. Of course chickens don’t have a need to understand numerical times, but YES they are affected by the shortening of days.
Autumn can be a rough time for chickens. You probably have noticed all of your birds molting. Molting happens to every chicken, every fall. They drop their old feathers, and grow in a new, fresh set for winter. They can be more vulnerable to cold during this time. Some of my girls go almost completely naked during molting season. One named Smarty, gets so puny, she literally looks like a disgruntled pigeon as she runs across the yard.
Chickens are creatures of habit. Their clock is the sun. It doesn’t matter to them if bedtime used to be at 9:00, but now it’s at 6:00. When the sun sets, that tells chickens it’s time to go up. Personally, the chickens going to bed earlier works for me! If you lock your flock up at night, you know the struggle of getting everyone in the coop when it’s still bright outside at 8:45pm in the summer.
With the sun as their guide, chickens undergo some internal changes when the days shorten. They now will lay less eggs, even stopping completely in winter. The darker days trigger the molt, which I mentioned previously. They will be spending more energy staying warm.
Just remember to please give your flock more energy rich foods this fall and winter. Whole corn makes a great evening snack for them, and will heat up their bodies during nighttime digestion. (It’s also a great way to persuade them to go up!) Ensure the coop is free of drafts and remember- no water inside the coop. (This prevents frostbite.)
Daylight Savings Time can be rough on everyone, chickens and humans included. Just prepare to hunker down and bring plenty of snacks- for your flock that is!