Letting chickens out when using lights

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chix_club, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. chix_club

    chix_club New Egg

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    Sep 12, 2008
    Hi-
    We are starting to use lights (on a timer), so the chickens can get 12-14 hours of light a night, but as winter approaches, that means the lights are coming on as it is darker and darker outside. When the lights come on, the chickens get restless, and we even had them break a window trying to get out. Should we let them out when the lights come on?

    Seems like letting them out defeats the purpose, if it is dark outside. What do others do?
     
  2. PAJerry

    PAJerry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 22, 2008
    Waterford, PA
    There seems to be a lot of different practices regarding lights. Some say they should be timed to give 15 hours of light, and others say to light continously. One thing that seems to get overlooked is the needed intensity of the light. You really need very little to make a difference. Red light is supposed to be more effective than white light, and the recommendation I have read is that if you can read print by it, it is enough. Right now, I am using 2 LED nightlights that turn on when it gets dark (photo-cell). I tinted the lens red. The light is not very bright but seems adequate for my 6X8 coop. The flock seems ok with it so far. They roost normally and don't seem real active until the sun comes up. I guess I'll know more as time goes on.

    Messing with timers just seems like a lot of unnecessary fussing to me if a low level of full time lighting will still promote winter production.
     
  3. supermom

    supermom Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 10, 2008
    Last night I moved my 3 BR chicks into the coop with the older chickens. Since they are only 6 weeks old I put in a 75 watt red heat light. ALL the chickens hated it. I went out at 11pm to check on them and they were restless... chicks were walking around making all sorts of noise and the older chickens (18 weeks) were on roosts but not sleeping. As soon as I turned out the light the whole coop chilled out. Happily they were all good in the morning.
     
  4. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Iceland
    Our chickens have had light until 11PM since they were chicks. The lights stay
    on in their coop area and the spotlights in the run. They seem to do what they
    want. Some roost early and some are night owls.
     
  5. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    May 8, 2007
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    I would not open a coop door during the hours that it's dark outside, due to preditors.

    We've used timers to give a couple of our flocks a few extra hours of light a day. Our chickens have always just hung out in the coop, acting normally. They act like they do if they're inside on a really stormy day. They just hang out, eat, drink, look out the window.

    I'm wondering if your chickens are a more high strung breed than ours or if they have less square footage per chicken than we do. What breed of chickens do you have? How much space do they have? Does your flock get along well or are there any aggression issues? I was wondering if a chicken getting picked on might have been the one trying to escape the coop through the window. Do they have food and water in the coop? If you only keep those outside, that might be the problem, if they have to be in the coop hungry and thirsty first thing in the morning.

    You're having the light come on in the morning? You could try having it on in the evenings, instead. Or not use a light at all. The suggestion to use a dimmer light that's red might keep them a little calmer.

    We've used lights on a couple of different flocks, with a bunch of different breeds, but they've all been known for being pretty calm breeds. I raised some light-weight breeds for some friends of ours and there was a huge difference in temperament between our birds.
     
  6. chix_club

    chix_club New Egg

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    Sep 12, 2008
    Our chicken coop is 2-3 times the size recommended by UC Extension for the number of chickens we have, and we have a number of different varieties of chicken, some of them are heirloom varieties.

    We used to keep food & water in the coop with them, but then we got a terrible infestation of rats, so now we keep the food in tight metal containers outside.

    I'm thinking our light is too bright and they're just getting agitated. It is a 60 watt bulb for a 8X12' coop.
     
  7. twigg

    twigg Cooped up

    Mar 2, 2008
    Tulsa
    I give them light in the morning.

    I alter the timer to give 15 hours light, and they get a natural dusk which helps them settle more easily.

    Morning light also means they will lay early rather than late.

    They stay indoors until they are let out at the normal time (around 8.00am. They have food, water and access to a closed outside area before they are allowed to roam freely.

    Seems to work ok.
     
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I'm wondering... besides egg production, why would one need to have a light on? Are these chickens being raised for egg sales or just family consumption? I've never provided additional lighting for my chickens and let them go through their natural cycle in the winter. I didn't notice much slow down on egg production, so, unless one was losing money by not using lights, why would you want to? If these chickens are mainly for your own consumption, what is the urgency about keeping egg production up with lighting? Just curious.... [​IMG]
     
  9. twigg

    twigg Cooped up

    Mar 2, 2008
    Tulsa
    Quote:There is no urgency, just a desire to maximise egg production for the increasingly costly feed we give them.

    Spring hatched chicks will come into lay in August. If they are allowed to be natural, they will quit laying soon afterwards, as the day length shortens.

    With lighting they will lay right through the winter and all the way to the following September. At that point the lighting can be stopped, and a forced moult happens.

    They can then be brought back into lay in about 8 weeks.
     
  10. vickig

    vickig Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 26, 2008
    Texas
    "There is no urgency, just a desire to maximise egg production for the increasingly costly feed we give them.

    Spring hatched chicks will come into lay in August. If they are allowed to be natural, they will quit laying soon afterwards, as the day length shortens.

    With lighting they will lay right through the winter and all the way to the following September. At that point the lighting can be stopped, and a forced moult happens.

    They can then be brought back into lay in about 8 weeks."

    What is wrong with being natural? Sounds like a business to me.

    Poor hens.
     

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