Light the Night

Flock Friday

It can be a hard, cruel world out there and egg production can suffer because of it. The girls aren’t getting along, the house is messy or the food is sporadic—all this can contribute to a stressed, unhappy flock. Yes, that’s right! If things aren’t just right at home, the girls won’t make breakfast. So, here are some things to look for if your hens’ egg production is down.

  • Hen pecked? Hens not getting along? There will always be a pecking order going on, but sometimes hens will be relentless in tormenting the newest hen. This stress can prevent them laying eggs. Here’s a link that may help to solve that problem.
  • An unkept house? If the laying boxes are dirty the hens will avoid them. Keeping them clean with bedding material such as wood shavings or straw will make them inviting. And the hens, well they may be willing to come and sit a spell…at least long enough to lay an egg.
  • No food in the feeder? Running out of food or having a sporadic food supply will also affect the egg production. Keeping an eye on the feeder and making sure the hens have a plentiful supply of feed will ensure the eggs will keep coming.
  • Not enough daylight hours? As the days get shorter, naturally the hens will stop laying eggs…and so now, the reason for today’s post.

In my first year of raising chickens, my hens had just started laying eggs in the fall. Wrangler Man told me they will stop laying in the winter. What?! Yes, I found out it’s actually a natural process for hens to taper off egg production as the days get shorter in the fall. So, he gave me a tip to keep the hens laying all winter long. Add lights.

Hens need 12-14 hours of sunlight to keep producing eggs. So, lights are added in their chicken coop in the fall to keep the egg production going all yearlong. So, last fall I put lights in my hen house to give the girls the artificial sunlight they needed to keep up their production of eggs.

To get lights in the hen house, I just purchased solar landscape lights from the local hardware store…nothing fancy (but then nothing about me is really fancy). I stuck the light on a push in plastic fence pole that I purchased at the same store. Here is what it looks like…

IMG_1232

The light should be shining on the feeder and where the hens roost. Now I have an open coop which makes lighting the coop very simple. Others who have a closed coop will need something a little more complex…like electricity or solar power added to the coop.

Here is a short video showing how an electrical light was brought into a coop.

If you can’t get electricity to the coop, then here is a video showing how lights were added with a small solar power system.

I also found a warning on not using Teflon lights in the coop.

As with any research, you will find different schools of thought. So here are the cons to providing a light through the winter.

  • Decreases the egg laying years of a hen (not its life, just the years of it laying eggs)
  • Just plan unnatural
  • No resting period for the hens
  • Loss of calcium production for strong eggshells

In my opinion, feed is expensive and when you don’t get any kind of production from consumption of feed, it is just too costly. You can compensate for any calcium loss by adding a supplement of oyster shells to the chickens’ feed. All the other reasons…I’ll rationalize by saying, “That’s just life on the farm.”

What do you think? Questions or comments, please leave below.

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