Light in coop - required?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ssteiner, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. ssteiner

    ssteiner Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 24, 2008
    Orange, CA
    I live in Southern California. I've noticed on several posts people talking about turning a light on in the coop at night for a few hours (presumably not for heat, but rather to keep them laying). I don't do this. Should I?

    My four girls aren't laying yet so it's a non-issue for now. I expect them to start around March or April, but come next winter, I don't want to see a big drop off in egg production. Thanks.

  2. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    If your region has less than 14 hours of sunlight per day during the winter months, you may want to supplement with additional lighting. Set the light up so that it turns on automatically at dusk, and turns off after a few hours. This will save you extra work.

    It is not recommended to leave a light on all night in the coop, as there is some concern that it may lead to reproductive problems.
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Lots of us don't add light. You should research the issue before you decide whether it's right for you and your situation. It's not adding light at night that's been said to cause reproductive issues, it's adding light period. Mother Nature designed chickens so that taking a break from laying in the winter gives them a rest period from what is hard work for them.
    You can use the search feature here on BYC to get both sides of the story; here's a thread that I found to get you started:

    Also, if you do decide to add light it's best added in the morning before daybreak. That way your chickens can go to roost naturally in the evenings. If you have a light on in the evenings and it suddenly goes out your chickens won't be able to see to get on their roosts.
  4. AK-Bird-brain

    AK-Bird-brain I gots Duckies!

    May 7, 2007
    Sterling, Alaska
    Dont just think of your hens here. If you have a low ceiling in your coop you may want a light so your not smacking your head every time you go in there at night or in the early morning.
  5. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    Quote:Scott, many of us see that as opinion only, often repeated here though scientific research is never cited to substantiate it. It ignores the large areas of the world that has long days all winter long, as if the chicken has been "designed" to suit only the poster's own specific geographic area and the rest of the world does not exist.

    If one wants to look to Ma Nature for the "natural" break from laying that she designed into chickens, I would think that we need only to look at the moult for that. Any additional "rest" that a chicken may get due to short winter days is only a matter of where it lives.

    As you probably can tell, adding light is a subject of which there are many opinions. You will have to determine what you are comfortable with. I would rely more on scientific data than on those whose whole idea of what is "natural" is based only on what they observe in their northern latitudes, those who will present their ideas of chicken reproductive physiology without offering scientific substantiation or those who will assume some perceived moral high-ground because they don't use artificial light in the winter while those of us that do are "hard-up" for a few eggs or just as bad as factory farms. (Yes, I've heard that from supposed "experts" here and elsewhere.)

    As you probably guess, I "extend" my chickens' day for several hours. Is it necessary? No. Does it increase their productivity over the winter? Yes. Is that a bad thing? No. At least no one here is offering any scientific data to prove that it is.

  6. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    I don't add light. I did however build my coop with a skylight. In place of one of the tin roof panels I put in a clear plastic one.

    Last edited: Dec 29, 2008
  7. MamaTaney

    MamaTaney Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 5, 2008
    Salem, VA
    We don't have a light in our coop either. Our gals are still in the beginning stages of egg laying (in just the last 4 days we've gone from 1 out of 6 laying to now 3!!!).
    Our reason for not adding light only has to do with that it isn't practical for us. Our coop is only about 4' tall or so, so trying to hang something inside would take up even more room. Also, we have a 9 month old, 70+ pound puppy who likes to climb on their tractor, and hasn't been fazed by chewing on various electrical cords - so running a cord out there would be too much temptation for him!!
    Since we've been getting more eggs, I can't say anything about the seasonal drop. We also made sure to put them in a spot of the yard where they will get the most amount of sunlight possible. We also don't eat a whole lot of eggs, have no customer "demands" to worry about, so it isn't a biggy if we only get one egg a day, as we did today. Just won't be cooking lots of omelettes or making up eggnog! [​IMG]
    Go with what works for you though. Only you know what your flock really needs.
  8. Superior Chicks

    Superior Chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    CoyoteMagic what a great skylight! Nice......

    My coop has several south facing windows, thus the girls get light via them. I add no artificial light and the total hours of light is less than 8 during the winter.

    All girls, Orpingtons and Wyandottes laid all winter long, even when temperatures are sub zero for weeks on end.

    My humble 2 cents [​IMG]

  9. ji

    ji Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 26, 2008
    Coyotemagic I like your skylight too.
    I wanted to put a sklight in the coop I built this year but just didn't have time. They do have a couple of windows.Maybe I will add a sky light next summer.
    Or maybe not. Like Ma , my Wyandottes are still producing like mad in spite of snow and temperatures in the teens for a while.
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:I wasn't trying to come off as if I'm on some higher moral ground, just suggesting that they look at both sides of the issue before they make the decision on how to best provide for their chickens. Which is a good thing to do for all aspects of chicken keeping.
    Where is your so-called evidence that it doesn't do any harm?
    Why do the commercial egg farms get rid of their hens after (usually) 18 months? Why? Because after 18 months of being exposed to non-stop light the hens are burned out.

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