New Community Chickens Post: Cue the Sun (or a Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb)

New Community Chickens Post: Cue the Sun (or a Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb)

Read my latest post on the Community Chickens  forum from the publishers of Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine:

Cue the Sun (or a Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb)

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  1. While I no longer live on the farm, I have enjoyed reading about your experiences.It really brings back memories. Once year I raised 400 chickens for eating.I must tell you adding a little cracked corn to their feed will give you a fatter chicken,and more yellow yolks. My girls just loved it. And It vastly improves the flavor of their meat. This we’ve found, and is encouraged for all livestock.Corn really helps the flavor. Makes everything tastier!I grew up on an Iowa farm, with a Dad who was a Master Iowa Farmer, and who died beside his girls, just outside the chicken house. He would add additional corn to his regular feed. And, he had very Happy Chickens (Girls-Laying Hens)!So give it a try. Give them their regular amount of Puriena, and add 1 cup of ground corn on top of it. If you can’t get ground corn, try a little corn meal. If you are still giving them cooked oatmeal, add 1/2 cup corn meal to it to start, and then weekly add a little more until you have a cup. You will have the happiest hens around.

    1. Author

      Thank you for the suggestion. Sounds like your father was a knowledgeable farmer and also instilled a love of farming in you. As far as I am concerned, that is an accomplishment worth applauding!

  2. If you have any other questions, don’t be afraid to ask. I have alot of knowledge, I would love to share. I even worked on a Dairy goat farm one summer as a nanny, and had to milk goats. So I have goat, chicken, and garden experience.Lots of it!!!I am nearly 60 now, but would love to share my knowledge if you need it.

    1. Author

      Thank you. I’ll take any suggestions and information from someone who has practical experience. We are milking our first dairy doe right now who is a first freshener. It’s quite a daily game of chess! Thanks again. I look forward to hearing more from you!

  3. I was reading your article about the eggs & water freezing. Instead of using a fluorescent bulb get a regular bulb about 75 watts. Use one of the heat reflectors and put it down by the waterer (on the side where the water comes out) this will help keep the water from freezing quite so fast. I haven’t solved the frozen egg problem, because when you have the lights on all of the time the laying schedule gets off and they will lay in the middle of the night when its the coldest. I am glad to hear that you give your chickens warm oatmeal. I thought I was the only one out there doing that. I just feel better giving them a warm meal when it is so cold.

    1. Author

      Thank you for the idea. Yes, our hens get bowls of warm oatmeal with bananas and yogurt every morning during the winter. I always felt crazy doing so until my daughter and I went to listen to an organic chicken farmer who swore that he got higher egg counts in the winter when he fed his hens warm oatmeal. Either way, I also feel better giving them a warm treat on a cold New England morning.

  4. You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. I will recommend this site!

  5. Hey, About the light and laying eggs. It is not a good idea to leave a light on in the coop. It will cause pecking and fighting. I have also heard that it makes your girls finish their egg laying cycle way too early. I have ten hens and one rooster. I have only one electric plug in my coop. I use a thermo cube with two outlets. I have one radiant heater and one electric dog dish for the water. I put the dish up on blocks so that it is the right height for the chickens to drink, without them kicking bedding or poo into the dish. By using the thermo cube plugged into the main plug, the heater nor the waterer will come on unless the temperature gets below 35 degrees. To increase egg production in the winter months, I feed my girls black oil sunflower seeds. (This is the best way to increase egg production) I scatter them in with the scratch and layer feed, and don’t feed my chickens from a feeded in the winter months. (That’s how they get too fat). By scattering them in the straw in their run, It takes them longer to eat and gives them exercise and keeps them from getting bored. They also get spinach, swiss chard and Kale. I get organic greens at the grocery store, and once a week they get a good scattering of them. On very cold mornings, when the temp drops to just above zero or below, I give them a big bowl of cooked oatmeal with plain yogurt in it instead of milk. I have been doing this for two winters now, and my girls are over two years old. I get 5-6 eggs a day in the winter, and 8-10 eggs a day in the warmer months, and my chickens all get along with each other in my small 4 x 6 coop with a bottom run. My girls and happy and healthy. I also give them treats now and then of dried meal worms. The black oil sunflower seeds are great, because the girls quit laying in October, when they molt, and I start the sunflowers shortly after they are finished molting. The sunflowers promote healthy feather growth as well as egg production, So by the time it gets extremely cold out, they have all their fluffy new feathers back, and they start laying again, and continue throughout the winter. I don’t have any lights on in or near the coop, and in fact, I don’t even keep my porch light on. It is pitch black in and near the coop. So they have no choice but to sleep. lI think this is why they are so full of energy and happy chickens. They even go out and play in the snow on a nice day when it isn’t so cold and windy. Hope this information helps a little.

    1. Author


      Thank you for sharing your experience. I would love to supplement our hens’ (and goat’s) diet with black oil sunflower seeds, but they are incredibly difficult for me to source. I have yet to find a manufacturer who does not also process peanuts. As my son has a peanut allergy, bringing them to our farm would mean that he would no longer be able to feed the chickens or spend time in the chicken coop. He takes great pride in his farm work, so until I can find a safe brand, I’ll just have to find other methods to encourage our hens to continue laying.

      I also feed warm oatmeal with yogurt or raw goat’s milk to our hens during the winter. They love it. In fact, they dined on oatmeal with shredded butternut squash and organic kefir this morning. They were quite happy!

  6. Dad always kept his girls penned in the morning, this was when they laid their eggs. Then he would let them out after lunch,to do a little free ranging. They would come back to the chicken house for bedtime.Once in a while we would find an egg outside, but it was more unusual than usual. You could put your light on a plug in timer, and have it go off at your bed-time. You might try a radio in the chicken house, too,it makes them less flighty. They hear the human voice on it, and are not as alarmed by your voice when you come to visit. If you want more eggs, perhaps you could let one of your hens brood, if you have a rooster. She will raise a few more chickens for you, and you’ll be able to have a few more eggs after awhile. Plus Mr. Rooster can be eaten if you don’t want any more chicks.

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