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#9057 - 09/25/02 03:54 AM Re: Winter lighting for pullets
Big Boy Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 845
Loc: Kansas
I have an anecdote about something that happened just last week. The Golden Polish pen was having a drop in egg production to where it was down from 13 or so eggs per day to 3 eggs per day. They seemed alright and were being fed and watered in a timely fashion (I have my children do the morning chores, so those of you who have children doing the same will know what I mean). So I checked it out and couldn't see any problem with the light, it was plugged in and seemed to be working. Hmph! Well I got up at 4AM to get ready to go to work and decided to check and found out that the light was off in that pen. I went to check it out and the cord was gone! I went back to trace out the cord and found it plugged into the aerator in an aquarium inside the children's playhouse. The older boys had got some crayfish to use on their trot-line and plugged it in during the night for the crawdads and then plugged it back into the lights during morning chores. They reasoned that the lights were just like night-lites and there were enough on that these chickens didn't need it so why not use it for the crayfish. This is when I explained about lights, eggs, and Dad. They understand now. You think that surely they would know, but unless we're taught (and sometimes shown) how would we know? A lot of things are caught rather than taught but sometimes they simply HAVE to be taught.

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#9058 - 09/25/02 04:03 AM Re: Winter lighting for pullets
Susie Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1902
Loc: Arkansas
JJoanne,

I don't know if this is practical for you but you might try leaving the light on at dusk and then going out to check after dark. If they are settled, turn the light off. But stand there for a moment and listen. Birds that are used to light sometimes get a bit upset in the dark the first few times.

I do this and sort of "wean" the young ones off of light. After several days, you can try leaving the light off and see if they'll put themselves up in the coop. I usually find most of them will but I might have a stray or two for a couple of days.

The rule about cutting off the lights at dark is all about making sure they got up to roost okay and aren't fumbling around in the dark getting hurt. You can do that "manually", as I have many times, once you see that they are settled in for the night.

Susie

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#9059 - 09/25/02 05:44 AM Re: Winter lighting for pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


I did have a question about adding lighting. My girls are not quite laying age, so I am not adding any extra light now (and I wont until spring). They are free ranged. They come inside and roost according to the outside light. Could I add light at night or will the outside light, or lack of light, do me in? I have heard some people successfully add light at night. Are these birds that are kept in all the time?

I got to thinking about this when I left a light on the other night. The girls all went to their roosts and went to sleep at about 8:00pm even though the inside light was still on. My older girls go in to roost about an hour or two before it gets dark. They are in there sleeping when it is still very bright out. confused confused
Shari

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#9060 - 09/25/02 06:21 AM Re: Winter lighting for pullets
Big Boy Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 845
Loc: Kansas
Shari, the principle reasons for additional lighting are for egg production and possibly for predator control. If you want more eggs during the winter then using a timer set to turn on at, say, 3AM and off at 8AM will give you the photoperiod (including standard care) needed to keep your hens at maximum lay. I think that the hens are 'used up' sooner as far as lifetime egg production is concerned (and this is only by casual observation - I haven't read anything lately that would verify that) when placed on a 24/7/365 lighting program but longevity-wise I don't think that it makes much difference.

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#9061 - 09/25/02 08:05 AM Re: Winter lighting for pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


BigBoy, Thanks for responding. I understand why lighting is used, and that there is some validity to the point that hens are 'used up' faster if kept laying year round. (Why I wont add extra light until spring.)
My real question was about when to add lighting. Since my birds free range, is it possible to trick them into staying up late? smile or must I wake them earlier?

Is there anyone that has free range birds that has also used evening light? Can it be done? How did you do it?

Shari

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#9062 - 09/25/02 08:38 AM Re: Winter lighting for pullets
Susie Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 1902
Loc: Arkansas
Shari,

I'm not 100% sure what it is you are wanting to know. My birds are not confined or kept indoors and I light my coop. Most will come in and start eating at dusk. They get pretty settled in about an hour later and most are sleeping, in spite of the light. As the days start to grow shorter quickly (like they are right now) I will sometimes have a few stragglers that are still outside where the light from the coop is shining out through the window or door. If I goof and leave the backdoor spotlight on, I will find about 10 chickens outside a good hour or more after sunset.

I do think my birds are active later, and definitely eating later in the day, because of how I have things set up. I don't necessarily think that is bad. The night wanderers do stay very close to the coop and they follow me in when I go out to close things up for the night.

Susie

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#9063 - 09/25/02 09:21 AM Re: Winter lighting for pullets
Anonymous
Unregistered


I need some advice on the lighting of my barn for my chickens. Right now I still have a 250 watt infrared bulb in the barn which I leave on from about 7 pm till 8 am. Is this sufficient light for them to find their roosts? I also turn on my 75 watt bulb for an extra 2 hours at night (need a special controller for it to be turned on and off in the morning). This will keep them at a steady 14 hours of white light. Will it freak them out if I change to turning the light on in the morning? They are almost 8 weeks old, so it will be January before the magic 20 week mark. If I want them to start laying in January, should I increase the light to about 17 hours and then reduce it by 15 minutes each week til I reach about 14 hours then increase it to about 15 hours? Since I haven't been able to find a timer for our unique setup (yet anyway) I don't want my hens to start laying before they are old enough and if I must I can wait till spring for eggs, but my book told me absolutely don't decrease the amount of daylight or they will start laying to young. Does this mean I should keep it at 14 hours a day till spring? I am really confused and hope you can help me figure this out.

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#9064 - 09/25/02 10:00 AM Re: Winter lighting for pullets
J. Henderson Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 674
Loc: New York
We use lights for our hens. However, mostly to make it easier for ourselves, we don't touch the dial on the timer. It is set to come on at six am, stay on for about two hours, then come on at 5pm and go off at 8 pm. The brand we use (and the only one I could find locally) seemed to be too sensative, and when I used to make many adjustments, the timer stopped working well or at all. As a result during the summer the light goes on and off while there is still daylight, and now that the autumn equinox has been reached the light stays on after it's dark outside. The chickens seem to know the routine well enough, and they come inside the house when it is getting dark everywhere else, and they are almost always all roosting before lights out.

I can see shifting the artificial dawn to as early as 5 am, but with a very loud rooster, I don't want him thinking that his day starts at 3am.

I have heard arguments that artificial lights shortens the egg producing life, but I haven't seen it documented. I also think that the breed probably makes more of a difference (but I haven't seen that documented either). Of our old birds (6+ years), our Rhode Island Red is still laying, but our Brahma stopped long ago, and the Golden Comet stopped earlier this year. All lived under the same lighting conditions.

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