Last winter I used artificial lighting to enhance egg production. The results were very good and I sustained near full production however I have now learned some side effects not thought of before doing it.
I guess the reason I'm writing this is to inform others like me whom are newer to chickens and want to do things based on information we hear about. When I decided to use artificial lighting I primarily looked looked at the positive egg production and researched very little about any possible downside.
The conclusion I have reached is that I will not use artificial lighting. In my opinion unless your a commercial egg producer and are continually turning over flock artificial lighting should not be used. Here is why. Although I was pretty proud and excited about my winter production at the time I found out this summer how not giving my girls the natural break that winter gives them, how it effects them. My moulting routine was drastically altered and my summer production was also. I can't help but believe that altering the chickens natural cycles is bad for them. My normally happy egg layers were Blaise'e more often then not this summer. The 2 year olds are just now starting to get back to their normal laying habits. Last years pullets faired a little better and bounced back quicker but the 3 year olds really seemed to be effected most negatively. The 3yo's virtually stopped laying.
In order to keep production where I want it this winter I used the old school natural method. I added 20 more layers to my flock. If they only lay 2-3 per wk because of their natural cycle during short days then so be it. Under my flock plan I need about 15 eggs a day to keep everyone I supply fresh eggs with happy. It's a little more work have the larger flock over the winter but in comparison to how the existing girls reacted this summer to last winters artificial light plan it's well worth it to me.
I know for many doubling their flock size is not a viable option but in my humble opinion it's better that we as humans make the sacrifice of maybe having to buy a few eggs from the grocery store in the winter over altering our chickens natural cycles.
From my experience small flock owners are making a big mistake inducing egg laying by the use of artificial lighting. Again this is just my opinion based on my last winters experiment. Happy hens lay more eggs! Thanks