How much light for winter laying?


10 Years
Nov 14, 2009
Kingman Arizona
I am building a newer, nicer chicken coop. I would like to have a light in it both to help them lay better in winter and so I can see in there in the dark if I need to check on them. The coop is 4 feet by 6 feet inside, how much light should I have in there to keep them laying? Because my house sits in a hole surrounded by large hills, it starts to get dark now around 5 pm and the birds start going to bed, and the sun is not really out until 7 because it's behind the hill, so they are not getting much daylight.

The issue is that the coop is pretty far from the nearest source of electricity (no choice but to do it that way) so the only way to plug a standard light in would be to have 300 feet or more of extension cord running across the property from inside the house somehow...which is not an option, since this is not my house and I don't make the, I am looking into the possibility of solar or maybe battery powered lights, I just don't know how bright I need to get it in there. Does anyone have any advice?
As far as checking on them, I cannot highly-enough recommend a good headlamp. They make cheap reliable LED ones these days for like $20 if you shop around. Presto.

Obviously that won't help if you want to light for better laying, though. For that purpose, the easiest "no electric power available" solution is to buy a solar powered path light, preferably a reasonably cheap one because you WANT it to run out of power after a few hours since there is no good way to put a timer on it. Mount it so that the solar panel and light sensor part is on the outside of your coop (preferably on the south facing side), and the lightbulb part is on the inside of the coop. This may require a bit of shopping around to find one that is configured right, or in some cases you can do a bit of gentle disassembly.

What will happen, if you are living right, is that the day's sunlight charge in the cheapo battery will give you "a few" hours of acceptibly-bright light after sunset, then gradually fade to black as it poops out until the next day. This is not adjustable, and if your coop is in a shady location or you happen to buy TOO cheap a path light it may not give you quite enough light for the very shortest days of the year, but on the other hand it quite often DOES work and requires no extension cords or fire hazards.

The only other solution I know of is to refresh your memory about d/c electrical stuff, get a battery and a lightbulb, and find yourself a d/c timer that you can wire into the circuit. People on this forum keep suggesting that but I am not sure I have seen anyone actually DO it successfully, with a particular shopping list and set of directions to recommend. Perhaps you'll be the first

300' of extension cord is, indeed, not a good idea from any of several standpoints and IMO you are very right to not want to do it.

(e.t.a. - you asked how bright. A reasonable rule of thumb is "bright enough to read a newspaper at chicken level in the coop". I realize this does not tell you what light to go out and buy, but it will tell you how to check whether a light you install (or 'audition') will be bright enough to "count" in terms of stimulating laying.)

Good luck, have fun,

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We've got headlamps and good flashlights for checking the animals right now. But it would also be nice to be able to get a light on in there if there is a possible problem that needs looking at in the dark, which is when things usually seem to happen, that or in the rain.
So the biggest thing is going to be light for them to lay. I've got two of those solar walkway lights that I got thinking they might be a nice "night light" for my goat house, but they're really dim. I guess it would take a few of them, that's a good guide with "bright enough to read by". Thanks!

Does anyone have any experience with these LED Christmas lights that operate on AA batteries? I saw some for super cheap on Ebay, like a dollar a set, but I can't find anything on how long they will go with one set of batteries, it would not be worth it if I am changing batteries in them every day, every few days wouldn't be so bad with rechargeable batteries, and longer obviously would be better. Does anyone know how bright those are, do they compare to the regular plug-in ones?
Sam's club had a solar area light for closets, attics, etc,.. They are pretty good size and just have a wire running to the solar panel outside. They are a step up from the path light and were under $30. Cheaper than 300 feet of extension cords.
Sounds like a good deal, unfortunately we are four hours from the nearest Sam's and also don't have a membership. I saw some similar setups online but the shipping costs were outrageous.
One thing that helps a LOT is to paint the entire inside of the coop white, if it isn't already. Including the ceiling.

Does anyone have any experience with these LED Christmas lights that operate on AA batteries?

The ones I've seen and owned have been dim, probably not going to be enough for you. Also note that they would have to be turned on and off manually every day. The solar powered ones are even dimmer, definitely unusable IMO.

Likewise solar attic/shed lights have no timer, they ahve to be shut off manually. Although I suppose you could TRY just letting them exhaust their batteries every night, see how that works and how long they last. I would be concerned that the batteries are probably not designed to withstand too much of that though I do not actually *know*.

Good luck, have fun,

Yes, manual on and off it will have to be, with solar or battery. I'm not aware of either one that comes equipped for using a timer. That's not so bad though. Good idea on painting the inside white.

I'm done with coop building for today. And sick of looking at it. I was just moving a heavy pallet over to build another section, and just as I was pushing it over to lay on the ground until I was ready for it, our favorite rooster saw me and ran for my feet (he pecks my feet until I pick him up and pet him) and ran under the falling pallet. I could not grab it before it fell on him. It crushed him to death.
So sorry...what a terrible accident! Sounds like your favorite rooster had a happy and (spoiled
) life.
mypeeps'n'me :

So sorry...what a terrible accident! Sounds like your favorite rooster had a happy and (spoiled
) life.

We've only had him a few weeks, but he was a sweetheart. His previous owner spoiled him rotten, but she got in trouble for having a rooster in the city, so we took him home. Unfortunately, she is coming over tomorrow to get some she's going to have to find out what happened.
I use solar spotlights for my tractor coop. They work reasonably well, although not as well as electric timed lights. These are a 3 pack with a remote solar panel, purchased at Lowes last year for $30. Each light has 3 LED bulbs. You can hook up one, two or all three. They are dusk to dawn, but last only 3 hours or so in the winter. Downside is they don't work when it is really rainy or cloudy. I have 2 little 1 bulb stick up LED lights and leave them on all night when the solar doesn't go on. I have been happy with them & my bantams layed pretty well all winter. There are other brands of these out there also.

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