COUNTY AG NEWS
The leaves are starting to change color, and soon those leaves will begin to fall. As a poultry owner, one of the things that you don’t want to fall is your egg production.
Many of us in rural areas are keeping chickens or other poultry these days. The excitement of different breeds and feather colors often draws folks in to raising birds in the spring. Those birds are reaching maturity as we enter the fall, giving new owners reinvigorated excitement over raising birds: the first egg.
The amount of light a bird receives is important to the egg laying process. Light stimulates the production of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in the bird, a hormone necessary in the bird for growth of follicles on the ovary which will eventually produce the yolk of the egg.
Light hits the eye of the bird and that signal is passed along to an endocrine organ in the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus then talks to the pituitary gland (also located in the brain). The pituitary gland will then release FSH which travels to the bloodstream and migrates to the ovary. This process then initiates development of the follicles which will produce estrogen. Estrogen released from follicles stimulates development of the oviduct of the bird, and eventually allows the yolk to pass through, leading to egg formation further down the reproductive tract.
One of the challenges of egg production going into fall and winter for mature birds is the decreasing daylength. Eleven to 12 hours is the bare minimum amount of light needed to stimulate production of FSH necessary for egg production; however, this amount of light, or the lesser amounts in December and January, are not enough for continued high egg production rates.