Preventing August-born pullets from maturing early?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GoChick, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. GoChick

    GoChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 6 pullets born in mid-August.

    I was reading "Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens" and it mentions "Pullets hatched from August through March need controlled lighting to delay maturity"
    I then went online and found this article http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/htmpubs/2227.htm
    Summarizing
    , it says to :

    "...Let’s assume that you hatched chicks on October 1, 2008. Consult an almanac, or the U.S. Naval Observatory Web site1 to determine how much natural daylight there will be 22 weeks from the date of hatch—in this case, on March 4, 2009. The day length in Bangor, Maine is approximately 11 hours and 20 minutes for March 4, when the birds will be 22 weeks old. Add 5 1/2 hours to that figure,* for a total of 16 hours and 50 minutes in this case, and provide this amount of light daily for the chicks’ first week. Then reduce the total light period by 15 minutes each week through the growing period. The artificial light period must overlap both ends of the natural light period so the bird does not realize that the days are actually increasing during the latter part of the growing period. By the time the pullets reach 22 weeks of age, you will have gradually decreased the period of artificial light to 11 hours and 20 minutes, which will now equal natural day length. The pullets will be finished with the artificial light and on a natural day length that is increasing. At that time, add 30 minutes each week until 16 hours of daily light is reached. Hold this light constant for as long as you keep the birds..."

    I already created a huge spreadsheet calculating the times I need to set a light to, but I wonder if anybody else has done this to their "off-season" pullets?

    thanks!!!
     
  2. Cindiloohoo

    Cindiloohoo Quiet as a Church Mouse

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    Mine just do what they do. I don't try to tweak it, and they are fine. This looks like overthinking things to me. Complications where there should be none....
     
  3. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    Oh good heavens. No. [​IMG]
     
  4. GoChick

    GoChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine just do what they do. I don't try to tweak it, and they are fine. This looks like overthinking things to me. Complications where there should be none....

    That was exactly my reaction at first, but then i read the pullets could have complications from maturing early and also that their eggs would always be smaller than pullets born from March through August... so, did you have pullets born between August and February raised in natural light and whose eggs were the same size as the ones born "in season"? and no complications for the pullets?

    thanks​
     
  5. Momo

    Momo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've had September and October chicks, some raised in a brooder and some by a broody, I don't mess with the light and I haven't had any problems at all. The real thrust of the article is to suggest that laying before 17 or 18 weeks is not desirable, but my fall babies lay later than my spring ones, at more like 25 weeks. They start laying well into spring when the weather is warmer and the days longer. I haven't noticed any difference in the size of the resulting hens or their eggs. I think their maturity is naturally delayed by the colder weather and shorter days.
     
  6. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Agree. The last thing you need to worry about in off-season pullets is early maturity. It is unlikely to happen.
     
  7. GoChick

    GoChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all the comments! I'll just let Nature run it's course!!
     
  8. Victoria-nola

    Victoria-nola Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I came here with this exact same inquiry. I'm glad to hear it's thought this is not anything to be concerned about.

    Are there other aspects of the Damerow/Storey's Guide that are in accurate or ignorable?
     
  9. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If you have a business and the onset of lay is essential economically, September hatched pullets, of the commercial variety, need to be brought on line in January. The manipulation of the light is used. It is actually used to delay early onset, and then used to encourage full point of lay.

    Last year, I brooded day old commercial production reds, hatched in early September and sure enough, they began to lay in mid January. This was/is the result of their innate genetics. Most flock keepers actually do not desire, forced, early onset of laying. Most would prefer the birds finish their bodily growth, bone up and bulk up, to their fullest potential before taking on the stress of egg laying. It seems to improve their health over their life time.
     
  10. Victoria-nola

    Victoria-nola Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So Fred, are you agreeing that if I simply allow them to experience natural light that they will NOT have early onset of laying? I'm nervous, definitely want them to be strong and sound of body and mind.

    I had been thinking I might add light-timer a couple of hours each day over the winter, but if my understanding is correct, I should wait until next year (2012-2013) to do so, and in any case it turns out that's supposed to start in September or something so probably too late this year.

    I'm also interested in any arguments against adding light over the winter, since mostly what I've found is encouragement to do so.
     

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