My pullets (various breeds) were hatched July 5, so I expect them to start laying at some point during the winter. They are housed in a converted stall in my barn, with a pop door and a small run, but are currently free-ranging most of the day almost every day. As we've been having fairly mild winters, I hope to let them out to range through the winter on all but the most severe days. There is plenty of overgrown pasture for them to swarm, so there should be forage until spring (unless I get my sheep earlier than expected.) I currently have two flourescent shop light fixtures (for a total of four four-foot tubes) in their 8x10 coop. The fixtures are on a timer, and currently go on just before dusk and stay on for about two hours. I find this encourages the chooks to come inside in the evening, and gives me light for evening chores. Two questions: 1) Should I start to gradually increase the hours of artificial light as the days shorten, in order to encourage them to start laying when their time comes? Or will they start laying regardless, and I can increase the hours of light when that happens? 2) Does it make sense to wake them up early instead of keep them up late once they start laying? I'd like to let them out to range as soon as it gets light in the morning on days when it's warm enough, but I sure don't want them making nests outside in winter. I was thinking of having the lights come on extra-early, so that they do their laying before I open the pop door. Will this work?