Lighting turkeys for off-season egg production
Results from this study indicate that best turkey egg production is obtained from winter-hatched poults that are stimulated to lay at about 30 weeks of age following an exposure to 6 weeks of restricted light. Hens given stirnulatory light earlier (at 24 and 26 weeks of age) produced fewer and smaller eggs over a 20 week period of lay. These younger hens also tended to pause more frequently than older hens, and a greater percentage of the younger birds terminated egg production prematurely. It was of interest to note that approximately 54% of the hens in hatch 4 did not pause in lay at any time during the 20 weeks of lay, as compared with 77% of the hens in hatch 1. The incidence of pausing, irrespective of age of the hen, also appears to be concentrated in certain families within this study. The trait of broodiness has been greatly reduced in certain strains of chickens and small breeds of turkeys. Consequently similar genetic gains in decreased incidence of pausing can be anticipated in medium-to-large strains of turkeys. Thus increased rates of lay through improved genetic control of pausing may make it possible and economically profitable to supply light to hens before 30 weeks of age.