Many who have purchased our chicken coops call with questions. So, we've narrowed down a few of the most frequently asked questions and provided some simple answers on this page. If you don't find the answer to your question here, please feel free to contact us on our contact page.
You might be surprised to know that it is not the cold weather that causes hens to quit laying in the winter months; rather, it's the reduced amount of sunlight. It's mother nature's way of telling hens that if they hatch these eggs, the chicks are not likely to survive.
So, the solution is simple: supplement the amount of light they get. To lay at maximum efficiency, hens need 8 hours of dark and 16 hours of light. It is important to allow them a natural sunset each evening. But, you can wake them up as soon as 8 hours have passed.
Our timers turn on the lights in the hen houses automatically. 8 hours after the sun sets the lights come on and the hens start laying. It's morning!
The kind of light you use is VITAL!
This was a costly mistake for us at Rooster Hill Farms. Feeling the need to be responsible for the environment, we replaced all of the incandescent light bulbs in our hen houses with conpact florescent bulbs. Our egg production plummeted! We were down to less than 40%!
The culprit was those energy efficient compact florescent bulbs! Here's why: light has wavelength. Light from the sun has long wavelengths on the orange/red end of the spectrum. Incandescent bulbs also have long wavelengths. However, compact florescent bulbs have short wavelengths on the white/blue end of the spectrum.
As a result, the compact florescent bulbs were more like moonlight than sunlight and the hens went into their winter laying routine.
After putting the incandescent bulbs back in the hen houses, egg production soared. Within six weeks we were back to our regular winter production rate of 85%.
Research shows that in order to maximize egg production your hen house need to be lit to .5 - 1.1 lcf (lumens per cubic foot). Less than that mimicks moonlight and more than that is too bright. So, how on earth do you figure our how many lumens per cubic foot you need?
Here's a simple rule of thumb. Start with a 40 watt bulb. If you can read newsprint at the roost level, you're light is bright enough. If you cannot, try a 60 watt bulb. If that's not enough, try a 75 watt and so on.
This is a GREAT question. Let me be very clear with this topic. The government requires you to refrigerate your eggs. It is not a matter of health...it is simply a matter of law. Therefore, I MUST tell you that you MUST refrigerate your eggs! It's the law.
Now, with that said, let me tell you what happens in other countries. The USA is the ONLY country in the world that requires its citizens to refrigerate eggs. And there's a good reason for that! Pharmaceutical companies pour millions of dollars into campaigns for politicians to get elected. In turn elected officials "reward" the pharmaceutical companies with legislation that helps them sell more drugs.
Let me explain: When a hen lays an egg, her goal is to hatch that egg (ours is to eat that egg). Since she can lay only one egg each day, it takes her 10-14 days to lay a "clutch" of eggs. When her clutch is full, she settles down on the eggs and heats them up to 101 degrees. Inside that egg is an enzyme named "trypsin," which causes the egg to begin to develop when the hen heats it to 101 degrees. If the temperature falls below 50 degrees the trypsin dies...this is mother nature's way to telling the hen not to hatch the eggs because it's too cold for the chicks to survive.
Trypsin also lowers cholesterol. (Something the pharmaceutical company would rather do by selling you drugs!) Pharmaceutical companies know that your refrigerator will kill the trypsin in the eggs. So, the favor they got from the newly elected politicians was legislation that requires us to refrigerate our eggs.
A second enzyme tha your refrigerator kills (at the command of the department of public health) is Lanamine. Lanamine is responsible for healthy joints. But, if your eggs are meeting your body's demand for lanamine, then the pharmaceutical companies wouldn't be able to package and sell their drugs...and politicians wouldn't have campaign money to spend. So...refrigerate! Lets keep those politicians politicing!
I recently learned of two other enzymes in eggs that die when refrigerated, but I've not been able to run down the benefits from those enzymes. But, I bet the pharmaceutical companies know! I think I'll ask them.
If you pick up your eggs direclty from the henhouse, you DO NOT need to wash them. We use a damp sponge tp knock off any dirt on them and then put them on the kitchen counter.
Why? When the hen lays an egg she puts an antiboitc coating on the egg. This protects the egg from things like salmonella from getting into the egg. However, if you wash off the antibiotic coating, you wash away the protection.
It's interesting to note that the government also requires egg distributors to wash the eggs before they sell them. Isn't that interesting?
If you have questions that you would like to see answered on this page, please contact me.