I am going to use your post to respond to more points than your own.
First, I do not think anyone here is truly breeding for egg production. I have seen (read) no evidence of this on this thread. Culling poor layers is not breeding for improvement on this point. That is merely attempting at maintaining a status quo. Breeding for improvement is an actual and intelligent process. Who here is actually breeding for improved numbers? Heck, here numbers are disregarded all together, ironically,
We like the idea of it, but no one is doing it.
The proof of winter laying is overstated. It runs both ways. You cannot prove either, without the other. In other words, if I run lights . . . would they lay well without them? If I do not run lights, will they achieve the text book numbers that everyone claims but does not have actually? In one we cannot prove their potential, and in the other we cannot see what their worst is.
The good thing about both is that who is better at one, is generally better at the other. Some are better low light layers, but this is unrelated to the extended laying cycles of the best layers. The best laying pullets, usually end up the best winter layers. With the best layers, your question is irrelevant. Both would be best at both. I will say again, the best winter layers are the best laying pullets, generally speaking.
There was some mention of breeds being better at this or that. To see this intelligently, we should disregard breed, and discuss strains of breeds. There is variety among breeds, strains of breeds, lines, flocks, and individuals. Concerning our experiences, we should say I had this experience with this strain of this breed. Then we are speaking objectively, accurately, and honestly.
The tips on storing eggs is interesting and helpful. However, should a breeder of poultry need to store eggs? I never have. We should have our pullets laying almost full sized eggs before our hens molt. A breeder has more than one generation of birds on their yard. The first year pullets are the best winter layers. They are laying through the hen's molt and through the winter. They will not be laying at the rate that they will in the spring, but they will be laying (managed well).
Concerning lights in general, it is a personal choice. I have gone both ways. Lights are tools that can be helpful. The tools used, or the management options are up to the manager. The real point is that we are consistent and they we manage them well consistently. The best winter layers, are the best laying pullets.
We are in 2016, and not in 1816. We have options that were not available then, and we have birds that are better than then. We have made progress on both points. Now, there is nothing wrong with excluding lights. I do now. I have in the last few years. I do not need them. I do not use lights because I do not need to use lights. That is not to say that I never will again. I always reserve the right to change my mind.
There are good reasons why I might again. Old cocks tend to be less than adequate early in the season, but the fertility is functionally adequate later in the season. If we are concerned with vigor, health, and longevity, we will use these old cocks that have been proven. We want to get as much out of them as we can. There is one that I am considering turning the lights on for this year. It will depend on what my schedule for them ends up being, but I want to get out of him what I can. Every egg that I can get from him this year will be valuable. I do not know how many more seasons that I can use him practically. My point in sharing this is that lights are a management option at our disposal. We do not want to become so rigid in our ideology that we exclude good and viable options.
On or off does not matter. What matters is that we are consistent. The best winter layers are the best laying pullets.
I imagine all of this could vary from region to region. My experiences here would be different than the UP of Michigan. As dark, cold, and long as those winters are . . . I might add a light bulb to their houses. Here, the pullets lay well enough even on the coldest and darkest days. Big and sudden drops in temperature may affect them temporarily. Any change can do that at any time. The birds do not like change.
Hello, I've been trying to catch up before posting anything, so far I have made it to page 190 (Jan 2015!). I've started skipping ahead reading the newest posts because there are so many catching up is difficult. :-)
I plan on breeding for egg production, I'm interested in large, leghorn-white eggshell white eggs, but not from single combed breeds (e.g. Mediterranean breeds) and as soon as I catch up I hope it's OK if I ask a lot of questions. Lots of invaluable information on this thread. Thanks everyone for sharing your knowledge and experience- I'm really enjoying reading the posts.
Edited by CanadianBuckeye - 12/7/15 at 9:06am