Hens not laying

My question for you is about chickens. I have Isa Brown and Barred Rock hens who are just 25 weeks old. Usually my new hens are laying already. I only have 1/4 of them laying. This is happening to 2 other people I know too. The one has Australorps the same age that are not laying at all. Is there something going on in environment that they aren’t laying? We all have different feed sources too so we don’t think it’s the feed. We are thinking that we got them too late and not enough light. I have now started to turn a dim light on about 4am. Any suggestions? It definitely baffles us as to what is going on to so many people.

You also said you will be butchering your roosters? Do you kill them outside then do the butchering and cleaning indoors? Earlier this week we butchered off the last of our old hens and it was cold!! It took my hands a few hours to thaw!

Cindy Hills
Wild Rose, Wisconsin

We’re having the same trouble with the pullets we raised late this year. As the days are so short now, we have to start providing extra light in the evening, so it tricks their time clocks into producing more eggs. For us, that means scheduling a few hours of generator running time each evening, as we are off grid. For those on grid, plugging a single CFL into a timer, and setting it to provide a few hours of extra light each evening will work. When we build our new chicken house (after the new barn is done), we plan on adding a small room to house deep cycle batteries and a charger, so we can give lights to the chickens without running the generator then. (Sometimes it’s convenient, as I’m doing wash, running water, etc. Other times it’s not and we feel it’s kind of a waste of money.)

No, we freeze our fingers, too! We pick a sunny, partly warm day and only do three at a time. We’ve found that in that time, our fingers don’t freeze too badly and the warm water from the scalding keeps the birds fairly warm for plucking and the bodies are still warm for the cleaning. Our fingers start to freeze when we rinse off the birds and table with a hose. Brrr. That’s what we get for putting it off so long! — Jackie

Canning in half-pint jars

I am a 72 year old, single person and do much of my canning in half pint jars. My questions is: When I am canning meat, like hamburger or meatloaf in half pint jars, how long should I keep the pressure up (11 lbs) on my pressure canner?

I think the safe answer is the same as pints, but I would like to know what you think about it. I did call the Ball Blue book people and their answer was “they haven’t did any testing on half pints” so they didn’t give me a answer. This would also be a good question for the magazine because many people are now canning more than ever.

Hazel Green, Alabama

Charles, you can up your half pints for the same length of time as you do your pints. I do it all the time and can’t imagine the Ball Blue Book folks not being able to tell you that! I find myself canning so many things in half pints, especially meats, as I use them as ingredients in mixed recipes and a pint is just too much. — Jackie


  1. Do not give extra light at night. Turn it on or use a timer early in the morning at night they will be milling around and when it shuts off they are stuck suddenly in the dark. Very unnatural and unsettling for layers. If the light goes on before sunrise and the sun comes up a few hours later its much more natural

  2. I don’t pluck my chickens when I butcher them. I skin them. I can have them ready to go into jars in 15 minutes from the time of butchering. So easy and not messy.

  3. I pressure-can chicken, pulled pork, roasted red peppers, and lots of other things in half-pints, and use the same time as for pints. One half pint jar of pulled pork heated with a little BBQ sauce makes a couple of very nice sandwiches for my wife and me, and a half pint of the peppers is just right for many of the dishes we make. Can stack a whole bunch of them in the canner too! And they work great with the Tattler lids!

  4. Those tiny little 4-oz jars are handy for single people and light eaters, too. I like to can diced meats in the tiny jars, then heat it up and pour over a baked potato for a quick and easy meal. Same for taco filling or pasta sauce. When I’m actually doing the canning it feels like a lot of work for such small jars, but they’re too handy not to use, at least for me.

  5. I thought my chickens not laying was just me and just because I don’t know what I am doing! Nice to hear other people are having troubles.

    Originally, I thought it was the lack of sunlight. I have a light in their coop but they never go in! Then I got my first egg. The day after I had fed them some leftover dog food. I read not to give them laying feed until they are laying. But maybe it was a case of not enough protein to start laying. I have them on the laying feed, they still only go into the coop to lay eggs but I am getting 3, 4, 5 and once 6 eggs a day.

    I did 6 roosters on a rather cold day in November, that was bad enough. I still have 3, I think, left to go. I plan on killing outside and gutting in the garage that has a wood stove in it. It is still going to be pretty bad, I think. Nice to know you all have the same problems as me. Makes me feel like less of a newbie!

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