Confused about lighting the coop ... and some stupid questions too ...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AuburnChickenNewbies, Oct 2, 2011.

  1. AuburnChickenNewbies

    AuburnChickenNewbies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    During the winter around here (near Seattle), we tend to only have about 8-9 hours of daylight. And some of those days are pretty derned dismal too. So I searched for "light in coops" and see quite a mixed set of thoughts. I read a guide referred to on one of the posts and it recommends 14 hours.

    Our birds are now about five months old and laying really well. I get and kinda like the idea about letting nature control and letting the birds rest in the winter naturally, etc. But then I've read that if daylight gets much less than 14 hours, production goes down dramatically. This is a confusing science for a newbie ...

    So here's the stupid questions part --

    If we decide to light the coop, is it best to do it in the morning? If we turn on lights around 5-ish or so, will the birds be started by the sudden appearance like "gee, where'd that sun come from so fast ... pitch black to SUN in an instance!" You know, and fall off their roost or something?

    Or is it better to leave the lights on in the evening? Understanding that we start to get dark around here around 4-4:30 and are pretty black by 5 in December.

    And then if we leave the lights on in the evening, do the birds ever get confused and don't get up on their roost in time when the lights go out and then have to sit on the floor of the coop until morning? Or do they figure it out and go to bed at about their typical 7pm time.

    So maybe lights on at 5-7am and again 4-7pm or so?

    Or should we be thinking about the idea of also lighting the coop to provide some heat in the winter? We don't get that cold all that often ... but sometimes it's below freezing for a couple of weeks or so ...

    ......

    Just wanting to keep the girls happy, you know?
     
  2. LiLRedCV

    LiLRedCV Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We live in the southern part of Pierce County. We've had chickens since last spring. Never lighted the coop, but we also had clear corrugated roofing panels on the top of the run/coop so it allowed for as much natural light as possible. Our girls never missed a beat in their laying! We had a flock of 13 back then and averaged about 6-9 eggs a day (they don't lay every single day even in the best of times). And remember when we had all that snow over Thanksgiving week? We only heated the coop once for one day during that whole time frame! Girls weathered that just fine too.

    We built a new larger coop this summer for our flock since it grew (considerably!) and are using those clear corrugated clear roofing panels on 1/2 the roof.

    This is the coop they lived in spring/summer/fall/winter 2010
    [​IMG]
     
  3. AuburnChickenNewbies

    AuburnChickenNewbies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What a great coop! I love the idea of the light roof like that. We have plenty of windows, but because it sits up under trees, the light isn't great.

    I absolutely remember the snow storm! We've had a few odd, cold winters the last few years, that's for sure.

    We're getting 5-6 eggs a day out of 7 chickens, occasionally 7. Quite amazing!
     
  4. dbcooper02

    dbcooper02 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your chickens can cope with an instant sunrise much better than an instant sundown. I'd set the timer to come on about 14 hours before natural sunset.
    As long as the coop is dry and draft free suplemental heating should not be needed. I'd rather have birds aclimated to the natural temperature rather than
    dependant on artificial heat that is likely to fail when it's most needed.
     
  5. LiLRedCV

    LiLRedCV Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:We actually moved this coop up under our trees by our house when it was completed. Still appeared to garner enough light for them even in our dismal winter grey sky climate. None of our coops really have windows. Just those panels.

    With your windows, you can try to see if that may be enough for your flock. If it proves to be an issue with their egg laying, you can then add the light with the timer - try the morning first and then add the evening if you feel they need an extended period from there. I know many people who've lost their coops to electrical fires tho'. [​IMG] Mainly using long electrical cords and hanging lights the girls can knock around a bit. That's one of the many reasons I don't light/heat our coop.
     
  6. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    I'll see if I can help with some of your questions.

    You don't need to add heat in the winter. They'll do fine without it.

    Most pullets lay right through their first winter even if they don't have supplemental light. Their first winter as hens, the following year, is when supplemental lighting may be needed to keep them laying when the days get short.

    People spend a lot of time worrying about when to add the additional light. I've lighted just in the morning, just in the evening and in both the morning and the evening in various years. The chickens did fine with all those choices. They also get used to the new lighting schedule. Mine go to roost before the lights go off in the coop. We have a coop cam and have watched.

    You don't need a lot of light in there for it to be effective. Our coop is not brightly lit. It has more of the feel of a cozy living room in the evening. The chickens can see through the windows that it's dark outside.
     
  7. AuburnChickenNewbies

    AuburnChickenNewbies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you both so much for your replies. I really appreciate knowing that we won't loose production if we don't light the coop. It was yet one more expense in building this "chicken mansion" out there that I was hoping to avoid this year. My husband, the "it's gotta look good" guy has been spending lots of hours tweaking and messing around with this coop ... and wood and stuffs are expensive! (whew ... I never realized).

    Anyway, the lighting is good to hear!! We'll work on getting the coop lit for our own convenience now, I think, but the urgency is gone. ... and the same thing with heat. We'll probably wire things up out there so we can add a heat lamp if necessary. I'm more concerned about keeping water thawed and fresh for them, so have been investigating some of the christmas lights in a cookie tin idea too.

    I sure appreciate BYC! You guys/gals are GREAT! [​IMG]
     
  8. chickbea

    chickbea Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2007
    Vermont
    I have my light on a timer that comes on at about 6:30A and goes off around 8:00P. It's not just for the girls but for me as well; if I didn't have the lights on in winter I'd never see the chickens - I leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark!
     
  9. AuburnChickenNewbies

    AuburnChickenNewbies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No kidding!!! I'm lucky in that I work from home many days of the week. But hubby? Same thing. Dark when he leaves and dark when he comes home. He said the same thing!
     
  10. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    We've usually used fluorescent lights, but LED lights work, too. Some people have even picked up cheap LED Christmas lights that are very cheap to run. They're a lot easier to use in small coops, too.
     

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