I plan to use the electricity from a car battery to encourage the chickens to lay eggs. It is not through some gruesome electroshock therapy, but with light. They are tied to light and the tide of the seasons. I plan to trick them.
Last year the eggs stopped coming around this time of year and did not begin to return until the end of January. This year, out of ten hens only the two youngest have continued to lay. Even now they are slowing down to an egg only every few days. It’s amazing that they are so domesticated that they do this at all. Under the pressures and margins of commercial farming, a chicken has been bred that can lay an egg every twenty five hours nearly all year. The wild birds must look on with shock at this ability. Although the wild birds have limited energy, having to forage far and wide at the whims of the seasons. The chickens get everything given to them. The chickens might argue that everything is taken away.
We live in darkness. Around midwinter the day will be only seven hours long, and most of that is usually dull and grey. This is where the elecktrickery comes in…. A car batter, a timer, and six hundred lumens of LED light might fool them into spring. Light controls their cycles, needing only nine or ten hours of dark roosting. I feel a little bit guilty with this con, but then I also feel guilty buying eggs from the shop. A little of the guilt might be offset if I rig up our small solar panel to it. If that works then there may be a certain poetry to the setup. Instead of using electricity I will be using the battery to bottle the sunlight and give them a little back in the long winter nights.