When we built the chicken coop last winter, one feature we added was a loft for storage. We had a couple of random things up there at first, but a couple of weeks ago I bought 4 bales of hay to feed the rabbits. The loft was the perfect place to store them and keep them dry. I knew the chickens would eventually figure this out, but I stacked them in the loft so that it made it difficult to access. Earlier this week I noticed a missing hen and when I went looking realized she was in the loft. I chased her out and found 2 eggs. So I reshuffled things to try and keep them out and told me wife we need to build some sort of door or something to keep them out.
At this same time I have noticed a change to less and less day light and the expected drop in egg production. As the days get shorter the chickens naturally slow down laying eggs as nature intended. So much so that over the weekend we were actually out of eggs at the house, we only had whatever the girls had laid that day. Turned out to be a good day, 8 eggs from 12 layers. Side note here, there is an argument for either letting nature take its course and give the chickens a rest period from laying over the winter months. The other side is the by providing 12-16 hours of artificial light they can continue to lay through the winter. I have done both at our old house, but since we are here and in this for the long term we will let them rest this winter. There are breeds that are better winter layers than others like the Buff Orpingtons and Leghorns. I have also read that most breeds will continue to lay well the first year, but will molt and lay less the second winter. The fix to this is to stagger the age of your flock so you always have new layers going into each winter.
That leads us to this morning. I went to let the girls out and offered up some scratch. Then I proceeded to use one of the roost as a ladder to check the loft for any more random eggs. At first there were a couple near the edge, so I decided to rearrange the hay bales again to try and keep them out. This is when I discovered the mother-load on top of a hay bale. Ugh! There ended up being 27 eggs in the loft (that I found, might be more if I do a through cleaning). Good news is the egg shortage is over, but this does move up the schedule to build an access door to the loft.
Happy Egg Hunting!