# Light augmentation

#### MLWoods

##### In the Brooder
7 Years
Reading Storey's Guide To Raising Chickens, 3rd edition, pp. 192-195, Gail Demerow gives detailed information about light exposure. My chicks were hatched 8/24/12 so if I have done my math correctly (and I know I didn't!), they should be getting 14h 5min of daylight this week. I think I am calculating this wrong, because if I adjust the light as she has described at 24 weeks/laying age they will not be getting the suggested 14h a day. Can someone tell me where I have gone wrong? Next, does this even matter? Since I did not start this off when they hatched, should I bother getting on track now?
Thanks Everyone,
Lauren

I'm not familiar with that formula so I don't know where you've gone wrong with the math. If you wish, you can figure out the date you’re looking for and look for duration of daylight on this chart.

http://aa.usno.navy.mil/cgi-bin/aa_durtablew.pl

I have no idea if her calculation will work. I don't really believe in any magic numbers for chickens. They are all individuals. Not all chickens start laying at the same time so why would 24 weeks be magical?

It’s pretty normal for some first year pullets to lay throughout the winter and never molt whether you provide extra light or not. I do not provide extra light. I had some last fall that started laying early December, just before the winter solstice during the shortest days of the year with the days still getting shorter. Those were around 21 weeks old. But some of those waited until February to start laying, when the days are getting noticeably longer. I have five right now that were hatched April 2 and none of them have started laying yet. It's all very individual to the chicken.

Commercial operations strongly influence when their pullets start to lay by controlling the light. Light does play a part. They keep the lighting to a minimum, I think somewhere around 9 hours of light a day, until they are ready for them to lay commercial sized eggs, then they increase the light to maybe 14 hours to kick start them into laying. (I wonder if that is where the 24 weeks came from?) They really don't want them laying too early since the eggs are often small or misshapen. Those eggs are not as valuable as Grade A Large eggs and they have fewer health problems if they are more mature when they start to lay. That 14 hours is optimum where they control all the light, not just because of the length of light but because that works out best for their feeding schedule to get the most efficient feed to egg ratio. That's where the 14 hours of daylight comes from. It's most efficient for their overall operations when they control all the light.

I understand yours are first year pullets hatched in August. You should not have to worry too much about extending light. The days should be getting longer when they hit laying age. You might be able to kick-start their laying in January or February by extending the light and make the days really seem longer, or you can wait and see when they start on their own. There probably won't be much difference.

But what you do not want to do is to make the days get shorter once they start to lay. You don’t want a power outage. It’s not length of day that controls the molt, it’s whether the days are getting shorter. That’s the main reason 14 hours is not a magical number. If you live far enough from the equator where you get more than 14 hours of daylight during summer, your hens can go into molt before the days get as short as 14 hours. If you live close to the equator your hens may never see as much as 14 hours of daylight, but their laying and molting is still controlled by the days getting longer or shorter.

I know this is long. To summarize, there is nothing magic about 14 hours. Extending the light can help, but with yours it is probably not necessary this season. If you wish to stop them from molting next, you may need more than 14 hours of daylight.

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