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winter laying and lights

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by foxhunter66, Feb 10, 2016.

  1. foxhunter66

    foxhunter66 New Egg

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    Oct 25, 2015
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    Ok, so this has been my first winter with chickens. I currently have 14 layers. The flock consists of 5 production reds, 3 delawares, 2 barred rocks, 2 rhode island reds, and 2 black stars. I know laying decreases in winter time for multiple factors such as weather, molting, and length of days. So having done a little reading on the subject of adding artificial light.... I added a light to the inside of my coop, hooked it up to a timer, the light cuts on at 3am and off at 8am giving them a total of 14+ hours of light a day where I live. Everything I've read says that should be right in line to help them produce more in the winter months. My problem lies here.... I have a Delaware rooster and have a section devoted to him and the 3 delaware hens I have in attempts of breeding and hatching some chicks. The light doesn't appear to be helping the laying situation. The rooster is doing his job, but I'm not getting many eggs from my delawares in order to collect to hatch. In a 10 day stretch, I might get 4 eggs from them and don't want to go a whole incubation cycle for 4 fertilized eggs. Any solution to my problem or wait til the weather warms and see if that helps them pick up the pace... or are there any other tricks to try, or something I may be missing out on?
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    I am personally not a fan of extra lighting, I think other things like what type of feed and weather play more into production, and the extra light can mess up things like molting. I don't use light and some of my hens have been laying for a few months already, some are starting and the rest should get going by March.

    The increase in daylight as well as the intensity of the rays will trigger hormones to fire up. Give it a few weeks and I think you see them begin to lay. Also you need to figure in the breed and it's purpose, Delewares are considered dual purpose, they were the meat bird of choice for many years before Cornish so they aren't considered an egg laying breed and will not lay as well as other breeds like leghorns.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    How old are your Delawares? When did you add the lights? Are your other birds laying better?

    I have kind of the same situation. I have a flock of older (4 years this spring) Marans ladies I'm wanting to incubate later this month. The previous owner used lights all their winters (I just bought them last fall). I've never used lights in the winter but for a few different reasons started this year. They're not laying enough to collect to incubate, either. I'm thinking it's their age, but really not sure. Everyone else has started churning out eggs at a good rate.
     
  4. foxhunter66

    foxhunter66 New Egg

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    Oct 25, 2015
    Rustburg
    donrae,
    my delawares are not quite 1 year yet. they were rockin and rolling all summer, fall, and into winter. the group as a whole has averaged 5-7 eggs a day, even as of today. but with previous set up, i had no way of knowing which girls were laying. in current set up, i have delawares set aside and know exactly which eggs are theirs and for first time able to know what they're doing. i've always caught them in the nest box in old set up, but never really been able to say they're laying x-number of eggs. light was added about 3 weeks ago
     
  5. CalgaryFarmer

    CalgaryFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Is the light above them? Do they remain on the roost? I think the light has to hit them on the forehead above the eyes. If it is under them it may not work. We added lighting for the winter and it works great. Won't go back. See the link in my signature.
     
  6. foxhunter66

    foxhunter66 New Egg

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    Oct 25, 2015
    Rustburg
    CalgaryFarmer,
    I do have the light hooked up above the roost. Interesting, as I assumed most people would hang light above primarily for fire prevention, but I never heard it needed to be above eyes/forehead. And I have no clue if they're stayin on roost early in the morning when the light first comes on, I can't let go of a warm comfy bed that early. But when I'm up to let them out before work (7ish) they're all off roost by then, but pre light they were off roost by then too, so....
     
  7. MoonShadows

    MoonShadows The Jam Man

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    Our first two years with chickens, we didn't use light. But this year we were without eggs for 6 weeks while they all completed their molt. That coincided with the shorter days. We were "hungry" for fresh eggs, so we put up a couple of hundred mini Christmas lights, and the eggs have been coming ever since...with a little slow down after that huge nor'easter we had a few weeks ago. They were confined to the coop and a small portion of their run for almost two weeks. They are just getting out to free range again now as all the snow has melted.

    foxhunter...have their been any other environmental changes other than the shorter days? I mentioned my slow down after the storm. I find even little changes can affect egg production.
     
  8. foxhunter66

    foxhunter66 New Egg

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    Oct 25, 2015
    Rustburg
    MoonShadows,
    Starting Jan 1 of this year I've been trackin number of eggs laid daily. And much to my surprise, that same week of the nor'easter yielded my best numbers. I was shocked and surprised as the harsh cold (first drastic cold they've experienced, as well as first snow they've seen too) didn't stress them and cause a shortage like I thought it would have.
    No new flock members, no changes to their coop or run ( other than the addition of the light) weather has been fairly consistent with exception of nor'easter which obviously didn't negatively affect them. I don't know, maybe they're not morning people and are on strike to the 3am wake-up calls
     
  9. CalgaryFarmer

    CalgaryFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hey FoxHunter, it just really stumped me as to why you where not seeing results. Yah, you do not want the lights down low.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
  10. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If the move to the new section stressed them it could have disrupted their laying. Having lost access to their regular nest boxes might have been enough to stress them. They are very much creatures of habit. Also, is your rooster gentle with his ladies? Now that he only has three to focus his attentions on he might be overmating them. That can be stressful on the girls too.
     
    1 person likes this.

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