Convince me not to extend daylight hours.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by welsummer4, Nov 27, 2010.

  1. welsummer4

    welsummer4 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 16, 2010
    I'm considering adding a cool-burning LED bulb to my coop to extend daylight hours a bit. This wouldn't be for increased egg production, but rather to give the hens more time to eat and scratch. We only have 8 or 9 hours of daylight here right now, so I thought this might improve their overall well-being. My plan is to set a timer to turn the light on at 5 or 6 in the a.m., and off again at 8 a.m., extending their day by about 2 hours.

    That said, I'd really like to hear from folks who don't advocate this course. Tell me why I shouldn't artificially extend daylight hours, and how it might adversely affect my flock.

  2. Up-the-Creek

    Up-the-Creek Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 16, 2008
    West Virginia
    Not that I advocate it, but some say it is messing with the natural cycle of things. It gives the girl a rest.
  3. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I have 16 hens in the coop with a light that goes on at 6AM and off at 8PM.

    I'm averaging an egg a day out of that coop.

    I have a breeding pen with 7 hens and no light. I'm averaging 2.5 eggs a day.

    I have another breeding pen with 5 hens, no light. Zero eggs for over two months.

    Go fig.

    This is my worst November in three years. The last two years I was getting 75 to 80 eggs a week. Now I'm lucky to get 25.
  4. Ed62

    Ed62 Chillin' With My Peeps

    When we left for a few hours the other day, I put the chickens in the coop about 2 P.M. because I didn't want to leave the pop door open after dark (coons!). I left a light on for them because it gets dark in the coop pretty early. When we got home, I turned it off. Normally I do not extend the daylight hours for them.

    I'm a little surprised that we still get about 5 - 6 eggs a week, and I think we only have 1 hen laying.

  5. annaserv

    annaserv Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 17, 2008
    northern Wisconsin
    My coop isn't that bright so I have a light on a timer. This year I made sure to adjust it to way less light in the fall. I think last year it delayed their molt cycle (Having the light set for too long)and I had poor birds molting in December and January. This year I think my chickens are all done and have their new fluffy feathers just in time for the cold weather.
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Darkness is important for the body's melatonin production. Melatonin has many benefits for the body....even chicken bodies. Not just the hours of darkness of the day, but the actual darkness is the key.

    The most well-known effect of melatonin is that it regulates the sleep cycle. Production of melatonin by the pineal gland increases with darkness. Increased melatonin levels, in turn, promote sleep.
    Melatonin is not essential for sleep to occur. Many people take naps during the daylight hours and can stay awake into the early hours of the morning, although melatonin levels are very low at this time. Still, most people find it very difficult to stay awake all night and sleep during the day. Melatonin does, somehow, make sleeping easier. The abnormal production of melatonin has been linked to sleeping difficulties. Many blind people who do not have any perception of light also have an abnormal pattern of melatonin production. They may not have higher levels during the night or their highest levels of melatonin can actually occur during the day. These individuals tend to have sleeping disorders. They may have difficulty sleeping at night and take naps during the daytime. Exactly how melatonin is related to the maintenance of a normal sleep cycle is not yet understood.
    Reproductive effects
    Melatonin influences the level of other hormones in the body. It has been shown to have a particularly strong effect on prolactin and luteinizing hormone, both of which are major reproductive hormones. Some authorities caution that it may reduce the sexual drive in men.
    The natural production of melatonin by the pineal gland peaks at the age of only four or five years of age. Since a decrease in its production occurs during sexual maturation, researchers warn that taking it during adolescence may have a detrimental effect on puberty.
    Immune effects
    Melatonin has been shown to boost certain parts of the immune system. It boosts the activity of natural killer cells, a type of immune cell. It also prevents apoptosis, a type of destruction of T-lymphocytes, which are other important immune cells found in the bloodstream.

    I like my birds to have the benefit of melatonin, a good sleep and rest for their bodies, a good immune system and a healthy fluctuation of hormones. Imagine being on a continual estrogen flow...seems like a person would need a break also, let alone a chicken. I don't need eggs badly enough to compromise the health of my chickens nor do they need to eat and scratch any more than they already do in the daylight hours available. They free range and get to scratch quite a bit and are not suffering nutritionally at this time.​
  7. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    Sun comes up, sun goes down, world tips back and forth, days get longer and shorter. Everything is a circle, why mess with it. There is a natural rythem to nature no matter what part of the world your standing. Getting 16 to 18 eggs a day from 23 hens. We's all happy here.
  8. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    Last winter my 3 red sex link hens gave me 1-3 eggs per day.They were locked 24/7 in a 6 by 8 metal shed with no insulation,and 2 very small windows I made with plexiglass and duct tape. The shed was dark!

    I was suprised we got eggs.My concern was the cold. I would not add light or heat.
  9. JimWWhite

    JimWWhite Chillin' With My Peeps

    I wouldn't just as 33YardBirds says, "Why mess with it?" Hens have a finite number of ovules (?) which means that once they're gone, they're spent and good for nothing more than the crockpot. Why push that day any closer?
  10. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    I do extend morning hours, but it's for me, not the chickens - I have to go out and refill the water,clean the coop, etc before work and it's still dark out there. With light, I can shoo them into the run and get my work done. I don't extend in the evening at all. If I have to (shudder) buy eggs, so be it. [​IMG]

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