The supplemental light debate

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CountryGirl1120, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. CountryGirl1120

    CountryGirl1120 Out Of The Brooder

    So I know there are a lot of people out there that add light during the winter months and then there are those that dont. I personally am one of the ones that does add the light because in the end for me my chickens are my food. When my hens stop laying they will be butchered humanely and then used to help feed my family. So I give my birds the lighting in the winter to make sure I dont run out of eggs especially during baking season. Plus having a family of 7 and occasionally an extra person or two to feed means we go through eggs. But in the end they are not treated as factory farm birds like the birds that produce the eggs in the grocery store. So do I feel bad knowing I am giving my chickens a good life? No I do not.

    So I want to know everyone's reasons for either using or not using light in the winter.

    If you are going to comment there is no reason for nasty comments towards someone who may or may not agree with what you are saying. Everyone has their own opinions and while they may not be similar we should respect everyone's choice in the matter.
     
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  2. gator75

    gator75 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My mom does, I won't. I prefer them to go through their cycles naturally. Plus, hoping this gets me another laying season out of my birds as I don't want to have to keep turning the flock over every two years. I only have three hens so all three will be changed at once. I certainly don't have any disrespect for those who use supplemental light at all. I'd probably do it if I had access to a larger flock of different ages birds.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I can have anywhere from 2 to 8 different flocks of chickens and I don't usually treat them the same regarding lighting.
    My purposes are as much about breeding and hatching eggs as for production for eating eggs.
    I do take lighting into consideration in regard to production. When most of the birds in a flock are molting, I don't add light till they've recovered.
    I usually don't rush pullets to lay but sometimes if I have a flock of pullets that are late to start in autumn, I'll add light for them.
    I've even gone so far as limiting day length in early summer to force molt hens to improve eggs for hatching later in the summer.
    When I do add light, it usually isn't till around December.
     
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  4. CountryGirl1120

    CountryGirl1120 Out Of The Brooder

    I have to be honest I added new birds this year as my older gals where two years old and 3 of the 5 I have left still give me 3 to 4 eggs a week a piece. And they hit the 2 year mark in June of this year. So not sure if they will go another whole year at that rate but so far it is saving them from the pot this year.
    I never thought about how one would do it if they had the chickens for breeding purposes. Thank you for your input and explaining that. It is all very interesting. How do you limit the length of day in the summer?


    The whole reason I wanted to start this was because someone earlier made it sound like I was "squeezing" the eggs out of my hens by adding the light. They view their chickens as pets, I view mine as livestock. But because they didnt share my opinion and didnt like my opinion they tried to make it seem like I was as bad as the companies that have battery cage hens for production which isnt true in most cases.
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    First of all, I don't think you're a bad person. Mine are livestock too but I care for them like pets. If someone lived near the Equator, their day length would be the same year round. Is that person bad for keeping chickens?
    Secondly, a hen is born with way more eggs than she can lay in a lifetime. They do need an annual rest but that usually coincides with molt.

    I put 90% shade cloth over windows and let them out later in the day. The shade cloth still breeds but limits the light reaching the pineal gland.

    Just my opinion but I think 2 and 3 year old birds are far from finished. I just had a 7 year old hen get killed by a mink but she was still a reliable layer.
    They do take a longer break each fall/winter but once days start lengthening after the winter's solstice most will start up again like gangbusters if they are healthy.
    One has to determine if they want to replace their flock each cycle or let them molt, rest and resume.
    Since I'm raising an extremely rare breed, if they are still producing good chicks and are fairly productive, I don't put an age limit on hens.
     
  6. CountryGirl1120

    CountryGirl1120 Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you. I care for mine like pets also, they get more scraps then the dogs! But at the same time I need the eggs especially in winter months and I dont want to feed them and have to buy store eggs (which are gross). I never knew that about the Equator. Shows how much I paid attention in school. That's very interesting with the shade cloth. I will have to keep that in mind should I ever start breeding. Maybe one day. I would definitely say that birds from a breeder at over 3 years probably could be far from finished, I'm not so sure about hatchery stock. I have a SLW and a EE that have not given me an egg since March or so this year, they are not molting and as far as I know everyone is healthy. But the other 2 EEs that still lay I got from the same batch so I'm not entirely sure on that either but I would think since breeder quality is usually a superior stock their egg laying years would be longer.

    The other reason I had to get more this year is because I had a predator problem for a while. I had 4 chickens picked off in 2 months alone so for me getting the girls this year made sense. I needed more eggs. Between what I was selling to friends before and what I was using I didnt have enough. And well chicken math creeped up and ducks started too.

    What breeds do you do?
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I had hens for about 20 years and never used lights. I liked the natural cycle of lay, molt, rest, repeat. I still feel it's an ideal to try to follow, giving the birds is a good idea.

    That said, I did start using lights last winter. I bought some young hens in the early fall who quit laying when I moved them. They were young yet and should have been productive through the winter, so I gave them a boost. I also purchased a flock of mature BCM hens (3 years old) who had been under lights each winter with the previous owner. I became more breeding oriented, as Canoe says, not just egg production for eating. Wanting to hatch more, I needed more eggs.....so hence the lights.

    I'm still trying to decide about using lights this winter. I have a lot of first year pullets who don't need it, but I do have some mature hens who would need lights if I want to hatch from them. Decisions, decisions.....[​IMG]
     
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I've had over 30 breeds. The hen that was killed this summer was an Ameraucana from a 2009 hatch. She was my last bird that wasn't a Black Penedesenca. That's the only breed I raise any more.

    Mink killed over $3,000 of my chickens a few years ago.
     
  9. CountryGirl1120

    CountryGirl1120 Out Of The Brooder

    So you have actually done both. Interesting. Not that I'm against giving the birds a natural cycle just for me and my purposes even though its not breeding it doesnt really fit. I hope your decision comes easily for you as the days go on. Good luck!
    Oh wow! Im so sorry for your loss. That is a lot. I'm not quite sure what was getting my chickens this year since I only ever found one body that was slightly eaten. The other 3 just up and disappeared. I had to predator proof a run for them because of that and I got a puppy to pick up the predator slack that our older dog could no longer keep control of. He's going blind and deaf and just isn't what he used to be unfortunately. I had to look up the breed you raise. Theyre gorgeous! I have thought about hatching and breeding especially since now I have a pair of Ancona ducks. Was thinking about getting into breeding with them so I could have some more. I have to say though the idea of incubating and hatching eggs kind of scares me.
     
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    One thing I didn't make very clear is how much I think flexibility is key to keeping a flock.

    5 years ago, what was right for me was one large coop and run. No lighting. I aged many of my layers out at the 18 month mark for increased production, that also kept me from needing to use light cause I always had fresh birds. Chickens were a hobby and I really didn't worry about the financial aspect.

    Now, what's right for me is several coops/breeding pens, and some will be lit this winter for hatching purposes. I've also kept over more hens for breeding or broodiness, so I have more older ladies in the mix than before. I'm being a little more conscious of financial managemnt an am trying to get more bang for my buck so to speak.

    In 5 more years, who knows? I may be running a small hatchery, I may be down to half a dozen layers simply for our personal use.

    What I'm trying to say is, be flexible. Lighting was not right for me before, now it is. May or may not be in the future.

    Just be safe when you do it. I shorted out our barn this spring with my lights for the coop [​IMG]
     
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