Adding a light to dark coop to see if eggs increase

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bwindrope, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. bwindrope

    bwindrope Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2011
    So my coop is built under our patio deck, in the only place it can really work in our backyard. I'm quite proud of it as it is the 4th coop I've built and I applied many lessons learned from previous coops (Sand! Sand! Sand!). However, the one failing of the coop is that it gets no direct sunlight and even ambient light is quite dim. For perspective, on a cloudy day it is dim enough inside that you couldn't read a book comfortably. And we are here in the lovely and cloudy NW.

    I've used supplemental light in winter before here and am familiar with the good effects on egg laying, but my flock of three pretty ausrtralorps have decided to greatly reduce their laying here in summer. Now, I know moulting can be a cause of reduced laying, but my birds look pristine and there are no feathers laying around the coop. So my next theory is that they are simply not getting enough light (given that food and water are unchanged)

    Today I added a light to their coop and plan to have it on for about 12 hours a day. I want to do this for a week or two and see if we can get back to 2-3 eggs a day from the 1 every few days we get now. I'll post what happens.

    Just wondering if anyone else out there has a coop in a very dark place and needed supplemental daytime light to augment their laying, even before equinox.
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Now that you have added the light, it will prove quite difficult to remove it. My guess is that the hens will like it. 12 hours of light is not overly pushy. That's great, I think.
    Removing the light in two weeks might have an adverse effect on their laying. I have a light, in the barn, that comes on at 5 am, year around and goes off at about 4 pm, year around. Their "day" is never less than 11 hours long with this system. The barn is a barn, and can be somewhat dark on the inside. On super bright days, it probably isn't needed, but this being Michigan, we can get into spells of really grey days. Plus, in the winter, daylight is only about 7 hours, at it's worst.

    Not a believer in really pushing hens in the winter by having 16 hours of light, but helping a little is just fine in my book.
  3. bwindrope

    bwindrope Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2011
    I appreciate your perspective Fred's Hens as it sounds quite comparable to mine. I'd say the light in my coop is pretty similar to a barn and our latitude is pretty much the same too. If having the light on for 12 hours a day results in them laying steadily it will be more than worth the cost of electricity!
  4. Hauntedyards

    Hauntedyards Out Of The Brooder

    May 12, 2011
    I've got an 18" florescent lamp which mimics sunlight I got at a pet store. I'm going to put it on a timer and try and do what another forum member did with a small dim nightlight coming on for an hour after the sun lamp shuts off... to mimic dusk and signal bed time... lol
  5. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Try it, it couldn't hurt. But unless your chickens are confined inside the coop all day, I don't think it's going to make any difference. I don't think the amount of shade in a run affects laying; it certainly hasn't seemed to affect my flock. I sited the run on purpose where it would get shade all day because of the terrible hot summers we get here in Texas.

    I don't know where you are and what climate you deal with, but heat can depress laying, too.
  6. nuchickontheblock

    nuchickontheblock Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 16, 2010
    south portland, maine
    prior to building our new coop, we had a coop with minimal natural light (only through the pop door) and unless they were free ranging in the nice weather, I had a 40 watt bulb on throughout the day. Otherwise, if they went into the nest box, they wouldn't be able to see and in the winter they were in the coop a lot of the time and I didn't think they'd enjoy the dark very much.

    I think a little light is good for them, especially if they will be in the coop much during the shorter daylight months. Right now in our coop that has windows and good natural light we have started putting on a light from 4:30 am until 7:30 am as the days are getting shorter. That increased our egg production after about a week.
    When we have the really hard winter months, I'll probably increase the light to be on until about or 5 pm so they can get to bed.
  7. tbridegroom

    tbridegroom Out Of The Brooder

    I leave my coop light on 24/7 ...I seem to not have problems I can walk in there at night and they're all perched and sleeping
  8. bwindrope

    bwindrope Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2011
    I do let them out every few days or so to run around and let them be chickens, but our local racoon and bald eagle population prevent me from having them out unsupervised. Here in the NW heat is not a concern, and neither is cold (thankfully, having lived in SoCal and CO), but darkness is certainly an issue. We're at 48 north, which is a bit higher than most of the other US population centers, and our cloud cover is fierce from November to June. I think the light will really help them as despite my best efforts to use hardware cloth to let in natural light, they are just not getting much.

    At another coop we had up even further north I used supplemental light from October to March and it really made a big difference. But at that coop they got lots of natural ambient light and so I had the timer on only in the am and later pm to extend the day.

    I went from getting consistent 2-3 eggs a day to about 1 every other day here in the last few weeks. If, as I suspect, this added light brings them back into laying at full tilt then I will be quite happy. I'm using a CFL right now because I prefer the energy efficiency, but I will look into a full spectrum bulb too. Thanks again for the other perspectives and experiences. [​IMG]

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