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How long to try artificial lighting?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 5acresandadream, Oct 31, 2016.

  1. 5acresandadream

    5acresandadream Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi! Newbie here :) I have a question about using artificial light to get my hens to lay. My hens include a few barnyard mutts I hatched out of neighbors eggs this past April, a barred rock hen we found in the work parking lot ( long story lol) and 3 white leghorn hens (not sure of age, but I believe they are under 2 yrs). My rooster is a gentle buff orphington. The young mutts haven't started laying yet, and my leghorns completely stopped a few weeks ago (they went through a move, they were my mothers and they stopped laying so she didn't want them anymore). Today is day 8 of having a light in my coop, its on a timer and they are getting 18 hours of light a day, because I read in a different thread that is what they should get if they aren't laying. My question is, how long should it take for them to start laying with the help of the lighting? So that I can know if the lighting is the issue or if I have to try something else.
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    How big is your coop, and how many watts of light? What type of light is it? CFL or incandescent, or something else. Did you ramp the length of day light up slowly, or just set it for 18 hours immediately. From my reading, it's important to increase the light slowly. I've used 14 hours/total/day and many folks have good luck with that number. Others have used 12 and had good luck. Curious about where the 18 hour recommendation came from. When I put my birds on light, I am a bit unconventional. "They say" to start the light as soon as the days start getting shorter in late summer, and to provide it in the morning, so the birds have a natural twilight. I let my birds go through a molt, and wait till they've taken a natural break in their production, then slowly ramp up to 14 hours, providing light at both ends of the day. My birds usually start laying after 2 - 3 weeks.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. 5acresandadream

    5acresandadream Out Of The Brooder

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    My light is a 50w I think, before I started reading more I had it on 24/7 for about 3 days then I read that can stress them so I lowered it to 18 hours as someone said on a Google search. My coop is over 8x4 feet but I'm not 100% sure how big.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    I asked a poultry science professor basically the same thing at a seminar I was at recently. His answer was basically 2-4 weeks after you start lighting them. He also said there was no need to gradually increase the light, just go right to the 14ish hours. Not sure if I like that or not personally, I think the gradual might be best, but he has far more experience [​IMG]
     
    2 people like this.
  5. 5acresandadream

    5acresandadream Out Of The Brooder

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    That really helps! I'm going to go ahead and decrease the number of hours I'm giving them. I dont want them to get stressed. Hopefully giving them 14 hours does the trick.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Interesting. Case of the "they saids" vs. the experts. Bottom line: do what makes sense to you. I think I may use this info, and if I do provide light later on this fall/winter, go straight to the 14 hours.
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I'm going to try it, also. Last year I did the gradual thing and it did work. But this could be faster.

    Granted, this professor was way more to the commercial side of things, not the backyard side. He wasn't big into "animal welfare", either. His theory was if they produce, they're happy enough. Not quite my line of thinking, so I'm taking what he said with a grain of salt. But, he's been a poultry professor since the 80s and has tons more experience with things like this than I do.

    I figure it can't hurt to try.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    It's been my experience that hens lay well with closer to 12 -13 hours of total light and the mandated 14 hours isn't really necessary. I'm talking supplementing light to stretch the eleven hours of natural light at this time of year.

    I've never added supplemental light to stretch the total all the way to 14 hours, and I have had excellent results. However, over the past several years, I have not supplemented light until now since I've wanted to give my molting hens a much deserved rest.

    Two days ago I mounted a lamp with a 60 watt bulb in my second coop which houses three six-month old EEs, two of which are showing signs they're ready to start laying. The other occupants of this second coop are a three-month old pullet and her broody mama, who has just completed molt, so if the light stimulates her to start laying, it won't be that hard on her, especially since I figure she had her "vacation" on the front end when she was incubating her chick's egg and brooding her.

    I set the timer to come on two hours before sunrise, and in a month, I plan on increasing it to three hours as the days get even shorter. This has worked well for me. It still remains to be seen if it will get me eggs from these new pullets before spring though.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I've used supplemental lighting for 3 winters....with varying results in molting and production.
    It would take some real controlled experiments to know what is most effective and what varying intervals/increases are most effective.
    Then again we're talking live animals...so that could trump all our machinations.
    Many other things affect laying production.

    This year I am not using it(unless I break down later-haha) to see what happens with my 10 pullets and 10 hens.

    Main points I've gathered from all my reading is:
    12-14 hours is best.
    White light is needed to stimulate glands.
    Abrupt changes/inconsistent intervals can cause havoc.

    Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks for the link, aart. I always bow to the wisdom and knowledge of the Chicken Chick! [​IMG]

    The issue of artificial lighting and laying poultry is a fascinating one. Here's a short article describing the different effects colored lights have on layers and poultry in general. http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/2820/new-studies-examine-effects-of-lighting-on-chickens/ Here's what I've learned:

    All light comes from white light which has all the colors mixed together. That's what sunlight is made of. Any color light will work to stimulate laying, and it can be very low output. Red gets the job done while having a calming effect. (No heat lamps, though!) It has the added benefit of encouraging sexual development, which is desirable with my three pre-point-of-lay pullets.

    Florescent light is awful for all living things. Never use it for poultry. LEDs are fine.

    I'm using a small wattage incandescent bulb, more pinkish than red. I like those rope lights, though. I think I'll get a set for each coop. They take up no space and I'm always bumping into the lamp in my second coop.

    As an aside, I got up early to observe the behavior of my chickens in my second coop after the light came on, but it was still pitch dark outside. I found all three of my six-month olds had been kicked out of the coop by the broody hen, and they were cowering just outside, yearning to go back inside, but Linda was refusing them entry. I believe everyone should get up early and see what the artificial light is causing their chickens to do. It can be quite informative.

    I solved the problem by scooping up Linda and installing her on a perch in the main coop so the three pullets could go back inside. Now I'll need to re-train her to roost in the main coop. Gads! My work never ends![​IMG]
     

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