When to stop using lights

It’s March 29, and I thought I’d mention that the traditional period for using supplemental light to keep the hens laying is September 1 through March 31. By April 1, the increasing day length makes supplemental light unnecessary.

Farmers traditionally set the day length at 14 hours when using supplemental light. The days aren’t that long on April 1, when measured from sunrise to sunset, but it doesn’t take much light to stimulate laying, so that seems to even things out.

The big boys use a different algorithm: keep the day length constant at whatever it happens to be on Midsummer’s Day at their latitude, meaning that there’s just one night a year when the lights don’t come on at all. Those of us with fewer than a thousant hens probably can’t measure the difference, and the convenience of not messing with lights until September carries some weight.

We started using LED light bulbs this winter and were very pleased with them. We like them a lot better than compact fluorescents, which are fragile and tend not to light properly in cold weather. We found outdoor-rated bulbs at Home Depot for reasonable prices. Incandescent bulbs, being a nineteenth-century technology, are simple and reliable under farm conditions, but consume about eight times as much electricity as LED bulbs, and also last only a tiny fraction as long (in theory; we don’t know how long the LED bulbs will last in practice yet).

Anyway, since our henhouses are scattered all over the pasture, it’s just about time for us to wind up all those extension cords and bring them inside.

It must be spring!

I Publish Books! Norton Creek Press

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

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