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    Raising Chickens In Winter Requires Proper Lighting

    The use of supplemental lighting to maximize egg production in laying hens has been a common practice for years. For maximum egg production, the photoperiod, the period of time each day during which your chicken is exposed to daylight, should be 14 to 16 hours. Lighting can be from a combination of sunlight and artificial sources and should be continuous. Lighting should not be decreased for hens during the laying cycle because this can decrease egg production and induce molt. Conversely, the photoperiod should not be increased for growing pullets because this can hasten egg production and result in undersized eggs.

    Light intensity should also be considered. As a general guideline, a 40-watt bulb with a reflector located seven feet above the floor will provide adequate light for an area of 200 square feet. Multiple lights should be used to assure even distribution throughout the building. Incandescent lights are generally best. Also, assure that light fixtures are properly installed and maintained to avoid a fire hazard.

    Benefits of Supplemental Lighting

    The benefits of proper lighting have also been documented in dairy cattle and pigs. A photoperiod of 16 to 18 hours will result in increased milk production in lactating cows, and an increase in reproduction in pigs. Many factors contribute to seasonal infertility; photoperiod is one of them.

    Manipulation of lighting is an effective management tool that can be used to enhance reproduction and maximize performance. However, proper nutrition is still a critical piece of the puzzle. An animal that is not properly nourished will not perform well, even if everything else is perfect.