Adding A Bit More Light…….

Picture 406Our laying flock consists of about 30 chickens. This year we added some new layers, and now those younger birds are in full egg laying production. We like to keep our hens laying through the winter if we can. Quite frankly, if we are spending the money to feed layers, we want them to lay eggs. There are two separate chicken coops here that house about 15 birds each. Both coops are equipped with lighting that is set on a timer. This lighting provides ‘artificial daylight’ which enables the chickens to keep up with their egg producing during the winter months. A chickens ability to lay eggs is stimulated by its endocrine system, specifically the glands and organs that produce hormones. As daylight hours dwindle, changes in these hormones affect their egg production. In other words, without their needed 14 hours of light, their egg production lessens. Adding additional light  triggers the endocrine system into action, resulting in winter egg production. We’ve also been lucky with the mild winter so far, and the chickens have had the extended benefit of foraging for vegetation outside their chicken run. The ground has yet to freeze here in Maine, and the chickens are enjoying this added opportunity for grazing. This free range, soil scratching activity also helps to provide them with a well balanced and highly nutritious diet. During the summer when they are scratching around for greens and bugs, their egg yolks are quite dark. We do notice that the color of the egg yolks pale a bit when it is bitterly cold and when the landscape is frozen and snow covered. Chickens are happiest when they get plenty of sunlight and have the opportunity to scratch around their natural habitat. We appreciate watching them parade around the nursery and farm……strutting about, intent on finding some tasty little morsel. We also appreciate their contribution to our own diet….fresh , delicious eggs!