thoughts on pulling the plug on day light, giving hens a break?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by calamarie, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. calamarie

    calamarie In the Brooder

    Mar 15, 2015
    Been at battle with the flock for over all health and egg production. I live in Idaho, and winter is hitting, I have 17 laying hens that are about 18mo, a few maybe a little older, and two roos. Last year was their first winter and we did not heat the coop just provided (if I remember right) about 14hrs of lighting inside the coop, and they produced very well through the winter, had a slight drop at the end of winter but went right back up.

    Our egg production has considerably dropped this year and we are down to 4 eggs and for a first time ever 0 in a day..... I have read countless threads and articles on why egg production drops etc. so I know it's one of those things you just can not really pin point 100%, but here is what I have discovered and done so far-- expanded the coop for more space to help with some of the hens being picked on, started feeding flock raiser with a higher protein, I am going to worm the flock because it's come up countless times with different issues I have had, I see some signs and since they aren't really laying its not a big loss to toss eggs....A handful of them do have poultry lice which I have treated the coop and am now going to be spraying all the birds with Prymethrin. I also am considering ditching the day light that I give them because it's not making a difference anyway, and I have limited ability to get water heaters, lights etc. to all my outside animals. I am wondering if I will really screw things up if I just stop cold turkey with the daylight?? A handful are molting, and really taking their time in getting the new feathers and the temps are dropping. One in particular is still bald on her back and butt....If I ditch the lights will this give my flock a chance to rest, finish their molt and maybe get a little healthier or do I need to ease into it??

    Lastly, when I ordered this batch I gave 5 chicks to my mom and hers all are absolutely beautiful and plump and just finished their molt but she said they all quit laying...seemed odd that we are both having the same issue from the same batch of chicks...

  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    It sounds like 1.5 year old hens taking a normal break in their laying cycle to molt and restoke their bodily resources. I'd pull the lights and give them a chance to rest. Many add some new younger birds on a yearly basis to assure winter production.
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    If the nutrition and ventilation are optimal and there are no other stressors, at the age of your birds, it is VERY easy to pinpoint the problem 100%.
    The issue is day length. Or more accurately, the difference in day length vis a vis length of darkness every day. We are 16 days from the winter solstice. One should expect birds not in their first autumn/winter of laying to take a break now.
    You can add all the light you want, but birds that have been molting cannot lay eggs until they have completely regrown their winter coat, which is 93% protein. They can't grow one of those and kick out a huge lump of protein every day.

    The lice adds an additional stressor.

    Since your original question was pulling the plug on light, I would do so until you know they've completed their feather regrowth. This is a good time to increase crude protein with a complete complement of essential amino acids.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    You don't need to treat the coop for lice, they live on the birds only.
    Some wormers can cause problems when used during molt.

  5. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You've received top-of-the-line responses. I can only add that what you are seeing may be due to the aging factor. As layers age, their egg production can drastically fall off, especially during winter. New layers can lay right through winter, so it can trick you into thinking they will lay like that their second and third winters, too.

    I see no problem just yanking the light. Your instinct that they can use a rest is a good one. Dust them with some permethrin powder and they should be done with the lice problem. They will be much more comfortable for it.

    I like to recommend Elector PSP for parasite control since it's highly effective while still permitting you to eat any eggs the hens produce.
  6. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    The solstice is only a few more weeks away, and then the days will start to lengthen naturally. The reason you didn't have production issues last year is because they were all young pullets. This year, you have adult, molting birds. They can't molt and lay. And once they finish molting, they need to get their weight back up. Once they are back into laying condition, and the days are long enough, they will start laying again. Until then, have patience.
  7. Hi.
    I agree with everyone here, pull the light. [​IMG]

    Also, you might consider using the permethrin spray. It's easy to use and works well.

  8. calamarie

    calamarie In the Brooder

    Mar 15, 2015
    Ooo good to know on the wormer....I have Wayzine liquid but it doesn't say anything about egg layers. Really it just has a withdraw period for meat birds and says not intended for hens who's eggs will be its a bit contradicting cause a lot of people swear its the safe rout and to follow the withdraw period on the bottle but it has no withdraw instructions for layers.... do you have wormers you have tried? I need something i can put in their water or feed i really don't want to catch all 19 and try and worm them individually. yes on spraying the coop for lice i just had it stripped and wasnt able to really see if i had a mite problem so figured id just spray it anyway. :)
  9. calamarie

    calamarie In the Brooder

    Mar 15, 2015
    Being that its so cold and below freezing I am definitely going to get the prymethrin powder instead of the spray, I really don't think my hens would enjoy a wet spray and freezing temps haha.

    Elector PSP is a pesticide spray for control of mites, lice and other pesticides on animals and premises, which i have heard is very safe but its spendy....I am a little confused about the egg withdraw you are referring to??

  10. OIC, the temps being the reason you are going with powder verses spray. That makes sense!

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