By Herman Beck-Chenoweth
Alternate title: Pullet Surprise
Pullet Lighting, Program Necessary For Winter Egg Production
It may be hard to remember in the heat of a
summer day, but it won't be long 'till Old Man Winter
returns. And, with the return of winter's icy blast
your customers or your family will be demanding farm fresh eggs.
Can you meet the need?
A good program of pullet development will
ensure your success. Going into winter with a house
full of freshly started pullets is the best way to bring
those dollars to your farm.
We brought our breeder flock together in late
May and started gathering fertile hatching eggs
around the second week of June. By July 4th we
were hatching eggs in our Sportsman incubator.
These birds will be ready to begin laying in mid to
late November just as the first cold weather sets in.
But, they won't start laying until and unless we
increase the day length to fourteen hours.
We keep our pullets in a holding pattern until
the hens slack off on production. This usually
happens about the first week of February at our farm.
By then, we have the pullets ready to go: Way back
on December 1st we began increasing the day length to 14
hours by adding an one-half hour of artificial light every second
morning. We use 60 watt bulbs (or 13 watt compact florescent bulbs), ten
feet apart, hung eight feet above the floor. This gives
us 1 footcandle of light when read with a photograph‑
ic light meter. The lights are turned on and off with a
simple timer available at any hardware store.
Each week we add three and a half hour more light,
turning the lights off at dusk and on before dawn. By
mid‑January the pullets are starting to lay their small
"training eggs", and by February 1st are adding
significantly to our daily egg take. We continue to in‑
crease the day length until we have lights on from
2:30 a.m. till 6:30 p.m. Then we move the pullets to
our hen house to join the main flock.
We offer our "pullet eggs" for sale priced at
$2.00 per 18 eggs and generally sell out easily. If we
have too many eggs, we cull out the poorest produc‑
ing hens, process them as stewing hens and offer
them for sale at $1.79 per pound. We never have
enough to satisfy customer demand!
Copyright 2012 Herman Beck-Chenoweth