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Thursday
Nov262015

Extend Omelet Season With Supplemental Coop Lighting

Since you started your backyard flock, you’ve become fresh egg loving maniac. You eat at least one omelet a day, and think cholesterol is just another liberal conspiracy against the egg. You have a bumper sticker that reads, “ my chickens are smarter than your honor student.”  You haven’t paid for eggs in months, and you’re not about to start now just because it’s sweater season again. But how do you maintain egg production during the dark winter months? Supplemental lighting is the answer, and lucky for you, it’s easier than making huevos rancheros.

Begin augmenting daylight with supplemental coop lighting when the day length has decreased to about 15 hours, which is usually around September for most parts of the US. Maintain the supplemental lighting program throughout the winter until the day length has returned to 15 hours, and you can keep the eggnog flowing all winter long.

One 60 Watt bulb is sufficient to light as much as 200 square feet of coop space, and incandescent fixtures may not win any awards for energy efficiency,  but adjusting the wattage is as easy as switching out the bulb, and produce the warm wavelength light spectrum that stimulates a hen’s reproductive cycle.

While it may seem more convenient to leave the supplemental light on all the time, there’s no benefit to egg production beyond 18 hours of light, and it’s wasteful. Use a timer to add time in the morning and afternoon to achieve about 15 hours per day, giving your flock about eight hours of darkness every night to sleep and rest their immune systems.

Is your coop not wired for electricity? Solar and battery powered supplemental lighting kits are easy to install, but timers can sap the battery in these types of systems, and you may have to manually switch the light on and off.

Center the light above the living area in the coop – above feeders, but away from the nesting area which should remain dark. Placing a reflector behind the bulb increases light output, and remember that cobwebs and dust will diminish light intensity, and should be removed in weekly cleanings.

 

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