Suplimental lighting for production in the darker months

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Peepthis541, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. Peepthis541

    Peepthis541 Chillin' With My Peeps

    125
    1
    121
    Oct 25, 2008
    Eugene, OR
    I've been reading through a few threads here and see there are some differences in preference to heat a coop or leave it be in the winter.
    Aside from heating, I am curious if anyone puts light in their coop during the fall/winter months to encourage laying. If so, how much more light do you supplement, or how much darkness do you give them?

    Also, I wouldn't mind hearing from anyone with strong feelings to the contrary, as in not supplementing light so to not stress the birds and allow them a more natural laying cycle (if that even exists with a domesticated captive animal).

    Thanks!
     
  2. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    12,147
    107
    311
    Jun 11, 2007
    Quote:I guess I think of my birds as pets and not there just to feed me. So whenever they want to lay is fine with me, and it's less hassle to let nature take it's course. That's my casual approach...
     
  3. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

    498
    1
    131
    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    You'll find people here on both sides of the fence. There are thiose that seem to feel that the birds actually are "stressed" by increasing the light to about 12 hours a day and then there are those like me waiting to see documentation and not anecdotal evidence that it is true.

    I add enough light to keep the chicken's day around 12 hours long. This approximates the natural day length that a chicken living at the equator would be experiencing year round.

    I haven't seen any documentation yet that demonstrates that a chicken here in Western Maine requires a long vacation from laying while one in Equador doesn't or that northern birds will have damaged reproductive systems (as some will claim) if a reasonable amount of artificial light is provided while their sisters at the Equator can enjoy a natural 12 hour day all year.

    ( [​IMG] I'm picturing chicken farmers in Equador covering their coops with giant dish towels at 5pm in the dead of winter as if the layers were giant parakeets in Grandma's parlor. )

    Wayne
     
  4. Peepthis541

    Peepthis541 Chillin' With My Peeps

    125
    1
    121
    Oct 25, 2008
    Eugene, OR
    Hi Wayne,
    You present a good point of view based on regionality. One could argue, if one liked to, and I do, that perhaps its not the decrease in light, but the decrease in warmth that causes the hens to put more resources into staying warm, and less into producing eggs. Therefore, by providing light, which would stimulate the hens to lay on an instinctual level, you might be robbing them of critical energy they would need to protect themselves from the colder weather. Sure, they might not die, but their overall health might take a toll. And they might be downright ticked off at you! But they'll never talk... just cluck.
    [​IMG]
    Seriously, it seems like even though there are many commonalities in chicken care, there are a lot of variables with respect to each ones individual situation, like housing setup, number of chickens, feed, and location among other things.

    Thanks for your input.
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    127
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I'm one of those with a strong opinion about it.
    You can add light and have a hen that lays in the wintertime when she naturally would not. However, that hen is going to "run out" of eggs at an earlier point in her lifetime. They do not have an endless number of eggs to produce.
    My chickens are pets first and foremost. I prefer less eggs over a longer period of time than the alternative.
     
  6. Bugdude

    Bugdude Out Of The Brooder

    49
    0
    32
    Sep 9, 2008
    Is it better to add the light to the morining hours or the evening hours?
     
  7. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    127
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:If you are going to add it do so in the morning hours.
    You don't want the light suddenly going out on them at night and leave them unable to see to find their roosts.
     
  8. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    My birds are mostly for production, however I don't give them light and they still lay in the winter. I'm not about to drag electricity 200 feet to the coop :p
     
  9. jmeeter88

    jmeeter88 Chillin' With My Peeps

    192
    3
    121
    Aug 18, 2008
    New Hartford, NY
    I have no knowledge or opinion regarding the stress issue, but I am not going to put a light in my chicken's coop merely because I want their lifestyle (and laying schedule) to be as natural as possible.
     
  10. chickymama25

    chickymama25 Out Of The Brooder

    52
    0
    29
    Jun 27, 2008
    I am just trying the lights right now...it is entertaining to see the sour look on the beef cows face's when the girls are basking in the glow of warmth and light inside their snug shed. Plus, they have been getting the food scraps the cows used to solely get. I unknowingly have created some jealous issues...
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by