The downward trend in production seems to have settled at 3 to 4 eggs per day from the ten hens that are laying. I’ve read that putting a light in the coop that switches on in the early morning hours improves egg count. Seems the hens have to have a certain number of hours of light to stimulate their hormones that regulate their egg production.
So November 1st I installed a timer and light in the hen house. I set it to come on around 4 am and a week later set it to 3:30 am. So November 2nd was the first day the light came on early.
A couple days before, there was an opossum attack on the smaller chickens in the brooder. The opossum killed 4 of the chicks, and injured another. The remaining chicks were justifiably nervous. As I had planned on integrating them with the laying hens on the 2nd, when they were 9 weeks old, I went ahead and moved them a couple days early.
Needless to say, even though they had been in close proximity and at least familiar with each other, the older hens – 34 weeks at that point – were not happy about the new residents.
No idea if the new addition to the coop had much impact so far as the egg production went, but it appears not to have had an impact.
Two weeks following the addition of the early morning light, on the 16th a sudden jump to 7 eggs and the next day 9 eggs. The additional hours of light did the trick. My research suggested that infact it takes a few weeks of exposure to the longer hours of light for the hormones to catch up. Seems to be the case for us.
Also, we had reservations about artificially changing the hours of light, where the hens would naturally slow down production during the shorter daylight months. However, we did note that there are many hens that live in the equatorial regions of the world and lay consistently all year long, and we could not find any evidence that the artificially longer days has any impact on the chickens.
The blue egg count for the month was 23.
Looks like the light trick worked.