Use of Artificial Lighting to Increase Photoperiod Length for Pasture-Raised Laying Hens to Improve Egg Productivity and Quality

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2014: $10,997.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: Texas A&M University-Commerce
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Jackie Wahrmund
University of Kentucky

Annual Reports


  • Animals: poultry


  • Animal Production: free-range, grazing management, housing, pasture fertility, range improvement
  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: demonstration
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, new enterprise development, whole farm planning
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry

    Proposal abstract:

    This project  proposes to investigate a novel sustainable management practice for increasing egg production and quality by determining the effects of commercial-style photoperiod in a sustainable-style management practice on laying hen deposition rate. Funding for this study will provide housing, feed and research materials. Thirty hens will be randomly assigned to blocks, with five hens per block.  There will be two blocks per coop.  Coops will be randomly assigned to management system treatments, including: commercial (COM), pasture-raised (PAST) and pasture-raised with an extended, commercial-style photoperiod (PEP). The COM hens will be raised indoors with ad libitum feed and a sixteen-hour photoperiod. The PAST hens will have identical housing as the COM hens and access to ten square meters of pasture per hen. The PEP hens will have identical housing as the PAST hens and a sixteen-hour photoperiod. Hen deposition rate will be measured once per week over a 56-day period. The soil and forage composition will also be tested at the beginning, midpoint and end of the study. It is hypothesized that the deposition rate of the PEP hens will be higher than the PAST hens, and that PAST- and PEP-assigned pastures will have greater nutrient and nitrogen content. Implications from this study will improve sustainability by quantifying the benefits of additional light and pasture on egg production and egg quality in pasture-raised hen production systems.  This knowledge should help poultry producers attain greater productivity in their sustainable management programs.

    Project objectives from proposal:


      1. Humanely raise 30 hens in an identical manner to be used for the comparison of deposition rates between management practices


      1. Randomly assign 30 hens to 6 treatment blocks


      1. Compare egg productivity of pasture-raised hens, with and without added coop lighting, to commercially-raised hens


      1. Compare egg quality of pasture-raised hens, with and without added coop lighting, to commercially-raised hens


      1. Determine if an extended photoperiod affects egg deposition rate of pasture-raised hens


      1. Determine if an extended photoperiod affects egg quality of pasture-raised hens


      1. Determine the effects of housing hens on pasture on soil and forage composition


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.