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Do hens need light on during the night? - Page 2

post #11 of 23

I am expecting to see this again next Winter. But, I didn't expect it to begin on the first days of Spring.

Some folks will say that a light in the coop does not show compassion. Many who express this idea live where darkness lasts no more than 14 hours on the shortest day of the year. (like Hendersonville, North Carolina - latitude 35° North)

Others will say that chickens need adequate lighting during the Winter. Many who express this idea live where darkness lasts over 16 hours on the shortest day of the year.

I live farther north than any part of Maine. And, there are people who keep chickens much farther north than here. But honestly, I'm getting tired of hearing that turning on a light for the chickens is "unhealthy," "unfair," and somehow - less than ethical.

Perhaps, my moral failing is keeping chickens this far north and that in itself is unethical.

Steve

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post #12 of 23

But just think about it.  Here you are, in your bed, in the dark of night and suddenly a light comes on!  I guess I'd lay an egg or something too!  At least the sun comes up slowly


Sounds like everyday around here.  Gotta get the kids to school and me to work before 8 so we are up before the sun so on with the lights.  Got to feed the horses before I leave so on with the barn lights so I can see what I'm doing.  By that time the horses, calf and chickens and dogs are all demanding breakfast.   

  An easy way to fix that problem would be to have the light on in the evening.  Then the sun could wake them up slowly and they could stay up a bit later.

post #13 of 23

We just got 12 5-month-old pullets and the woman we got them from said that they've had (bulb) light 24 hrs/day since they hatched and that we should continue that for a while and then slowly decrease the hours that the light is on.

Is this true?  It doesn't sound right, at least the part about leaving the light on all night.  So, we're concerned.

Whether or not this is the case, do they need to be slowly acclimated to darkness or can we just leave the light off and let them deal with it?

Thanks for any info!

post #14 of 23

I think that it was unfortunate that your pullets experienced the 24 hour light thru that entire period of time.

They are quite old now but, perhaps, getting the pullets on a schedule much more like natural daylight would benefit them. The hours of sunlight will increase until June 21st, anyway.

For the developing pullet: ". . . decreasing day length . . . slows ovarian development and allows the female to complete her skeletal growth before the rigors of egg production. . . ."

For the layer: "Please note that light periods longer than 17 to 18 hours may actually depress production."

Lighting For Small-Scale Flocks, The University of Maine
Here's wishing you the best of luck and welcome to BYC frow.

Steve

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post #15 of 23

Did she specify a white light, or a heat lamp?  I could see a heat lamp 24 hours a day, and a red one at that, but not a white light. 

I let my chickens do their thing this winter... and out of almost 30 hens I was getting maybe 5 eggs a day.  That's just not practical up here, with high feed prices and all, I just can't feed the girls all winter for nothing.  I need to at least break even.  I have a small 25 watt bulb on a timer that turns on about 7 in the morning, turns off about the time the sun comes up (in the peak of winter that's about 11am), turns on again when the sun goes down (again, in the peak of winter thats about 3pm), and turns off at about 8 or 9 pm.   That's still only about 12-14 hours of light, but it makes a huge difference.  Now we're getting natural light at 14 hours a day, and I'm finding 22-24 eggs a day.  You have to feed them more in the winter to get eggs, because they're expending a LOT of energy just keeping warm.  I've watched them in the mornings on the surveillance camera, and the light clicking on doesn't faze them one bit.

post #16 of 23

Thanks for your responses!

We're going to cut down their light to 16 hrs. starting tonight.  Or should we gradually cut them back from 24 to 16?

Really glad we got them out of there - awful, dirty place!

post #17 of 23

Minnesotan here frow

I tried to keep them on extra light during their first winter here and they went bonkers, screaming and fighting. Yeah extra light makes them lay more, which makes them more... let's say more energetic. Although the words crazy aggressive come to mind.

No extra light is the only option for me and them for their health and happiness. The last five winters have been no extra light and as little heat as possible and they are all in so much better shape this spring.

Plus, last years pullets didn't slow down with laying at all, I've been getting 12 eggs a day from the 14 of them. That's been consistent through the 'no light' winters, pullets in their first year lay right through, although some of the older (3+ years) girls slow down or stop.

Bottom line, you can talk all about what chickens in the wild would do, but the ones we keep are domestic animals in unnatural situations and it's up to us to figure out what's best for them. You can ask around in your area what other's who keep chickens do, but some of it is going to be observation and experience.

There's no single 'right' answer. You just have to find what works for you. smile

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post #18 of 23

Ella,
I'm just south of you and we had a VERY cold winter this year.  I think it was unusual, but I was wondering how you wintered your chicks w/o a heat source.  I'm just starting out, so I'm trying to learn all I can.  I figure your climate is fairly close to mine, so your info is much appreciated.

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post #19 of 23

digitS' :

Quote:
Originally Posted by chickensioux 

. . . they need 18 hours on natural light to lay on a reg. basis . . .


You'll need to load up those chickens and move north of Ketchikan to get 18 hours of sunshine, Chickensioux.

wink

Steve


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post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahclem 

Thanks for your responses!

We're going to cut down their light to 16 hrs. starting tonight.  Or should we gradually cut them back from 24 to 16?

Really glad we got them out of there - awful, dirty place!


Sounds like they're going to be spoiled now.  wink  Glad you can provide a better home!  You ought to see some of the places I've visited here... sickbyc Ick.

You might cut out a couple of hours each day if you don't want to shock their systems, but I don't know what the effects of suddenly cutting their light back would have on them.  Once I added the light, it took about a week for them to respond to it with more eggs, so maybe over a week gradually get them back to a "normal" daylight schedule.  smile

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