Reproduction in the chukar is much the same as in other seasonal layers in that eggs are produced in the spring, when favourable light conditions prevail. It is possible, however, to induce lay in chukars at any time of the year with proper preconditioning with light. In preparation for lay, chukars must receive a period of no stimulatory light, and by alternating 2 flocks through either stimulatory or no stimulatory light, it is possible to have one or the other flock in egg production at all times, irrespective of the season.
A lighting scheme used to demonstrate this is shown in figure 14. Experience gained at Davis has shown that egg production from young chukars (35 to 40 weeks old) for the first lay period is always less than for their second cycle of lay (figure 15). The use of artificial light to induce lay has one disadvantage in that it takes the males approximately two weeks longer than females to reach sexual maturity. To avoid this problem, males should be separated from the hens and given stimulatory light two weeks in advance of them.
For egg production, a light intensity of about5- to 10-foot candle (50 to 100 lux) is adequate. During the “rest” period, under non stimulatory light (8L:16D), the level of intensity should be about 0.5 foot candle (5 lux). For maximum conditioning during the rest period, the long dark period of the day should never be disrupted by light, even for a brief second.
It was found at the University of California that for birds given light from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., the peak of production occurs about 8 hours after the onset of light (figure 16). Approximately 50 percent of all eggs are laid between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon, the remainder from1 to 7 p.m. A late-hour harvest of eggs each day will catch most of the late layers.
There is sufficient evidence to indicate that breeders can be held over for a second year of satisfactory egg production even though cycled through 2 previous lay periods. After 2 years of age, however, other reproductive traits (fertility and hatchability) show a decline. Some producers prefer to hold half of the first-year males as breeders for the next year.