Thursday, December 11, 2014
Seasonal light cycle, effects on chickens, rabbits, and work.
Here's a little piece on it. Essentially, chickens need 15 hours of light a day to lay, and we are getting somewhere around 10 hours of light a day at this point given our location. The official dawn today was 07:10, and dusk will be at 16:18. Living where we do dawn comes a bit later, and dusk a bit earlier which I guess puts us closer to 9 hours a day of light. We could supplement light the way we supplement our gardens through the use of a light bulb in the coop, but we have decided given the cost/benefit analysis that we are just going to not run a crazy long extension cord through the snow to get eggs during the winter, and just accept fewer eggs for now. When it would just be a couple hours a day if we need eggs we may start putting on lighting for the chickens.
This is also something that has a strong effect on the rabbits, somewhat unsurprisingly. I haven't been able to find a good scientific paper that's more recent than 1934 (Here for your reference) about the effects of lighting on rabbits and pregnancy. From our experience though, and the experience of most others, rabbits aren't as willing to breed and are less likely to produce when there is less than 12 hours of light per day. We don't breed during the winter anyhow for health reasons for our does, and for survival rates and growth rates in the kits. But if we had a bad year as we did, and didn't have a reserve of meat we would want to be breeding, and it would be much more difficult to successfully do during this dark time of year than it is normally. Fortunately not a problem for us at this point, but definitely something worth noting.