Sunday, January 15, 2012
Sunshine and Reproductive Time!!!! WOOT WOOT!
CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK!
As some of you already know, our chickens cranked out 14 eggs the other day! We are so proud of our girls considering it's been in the 20's and it's half-way through January. I know some chicken keepers whose hens have completely stopped laying. Our ladies here on the Shawhan farm don't get a winter break, and some people may actually think this is a cruel practice to make hens lay when they "naturally" wouldn't be. (BLAH, BLAH, BLAH... no greenies here!)
There are some out there in the animal kingdom whose reproductive systems are linked to the sun. Horses for example won't cycle during winter months due to limited natural light. MANY breeders will use artificial light to keep their mares cycling during winter months with the hopes to get them bred and therefore foaling as close to the universal equine birth date of Jan. 1. (Since the gestation length of the horse is 11 months.) Well chickens are very similar in that they need light to keep producing eggs during the dark depressing months of winter.
A chicken has a pituitary gland inside the eye which produces a hormone that is carried to the ovaries. (Which we all know is where those yummy eggs come from.) The hormone is stimulated by sunlight and carried to the ovaries by the bloodstream. It's simple to continue with light exposure during winter months by simply using a light in the coop. At least that is how we do it. Our chickies' light is usually turned on between 3 and 4 o'clock in the afternoon. It stays on until between 7 and 10 o'clock at night. It's normally around 9:30 or 10 since that is when I go back outside to put Jimmy and Charlie back out. (See my horses DO serve a purpose!) The nights the horses stay in is when the light is turned off at 7. For the past few days the main doors on the barn have been shut, so the light in the coop is on all day. If no light is provided, chickens will go into a molt and stop laying altogether.
Our egg numbers fall into a pattern. There is usually a peak, say 14 like the other day, then it falls off for awhile. Yesterday we only found 7, yet today we had 12. On average we get 10 eggs a day. Currently there are 3 dozen eggs in my fridge, so they are up for grabs for whoever wants to come and get them!!
Check out poultrykeeper.com for more info.
P.S. I realize I need to do some cleaning in the coop. Please don't stare at all the cobwebs by the light!
Daniels, Tim. "Light For Laying Chickens." Poultrykeeper.com (2012) 4 Nov. 2008. 15 Jan. 2012 http://poultrykeeper.com/chickens/general-chickens/light-for-layers.html