day length and activity

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,402
17,838
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
As photoperiod shortens and light intensity lessens my birds are compressing their activities into fewer and fewer hours. I think the shortened day makes it more difficult for birds to eat, especially when they must find their own food. This last full moon the birds actually came off roost a 2:00 AM. They were trying to make themselves owl bait. They could not see well enough to forage so they went back to roost after about 45 minutes or so. Those of you with birds at very high latitudes seen such behavior?
 

emys

Songster
11 Years
Nov 19, 2008
1,416
12
161
Idaho
I take it you leave your coop door open??

I don't think I've ever been awake and looking into my coop at 2 am on a full moon. Maybe mine have been up too, but I wouldn't be able to tell...
 

Olive Hill

Crowing
10 Years
Apr 19, 2009
4,203
134
253
Ditto the 'I'm not out there checking the chickens at 2am on a full moon to know'
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Mine are locked in the coop at night to keep predators at bay. They're let out shortly after first light in the morning and locked up at dark. Shorter days do result in less time for them to find food, but you also have to remember it also (should) result in less physical activity so their needs are reduced as well. Here, the shorter days coincide with colder temps and sooner or later much reduced forage opportunities anyway, so we just expect them to eat more feed, less forage.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,402
17,838
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
My odd hours of observations in part a function of work but still relavent.


Observation made initially on free range birds that are not confined while on roost. If you have good guard animal such as dog and / or myself, then lock down not only option for predator control. Birds of initial observation roost in elavated location just under lamp or in trees. Birds on porch I can hear flying and making usual contact calls as milling around in yard. Activity otherwise appears related to preening. Upon seeing birds walking in yard I went to coops that are closed dusk till dawn and those birds were down and about in coops as well. Moonlight has been bright enough over last two nights that I can see colors and read. I still think light levels too low to enable feeding or some other factor is preventing feeding at this time.

Daily feed intake requirments are increasing owing to decreasing temperatures which over ride requirements needed to support activity. Also requirments up do to ongoing molt (feather replacement as well as reduced insulation for body core). As you note forage base is collapsing on side of insects and greens soon to follow. My birds can compensate by extending their foraging ranges which they are doing. Duration of night getting long enough that crops are evacuated / emptied well before refeeding the following morning. Just a couple months ago I could go out and feel crops and detect grain even as late as 4:00 AM. They were also going to roost almost two hours later.

My birds also fed with formulated feeds and intact grains serving as staple. The feed container is not allowed to empty yet I estimate at least a 1/3 of intake is acquired from foraging. The appear to fill up at feeders only twice a day with 15 minute feeding bouts, balance of foraging in pasture which their ranges now include nearly 4 acres of.
 

emys

Songster
11 Years
Nov 19, 2008
1,416
12
161
Idaho
Interesting. So, have you been able to observe them on similar full moon night in summer? Are they not also more active on those nights?
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,402
17,838
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
Quote:
I went out numerous times during summer and observed no such behavior. This appears to occur when photperiod short only. I bet folks in Iceland, Scottland, Alaska and northern Canada see this too.
 

gritsar

Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
13 Years
Nov 9, 2007
28,906
336
661
SW Arkansas
I have gone out to my coop at 2 o'clock in the morning, even later too. We are night people, so I'm wide awake then.
My chickens are in a Ft.Knox coop at night, so I haven't noticed anything unusual, except for my Jezebel talking to herself. That chicken never shuts up.
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