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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 9:06 am 
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Champion Bird
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Location: Northern NSW(yowie country)
I have been using lights for a few years now in my breeder pens of large sussex to try and get early chickens.I always make sure that they have moulted and are in good physical condition before I do this though.I prefer to use lights in the morning as I don't like the lights to go off and the chooks are left in the dark to find their perches etc.I have mine set to come on at 3:30 to 4am and they switch off at 6:30 by which time it is daylight.This gives them around 12 hours of light and I find that is enough to get them back on the lay :thumbs:

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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 10:45 am 
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Wise Wyandotte
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Yes a boost in protein in their diet will help too. It also helps to have chickens that are pathological egg layers like Isa Browns or white Leghorns. Some of these will lay right through a moult etc.

Pre-dawn daylength extn is kinder because the birds can wake up then and start moving about and eating. Whereas if the lights go off suddenly at night then they have not been through their settling routine. Happy contented chickens are more likely to come back on the lay.

If you want to get all technical, you need a light intensity of about 5 to 10 microeinsteins per metre squared for birds to perceive sufficient light. Now that bit of technical advice did no one any good because almost no one has a light meter! Measuring light intensity is a pain too because there is not a linear conversion between kinds of measures, thus you can not convert lux into micro-E without knowing the specific wavelength.

What you need for chickens is just enough light for someone with normal vision to read the small print on a newspaper. This is more light than you get from a full moon on clear night but its not much more! Hence a couple of compact flouro bulbs should be enough. However I think the solar garden lights are probably not enough.

The chookpen in question, is it somewhere near mains power? If so then I'd be running an extn cord out there strung through the trees. Or I'd move the chickens closer for a few weeks.


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 11:06 am 
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Denis wrote:
Get a timer and set a 60W bulb to turn on at 5:00pm and turn off at 9:00pm.
You don't have to simulate daylight, just enough to keep them awake. Feeding some dried cat food helps a bit too until they start up.

Thanks Denis. I'm trying to get some chicks out early enough for April shows 2011. That could work. I have a timer that I can hook up to a few globes. The evening option is much kinder on the human residents. I don't think 2.00am crowing would help me win over the neighbours. They are good, but there's no point looking for a problem.

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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 1:30 pm 
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Fiesty Fowl
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I think it is best to start lighting early, don't wait until the end of summer to turn them on. There is a show breeder that posted, he leave's his lights on until 10pm every night so he has good plumage for the Sydney Royal.

Daza


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 4:06 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Daza wrote:
Hi Giz, what are you feeding them?

2mounths is a long time. Check to see if they are getting enough water, this is the biggest problem with layers. Some times you can have a chook that will guard the food and water. So all the other will shut down to save themself's.

I would check for lice and mites aswell. If you free range your birds they can be laying somewhere else.

Reduce fat and increase protein(cat food fish) every other day. :thumbs:

Daza


Hi

They currently get 5kg of Red Hen layer (15% protein, 5% fat) (that should be about 140g per bird) per day + food scraps so I hope thats enough food. I was using Xtra Egg (15% pro, 2% fat), but the local store has stopped supplying, they only have the layer now. The hens have never really laid that well on other brands.

They have a constant water supply in the pen, nothing fancy, a tap drips into a container at a rate to ensure its always full.

They were treated for lice/mites about a month ago and the laying boxes had new bedding put in.

They only free range on weekends at the moment as i've not finished building fox proof fences (lost half the flock just beofre xmas when they ranged daily) and we dont get home till after dark. Current enclosed run area is 11m x 7m. free range area is just over 1 acre.

Coming into winter, they always seem to go off for ages.

If there's anything breed specific, I have: ISA brown, RIR, light and Coronation sussex, australorp, leghorn, silver dorkings and gold lace wyandottes. I had hopped that by diversifying I'd eliminate this sort of thing, but they must have formed a union or something :(

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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 4:38 pm 
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Fiesty Fowl
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Yeh maybe they are after a pay rise.
I don't know red hen but 5% fat is high.
Your Isa's should be laying about 300+ egg per year so i would say you may have a pest problem.
Have you wormed them?
Lice and fleas can put them off laying. If you walk in the coop with your shoes off you will feel them.
Or you may have a snake full of eggs.
The pen is big enough...

I still think it is food related(worms)

Daza


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 4:46 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Daza wrote:
Yeh maybe they are after a pay rise.
I don't know red hen but 5% fat is high.
Your Isa's should be laying about 300+ egg per year so i would say you may have a pest problem.
Have you wormed them?
Lice and fleas can put them off laying. If you walk in the coop with your shoes off you will feel them.
Or you may have a snake full of eggs.
The pen is big enough...

I still think it is food related(worms)

Daza


I use Avamectin (drops on the back of the neck) which is a 'mectin' like ivamectin which I believe should take care of everything, so it shouldn't be worms. When they are laying we get around 28 eggs/day (in spring).

coop is sprayed every few months with Coopex insecticide.

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3 real horses, 4 mini horses, 5 sheep, 2 cats, 3 dogs, 11 light sussex, 5 Australorps, 4 Rhode Is Reds and 15 Isa Browns


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