Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Lights On, Getting Ready For Action!
Three Weeks Till Breeding!!
This is a big day in the aviary! Although cocks have been getting the weekly 24 hour vitamin E in the water treatment the last three weeks, today the hens began receiving the weekly vitamin E treatment in their water, just like the cocks. The difference is that the cocks continue the weekly treatment till breeding season is over, even if they show signs of molting on their wing butts. Even the start of the molt is not a problem for fertility, if they are getting their weekly vitamin E treatment, they are still fertile! Hens on the other hand receive the weekly treatment till they lay their first egg. It can be given to hens between nest but this is generally not needed as they lay again readily without the vitamin E treatment. If you overdose hens on vitamin E, they will not sit on the eggs and just want to keep laying. It is not a problem if the hen actually lays the day you gave her the vitamin E treatment.
A side note: make sure you are getting the vitamin E dissolved in the water. To help dissolve it, I start with warm tap water and add the vitamin E, shake vigorously till dissolved, and then fill up the jug with cool tap water.
Today I also turned my aviary lights up! The cocks are especially sensitive to increase light and I expect rapid acceleration in their breeding condition as a result!! The challenge is how to set the longer aviary hours so that it will fit my schedule and not interfer with my family.
As some of you know, I work 2nd shift and do not get home till 11:30 pm or later. On occasion, a problem case or trauma will mean I stay overtime but usually I can be in bed asleep by midnight. I am firmly committed to feeding hens with chicks when the light comes on but I need six hours sleep each night and my family has a sit down full breakfast every day around 7 am.
To meet these perimeters, I set the aviary lights to come on at 5:30 am (central time zone) and to go off at 7:30 pm with the dimmer comes on at 7 pm and going off at 8:45 pm. With daylight savings time changing March 8 th, that will be called 6:30 am, so I have a 30 minute window before I go in the aviary each morning. I should be able to feed those hens with chicks within 30 minutes so I can be ready for family breakfast at 7 am. I know you are thinking, what in the world is she fixing for breakfast? Here the secret of this operation, I am really fortunate to have a husband who is a gourmet chef! He will have a full breakfast ready and all I need to do is brew a pot of PG Tips hot tea and pour it in our three cups!! Just how good can it get??
A dimmer light is also critical to the operation, as it gives the hens adequate notice that lights are going out soon and they need to get last minute feeding done or get back on the nest for night. The dimmer light pictured is 5 feet high and the shade measures 38 inches long. It has a 10 Watt, energy-efficient fluorescent helical bulb. The design is especially effective as it emits light well to cages whether they are on the top or bottom layer of cages even though my aviary is larger than a double car garage. The dimmer light was an inexpensive purchase made last Spring from Target. It does not even have a brand printed on it but it is priceless to me!