Questions about adding light, newbi here

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by wild eyed willy, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. wild eyed willy

    wild eyed willy Out Of The Brooder

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    I have been told to add several hours of additional light to the coop to promote egg production. My question is: is it better to add extra hours early in the morning say around 3:00am or in the evenning from 6 - 10pm?

    Any help would be great.
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    It is better to add it in the early morning, say around 5-6 AM on a timer set to go off when it is normally light. That way they can go to roost when they can see well enough to get there in the evening. They only need about 12 hours of light--mine are laying great with that amount.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    It really does not matter that much. You'll find many people successfully doing it both ways. Some of that depends on your set-up and your management techniques. One school of thought on this forum is that if you add it at night and the light suddenly goes off, some may be trapped off the roosts and can't see to get up so they add it in the morning. Lots of people add it at night or split morning and night and don't have that problem. I'd suspect there is something in the individual set-up where they have that problem.

    You don't need a lot of light. If you can read a newspaper in there, it is enough.

    What you are shooting for is about 14 hours of light each day, with no big swings. If they get a reduced amount of light it can trigger a molt, which means stopping production while they grow new feathers. The 14 hours is what commercial operations use, but they factor in other things too for maximum efficiency, such as feed to egg conversion rate and the way they feed them. The main thing is to not have the big swings in reduction. Since we are all different distances from the equator, I'll let you decide what system gives you the 14 hours.

    I don't use additional light but prefer to give them the downtime to refresh their their bodies and grow new feathers. I find that many pullets will skip the molt and lay throughout their first winter anyway. I always have some pullets in my flock, so I don't find it necessary to provide additional light to keep getting eggs for my use. Different set-ups and different management techniques.
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    What Ridgerunner said. Last year I added early morning light because my hens were older; this year I have several pullets so expect I'll get enough eggs without adding light, so will let them rest. I live in the country and it's pitch dark at my coop unless there is moonlight, so I wouldn't add evening light here. I used a 40W bulb in a good sized coop, which was plenty.
     
  5. wild eyed willy

    wild eyed willy Out Of The Brooder

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    RidgeRunner,
    My chickens are aprox 5 months old, Does that make them pullets?

    since I have not had any extra light to this point, will they get confused if I just turn a light on all of the sudden?
     
  6. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    Over the years, I've added it just in the morning, just in the evening and split between the morning and the evening. It didn't seem to matter to the chickens. In the end, I just did it in a way that made it easiest for me to do the chores.

    When you work away from home, unless the coop is lighted, at some point in the winter you end up doing chores in the dark. It's dark when you leave for work and dark when you get home. Going to the coop to get eggs and check on them when they're already roosting at night was disturbing to them, too. So, I started having the light on in the evenings, so they wouldn't be disturbed by activity in the coop when I got home after work.

    Even when the coop light is on, it's not bright in my coop. The chickens can also see that it's dark outside. They eat and drink at night, look out the windows and maybe wander around a bit, then go up to roost. They usually go to roost well before the light goes out. I've watched them on the coop cam.
     
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I do chores at 6 am, so I need the light to see. Thus, I add in the pre-dawn hours. I like that they are up and eating and drinking, which may be to beneficial to egg production.

    I find that by 5 pm the birds are heading to the roost anyhow and calling it a day.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, those are pullets. Depending on breed, they may be laying or just getting ready to start. Or they might need another month.

    I don't know where you are or how many hours of daylight they are getting now. It is possible they will start laying and keep laying throughout the winter this year, but next year they will molt without extra light. If you are getting very little daylight, it is possible they will wait until the days start getting longer to start laying, but maybe not. I really don't know. Each chicken is an individual. Three of my four pullets started laying early October, so they were getting less than 12 hours of light a day. One still has not started. Then I have a couple that will come of laying age early December, when the days are shortest. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    One thing you might consider if they have not started laying and you are getting a fair amount of darkness. If you increase the amount of light, either in increments spread over a week or all of a sudden, probably does not matter which, they will probably start laying. That's how commercial egg laying operations do it. Keep them in short hours of light each day then go to the longer periods of light when they are old enough to lay decent sized eggs. But if your power goes off and they are suddenly in extra darkness, that could trigger a molt.

    With my dual purpose mutt chickens, if they were not laying and I decided to give them extra light to getthem started, I'd probably wait until they are around 23 to 24 weeks old. In the summer, more than half are usually laying by then, so it is a pretty good age to start. But that is my flock, not necessarily yours.
     
  9. wild eyed willy

    wild eyed willy Out Of The Brooder

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    wow a coop cam, thats really cool.. I would expect to find my girls sitting around playing poker, drinking beer, cussing and scratching in places one shouldn't itch in public... Think I'll let the coop cam idea alone.

    If the purple gang ever found out I had them wired, it might be curtains for me... Better to leave well enough alone.
     
  10. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    I think Ridgerunner covered everything. [​IMG]

    Also, if you have a rooster - your neighbor's might not be too happy with 3AM crowing.
     

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