Sunday, January 8, 2012

Artificial Light in Chicken Coop?

Just thought I'd ask my online friends about artificial light in the coop.  What do you think?  Do you add light in the coop?  There's so much passion among backyard farmers about it.  

Here's my take.  I do it.  I have a light in the coop which stays on about 12 or 13 hours/day.  I think it does help the hens to lay in the wintertime.  Plus my coop just naturally gets dark, it's only got a small window to let in natural daylight.  And that window doesn't face the sunny side at any time of the day.

We have 17 hens and are averaging about 9 to 11 eggs a day right now, in January in Maryland. 

How many hens do you have?
Do you supplement with artificial light?
How many eggs do you get a day?

Here's today's photos.  The coop always looks dirty - I cleaned it a week ago.  This is the nest box scene at 11AM.

There were lots of birds hanging in the coop this morning.

These hens were in the nestboxes this morning:


Chloe.  She's broody.  She's starting to look bad.  We are going to have to break her of her broodiness if she doesn't get over it soon.  She's looking very dehydrated.  Poor girl.

Zoner.  Her name fits her.  She's such a space cadet.  I love her!


We also add plastic eggs in the nest boxes.  The hens seem to like them, although they know they are not real.  They are supposed to encourage the birds to lay.  When the hens are in a bad mood they throw the fake eggs out of the nest boxes.

Here's the first egg today.
I'm looking forward to your comments!


CaliforniaGrammy said...

Good morning! This is a question I've been pondering also. We have eight hens (2 Sexlinks, 3 Buff Orpingtons, and 3 New Hampshire Reds) all hatched in May. Currently we get 4-5 eggs a day on average. We do not have a light in the coop. We don't have electricity out there so we'd have to go solar, probably, if we choose to light it up. However, there's just the two of us and five eggs a day is plenty. So I guess I just answered my own question! I'm curious as to what others do though, so I'll be checking in from time to time.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I forgot to add that our coop does have two nice-sized windows which allows good light when the sun is up!

John Gray said...

I would say NO!
let your hens rest slightly in this wintertime....
egg prodution takes alot out of them generally without having the extra stress of 365 work......

thats just me thoughts on it!

Kessie said...

I know people say not to leave a light on all night, because it keeps the hens from sleeping. But if you're just using it to extend the daylight hours, I don't see how that's a problem. Especially if you're getting eggs. This is something I'd need to research.

Leigh said...

Well, we don't add light because DH is very much against any unnatural (i.e. artificial) anything when it comes to animals. Last year I had 7 hens, and still got 2 to 4 eggs daily during winter. This year I have 11 hens, 5 are July hatched pullets which are just starting to lay. My older girls didn't lay well this winter, but it may have been due to the constant squabbling amongst the rooster and cockerels. Everything was in an uproar, very upsetting for everybody. We're down to only 1 roo now, so I'm hoping things will settle down!

Carolyn Renee said...

We don't have any light in the chicken coop because we don't have electric run there, but as soon as we get a solar panel set for the barn, I plan on putting light in there for the winters. Although I'll probably have it turn on just at night before sunset for an additional two hours of light.

Our chickens (13 layers now) have really slacked off the past two months, we may get three eggs per week.

Danni said...

I've never done artificial light. One of the things I have loved about moving out to the country is experiencing and living with the "natural cycles" of things. Nature has a reason for having chickens lay less in the winter...Not only is there less light for egg production, they are using their energy to replace the feathers they have lost through late season molting.
I guess I have always felt similar to John Gray. :-)

Anonymous said...

thank god you are back to bloging! I have missed hearing about the animals and farm !

Razzberry Corner said...

I'm so sorry, Jenny wren, I deleted your comment in error when I was reviewing comments on my phone! This is what it said:

Jenny wren's nest has left a new comment on your post "Artificial Light in Chicken Coop?":

yes, I always give my girls at least 10 hours of light a day , I have ten hens and get at least 4-6 eggs a day.
Jenny wren

Country Girl said...

I do love those green eggs!

Lisa said...

I put the light on in the morning for just one extra hour. I go put it on at 6am when I do the other animals and then shut it off when I leave for work at 8am. It seems to work. I don't have much light in the coop either. We have around 30 hens and get 24-26 eggs a day. Last year we didn't do that and we'd only get 4-5 a day. Sometimes none!

Aimee Dickenson said...

I live in SW Virginia in the mountains. It has been a VERY mild winter, so far. We have 8 hens (3 buffs, 3 Barred Rocks and 2 RIR) and one RIR rooster, Stewpot. We have a light on a timer, just to extend the evening light by 4 hours. They get Eastern and Southern light exposure, but they free range most days. We also have a red heat lamp on a thermastat timer, as well. If it gets below 35 degree it turns on, turns off at 45 degrees. We average 5-8 eggs a day. My girls hatched in May. So far, we're happy. I love my "Dixie Chicks" but also know that they are here to supply my family with food. And a lot of laughs!
Go to our blog:

Farm Girl said...

I have never added artificial light in the coop, and it is true I am only getting maybe 1 or 2 eggs a day.
I haven't worried to much about it though as they worked so hard this summer and they really did explosion molt this year. I miss the eggs, but I am glad they are resting. They looked so bad at the end of summer.
We haven't had any rain and it has been warm. So I am afraid we might have bad heat this summer. Which scares me the most for my hens.
I think your coop looks wonderful.

Dog Trot Farm said...

Yes, I am a coop keeper that does provide light for her girls.(and Don Juan the banty rooster.)The light is on a timer, six to eight in the morning and on again from four to seven in the afternoon. I also use a heat lamp when the temperature dips into the teens. This has worked nicely for the past three years, no complaints from the fowl department. Greetings from Maine, Julie.

Razzberry Corner said...

It was very interesting to read everyone's comments! Let me add that my coop really doesn't get much natural light - even on a sunny day it's dark in there without the light on. We have a light on a timer that comes on around when the sun comes up. We are constantly adjusting the timer with the daylight. It's set to go off around 6pm, but often, if it's dark before 6pm, I go out and manually turn off the light. The chickens want to sleep at that time. Everyone lays first thing in the morning.

We also have a heat lamp in the coop for those bitter freezing days and nights. Certain birds like the warmth and certain birds don't seem to care. The Leghorns especially seem to like the heat lamp.

Thanks for the info! Blessings from Razzberry Corner!


Knatolee said...

We use supplemental light, about the same length as you. Right now we're getting 11 - 12 eggs a day. We have (red) heat lamps for when it's cold. We don't have the supplemental light on at night.

I love your hens!

Robin said...

We don't have a light or a heat lamp in either of our coops.

suburban farm girl said...

Wow I love your hen house! I wish ours was as big!
I have also wondered about adding or 'falsifying' light in the winter but after doing a bit of research I came to the same conclusion as John Gray, Leigh and Danni. Its just really not a great idea for the Hens health. I did however, try supplementing their diet last winter. Without hacking your post TOO much you can see it here if you wish:

I found it really successful and we only had a slight drop in egg production. Sorry Lynn I hope you don't mind my putting the link there :)