Are chickens negatively affected living in dark over winter?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by KSWI, Feb 28, 2015.

  1. KSWI

    KSWI New Egg

    Feb 28, 2015
    DePere WI
    My chickens are in a stall in our barn. This stall is in the middle so it stays dark all the time during the winter. In the summer, the door is open and my chickens pretty much free range outside so no problem. I am wondering if chickens will die living in the dark? Or, would it just affect egg production? I have a small door off the back of the stall that they could go outside in an enclosed area, but the side of the barn its on, even if outside during the day, it's not sunny back there. I am considering changing to a stall on an outside wall and putting a window in. However, this is a better stall for us to use. Anyway, not considering egg production, is it harmful, cruel, or otherwise, for the chickens to live in basically the dark over the course of the winter? Note: I don't like leaving the door to their enclosed area over the winter as the wind appears to blow right in the stall which I would think is a harmful draft.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    If you can see to read a newspaper in there, they are getting enough light.

    I don’t know what that barn looks like or how the windows are arranged. Don’t know what the coop looks like in that stall either. It sounds like you have windows in the barn to let in some light. I f the upper part of that stall has wire on it instead of being solid so it lets in light you are probably OK.

    Some people like a real bright coop. I prefer one a little darker. There is a lot of personal preference in that. It does not sound like you are being cruel or inhumane.
  3. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Not having sun shine won't kill them, but, there is a lot of difference between living and thriving.

    I have the same problem you have, so I have a light bulb on a timer in their stall. The light comes on at 4am and turns off at 4 pm, so they roost at the normal time. In the summer they are in a stall that actually gets sunshine. I can't free range my chickens, the neighborhood is full of chicken killing dogs.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2015
  4. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I am assuming you have no electricity going to the barn and especially the chicken stall. Have you considered installing a bottle solar light, or several, such as they are doing for third world countries where people have no light in their tiny dark huts?

    They're real cheap and easy to install, requiring just a liter plastic soda bottle, a tablespoon of chlorine to put in with the water filling the bottle and then a gasket and silicone sealer around the hole you cut in the roof to insert the bottle. The sunlight refracts through the water and lights the dark room enough to read by, never costing a cent in electricity. You can google instructions on how to do it.
  5. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    I would rethink the door if this is going to be the permanent chicken stall. If the door is a slider, just fashion a doggy door that lets them come and go. They can learn to push through the plastic. If it's a dutch door or a full door, or if the walls are simple plywood, you can easily make a pop door. You can take an old window and prop it up against the barn to shield the opening outside free of snow and wind that will act like a sunroom. If the door is too valuable, take it down and make another door. You could split the opening, putting a window up top and the pop door below it. Chickens can and do survive without natural sunlight but I've yet to find one that didn't take advantage of it when they could.
  6. lalaland

    lalaland Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 26, 2008
    Pine County MN
    I would second that. Get them some natural light or provide access to outdoors daily. They will live but not thrive.
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I do not think this is a good idea. Birds are a big user of Calcium and that needs vitamin D that comes from exposure to the sun.

    I think that disease and parasites would also build up in the dark. And I think that it is probably hard to keep them dry enough, without fresh air, and daylight, you are very probable to get mold build ups and other damp issues. If you want them locked up in there over night, maybe no biggie, but I think they should be outside during the day.

    Mrs K
  8. KSWI

    KSWI New Egg

    Feb 28, 2015
    DePere WI
    Thanks everyone. I will try the window pane over their door to the outside. It's a cut out we made like the size of a med dog door. Just the side of barn it faces is west so does not get light flooding in. The barn door light does not reach it. I do keep a heat bulb on my roosters water (they are in cage runs) so some of that light floods in a spot to the floor so sure you can see in stall with lights out-just thinking it's not enough. I'll have to look at coop forum-need some good lighting suggestions that are economical and work well in cold temps.

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