Originally Posted by Birdrain92
I prefer to work with nature. I know how to throw my birds off but I prefer not to.
Yes, @Birdrain92, that's absolutely the best way -- you and @KsKingBee are smart not to introduce light that artificially lengthens the day light hours. The little (not so little anymore) spalding hen managed all winter with no light and no heat -- quite nerve wracking given that she's a spalding and our nights get pretty cold -- but she only went in her box when the weather was truly awful, spent the rest of the evenings on her carpeted perch outside. No eggs from her.
Unfortunately, because my twisted tibia male cannot cover his feet very well with the bad leg, I feel as though it is not safe for him to be without heat. If that bad leg gets frost-bitten, he's done for. The heat lamps keep the coop just above freezing (or barely below) on our coldest nights, and he does okay with that. He's not looking great this year, but he's managing. He uses a lot more energy just trying to get around every day. Next year I am hoping I will have a better heat source that doesn't also put out light. Even with the red bulbs, I think there is just too much light in the coop at night. Everybody else is in there with him. Both the BS hen and the not-so-little anymore opal SP hen have been laying since just after Christmas.
BTW, I think it is not just hours of daylight -- perhaps part of the trigger is the INCREASING hours of daylight. In other words, there may be something in the rate of change rather than just the straight day length involved. That might explain why we hear about some northern birds laying earlier than some southern ones... the day length varies more dramatically (and more rapidly) up there. It's clearly not just temperature -- I'm not sure if temperature is even a factor. These hens have been laying in January (or even December) here for the last two winters and it was getting down to just about freezing in the coop for many of those nights. But the eggs kept on a comin'. Anyway, I think things will go more traditionally once I have a darker solution, lol.