To use lights or not to use lights?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by daze333, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. daze333

    daze333 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2008
    Port Angeles, WA
    Hi all,
    I have had chickens for several years and I am trying to have a more natural approach with raising them. My question is about using lights to get your hens to produce more eggs.

    I have done it in the past with a timer and good success. But I surely wonder if the hens don't need this rest. But living in the Pacific Northwest it is often dark overcast which I am sure doesn't help the need for light. Should I give the hens a month or two break, then start using a light?

    I have about 80 chickens and several are in molt, but I am getting only about 1 doz per day now. I would really like to see some of your opinions on this issue.
  2. justbugged

    justbugged Head of the Night Crew for WA State

    Jan 27, 2009
    I am using a light in the mornings on my girls. This is a hot topic here on BYC. The question seems to split the group down the middle. I haven't seen a problem using the lights. They will molt and they get a break from laying then. This may be a silly way of thinking about it but humans never get a break from creating eggs in their systems because of the amount of light in the day, and it doesn't seem to hurt us any. With as dark as it has been around here I think that it won't hurt to have some extra light.

    But that said it really is a personal choice.
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    humans never get a break from creating eggs in their systems because of the amount of light in the day, and it doesn't seem to hurt us any. With as dark as it has been around here I think that it won't hurt to have some extra light.

    Speak for yourself! [​IMG] Ever have PMS?

    If our eggs were as proportionate to our body as a chicken's and took extra calcium and nutrition to produce, don't you think you would like a slow down? Its sort of equivalent to having a baby every day but without the labor pains.

    It really is a matter of preference but, if you are looking for a more natural cycle for your chickens in your area, it might be a good thing to just let nature happen. Animals have wonderful adaptive abilities and I just assume this is my chicken's way of adapting to what their bodies need in the winter months. Would I trick my own body into producing or ovulating when it had slowed or stopped naturally? Nah.

    Manipulation of a bird's hormonal cycle by providing false lighting is strictly for our purposes, not the bird's.​
  4. StupidBird

    StupidBird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    How big a difference do you think there is between the daylight patterns of the jungle chickens evolved in to the ever dark Pacific NW area? Apparently it also has quite the effect on human activity - I've never seen quite so many coffee house drive throughs as I have there! Every corner has at least one, and every mile even in the middle of nowhere! I think its ok in such a situation, nothing to guilt over.

    Edited to add: if I lived in the Pacific NW, I myself would have to do artificial lighting! Season affective disorder...
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2010
  5. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    I'm on the "14 hrs of daylight" side. If the birds' body are in need of a break they will moult otherwise, as said above, they evolved from equatorial birds that were used to a steady, year around light supply and to allow them only 8 hrs or less of light will cut into what would be normal eating and exercise activity. I think the "need for a winter rest" idea is an attempt to humanize one's chickens. I've roused mine at 6 am and shut the lights off at around 9pm for 20+ years with no problem.
  6. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    I decrease the light to 10-12 hours over the cold season, to give them a bit of a break, while also getting eggs and allowing them some time to live- being in the dark doesn't mean they're sleeping, and I would worry about boredom.

    I have a light come on in the morning, early, and they get a bit after dark, too.

    It's not bright, though. Just enough. I don't like seasonal depression...I bet they don't either.
  7. RoRoinGA

    RoRoinGA Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 17, 2010
    NE GA
    I also use a light in the chicken house. On at 5:30, off at 9:30. Thats plenty of time for rest and I found that even with the light on, they get up on their roost at about dusk. I also would have to have artificial light in the winter, its sooo depressing.
  8. daze333

    daze333 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 26, 2008
    Port Angeles, WA
    Thank you so much for all of your opinions and ideas! [​IMG] I really like the middle ground of giving them some light but not the full 16 hours! I think that is what I will do too.

    Stupid bird-I love your thinking about the light deficiency and the coffee houses! I never thought of it that way! We do love our coffee! [​IMG]

    If there are more opinions out there I would love to hear them too!
  9. Fanny's Mom

    Fanny's Mom Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 2, 2008
    Okay, be upset with me, but my chickens have 24 hrs of light! And the reason is not for eggs. It seems that if it's dark, somehow the possums get into the coop and I lose one. It's happened twice. The run is 50 X 9 with chain link walls and roof, dug into the ground 6". All my chicken owning friends have surveyed the area and we just can't figure out how the darn possums get in. All I know is if there's a light in the coop, the possums want nothing to do with it, so my girls will just have to put up with a light in the coop. Actually, they don't seem to mind, although I understand it does shorten their lives.

    I also have a motion sensor spotlight on the outside of the coop, but I never see it come on. I suppose I could close the coop door every night, but sometimes I'm not home until late; sometimes I'm away for the weekend; sometimes I just don't want to deal with the mosquitoes. I rationalize this "cruelty" with the fact that in all other aspects they're spoiled rotten.
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Quote:I'd be the last person anyone would accuse of humanizing chickens. [​IMG]

    If chickens have "evolved" from equatorial birds, then it would stand to reason they have evolved away from the need for additional lighting to have "normal" eating and exercise activity. Isn't this the whole reason for evolving? To develop adaptations that allow them to function and achieve homeostasis in an environment that is not of their origin? The reasoning has holes.

    People who live in areas that have winter seasons rest also, as do many of the animals that live in those zones. It is a normal cycle to adapt to winter lighting, temps and food supplies. If your chickens live in that zone as well, it only stands to reason that they would also naturally go into a more energy efficient mode of life.

    No one says that lighting them up is bad for you say, you've done it for 20 years and nothing has resulted from it. My family have been doing it our way for far longer than a mere 20+ years and we've had no adverse affects with our methods one is saying one is wrong or right or accusing anyone of dehumanizing or humanizing chickens because one chooses to light or not. The OP asked for opinions and we gave them~each with its own merits.

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