Another lighting question...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bobbi-j, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    In all my years of chicken keeping, I haven't had this one happen before. (Maybe because until I got my new coop and run they didn't live long enough for it to happen...) All my hens have stopped laying at once. I think they're molting because they all look pretty ragged. Anyway, I'm going to start giving them extra light so I can have eggs through the winter. My question is: Do I just start with the 3 extra hours of light right away, or should I gradually increase it to give them time to adjust? In the past, I know they've slowed down their laying as fall came, but never have they just all stopped. They free range, so there could be a hidden nest somewhere, but usually they lay in the coop. Just one or two would lay elsewhere, and I know those places. Last week I kept them confined to the coop and run all week to force them to lay in the nests (or at least where I could find the eggs). I got 1 egg out of 12 hens. That's it. My other thought is I might have an egg-eater, but isn't there usually some evidence left behind? Yolk, shell, or at least goopy shavings in the nest box?

    ETA - They're all eating and drinking normally, so I don't think there are any other problems.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2011
  2. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010
    If you believe they are molting, why add light? They are stressed enough from the process, I think adding light to force laying will be more harmful...I would wait it out and see what happens, give them a week or two of just natural light and see if they are truly molting...
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I would keep them on low light till moulting is over. The shorter days usually stimulates the molting and you're better off if they all get it over at once. I would also give a higher protein food now like 18 or 20% grower. No eggs so no calcium needed. Feathers are about 95% protein so they can't make them and eggs at the same time. If memory serves me I believe it's methionine that is the primary amino acid needed for making feathers.
    When the molt is over I just kick the lighting up to 12 or so hours. No need to do it gradually.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2011
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    I agree with everyone else. And they don't lay while molting. Wait until they have recovered from molting, then add light if you wish. Give them extra protein now to help them grow their feathers.
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Thank you for your replies. I'll just let them be for now.

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