Lights and Total Lifetime Egg Count

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jaycluck, May 22, 2016.

  1. jaycluck

    jaycluck New Egg

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    May 22, 2016
    Hi,

    I'm debating putting lights in my coop this winter to increase our hens' production. I'm wondering how this will impact their egg count over their lifespan. Will it give us more eggs in the winter without sacrificing later egg production? Or will it condense their egg production into a shorter time span?

    Thanks!
    Jay
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    How do you plan on managing your flock? Are you planning on keeping them until they die of old age, or replacing them after their 2nd or 3rd laying year when they naturally slow down anyway? If you're going to replace them in a couple of years, it's not going to matter anyway.
     
  3. jaycluck

    jaycluck New Egg

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    May 22, 2016
    We are planning on keeping our hens until their old age. So we'd like to maximize their eggs over their lifetime. So if adding lights in the winter means the hens will lay more eggs sooner and less later than we wouldn't want to do that. Does a hen have a finite # of eggs they can lay or can they always make more and their laying years are just dependent on time and health?
     
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I honestly don't know the answer to that question. I keep my chickens until they are about 3 or so, as the older they get, the more the production slows down and I keep them for the eggs and meat. They are not pets here. When I've kept them longer, they seem to have more health problems. I've had to put down several older ones due to ascites (basically a fluid-filled abdomen). I'd rather they live nice, healthy lives and have one bad day. And really - it's not a whole bad day because they don't know what's coming. They may have 30 seconds between being caught and being dispatched that they may be confused and then it's over. I'd rather process them while I can still use the meat. I won't eat a chicken that's not in good condition when I butcher it.
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Every hen is born with x number of ovum. Force more production out of them and the thought is they will quit laying sooner in life. Sex link hens will often lay every day and be done laying completely around 2-3 years of age. A breed like an Orpington who lays 3-5 eggs a week will continue to lay to about 5-7 before quitting.

    So in theory you will get more production out of your hens quicker and they will be spent sooner. That's the theory, I am unsure if any actual studies have been done.

    I personally like longevity out of my hens and I use no lights. I upped the protein in my ration last season and I had hens molt quickly and resumed laying sooner, some started up in December as opposed to February. So diet can also influence laying as well.

    Managing lights can be tricky and any disruption can throw them all off. So your goals as Bobbi-j mentioned are what should help you make the decision.
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Thanks for chiming in Oldhen. It's good to get different perspectives of flock management as we all have our different ways of doing it.
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    It's a nice hobby that can be persuaded in all ways and manners. That's part of the appeal of it I think, and it never gets boring. Mine are neither pets or food, they just are. Some age well, others need help in the exit part which isn't put off if necessary. I admire anyone who can do as you do, and to honor the animal as it should be.
     
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    It took a long time to get there. I never used to want to process "the pretty ones" - just the "ugly white ones" so we'd buy our batch of Cornish X every year, and at the time, I thought we were eating "Good chicken!". (I grew up on the store-bought stuff, so it really was an improvement). Then we decided to process some Freedom Rangers. They have more texture and flavor than the Cornish X. One year my sister in law got a lead on a bunch of old hens from a commercial egg producer. We bought and butchered 100 of them. They were leghorns, so there wasn't a lot of meat, but we salvaged the meat and canned it. I have been hooked on canned chicken ever since. I would almost rather have a pantry full of that than a freezer full of whole or quartered chickens. It's an ever-changing hobby for me. Now I'm hoping to get a self-sustaining flock for eggs and fairly decent sized meat birds.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
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  9. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    This part is true.

    Fact is, that number is in the thousands.

    Many more than a hen will lay in her lifetime regardless of lights.

    A hen will likely stop laying due to issues long before she runs out of eggs.

    This is an often debated topic, clouded by opinions.

    My personal opinion, I use lights.

    I seem to have happy, healthy, chickens, some now in their ninth year.
     
    2 people like this.
  10. FunOnABun

    FunOnABun Out Of The Brooder

    Are any of them still laying? I have four girls (two that are a little over a year and two chicks) and plan to keep them throughout their whole life (but don't use supplemental lighting) and am always interested in finding out if other people's older girls are still producing; even at a much reduced rate.
     

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