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Adding light for earlier laying

post #1 of 2
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Last year, my hens did not start to lay until June. I had them penned up with a small outdoor run through Spring hunting season. That may have had something to do with the late clutches, but I want to make sure they start laying in March or April this year. I'm not going to pen them up this hunting season, since they're pretty good at staying in the yard and there were no hunters around the property last year.
I'm going to add light to their coop. Right now (late February) in Wisconsin, sunrise is just before 7 am and sunset is between 5:30 and 6 pm.
Should I ease them into more light, or is it ok to turn on the lights at 4am to get them 14 hours of light right away?

Do toms need anything special to get them to breed with the hens? My primary tom roosts outside, unless it is -20 out at night (which I hope is done for the year.)
They're all heritage mutts, most likely a mix of standard bronze and slate.
Would an unbred hen start laying before being with a tom?
post #2 of 2
It can be done, but one can induce tumors in reproductive organs by alteration of light - and the tumors will spontaneously resolve by then cutting back on light. Pretty in depth info.:

Yes, they can lay eggs without being bred. If bred, the hen can store viable sperm for some time - over a month in Broad Breasted variety.

Separate the breeding tom and hen in a pen, alone (cuts down on fighting - potential for injury to hen). Keep in mind that the hen calls the tune on whether to be bred - so, if one tom doesn't suit, switch him out for another.

Make sure to provide a secure location for the hens to nest in (if out and about they'll be sneaky and will hide nest from you, but will often choose the most predator prone area of property).
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