Light in the coop for the winter?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jul 6, 2009
Madison, WI
I've got a flock of 6 young hens, hatched in April and May. Two have started laying, and I think two more are really close.

I'm debating whether I should put an artificial light in the coop to stimulate egg production through the winter. I live in Wisconsin, and the days are already getting pretty short. I like the idea of having lots of eggs through the winter, but I've also heard that the extra light and extra egg laying can be stressfull for the birds.... I also wonder if the younger ones won't lay at all till spring if I don't give them extra light.

Any thoughts or opinions?
I asked this earlier, is this for light or heat? if light, I may modify some solar driveway lights for the purpose!
Chickens slow down their egg laying as the days shorten. So instead of getting an egg a day, you may get 2 eggs a week from your chickens.

Some folks put a light in their coop, this way it fools the chickens into laying more eggs in the winter because they believe the days are staying longer. If you do this you have to go out and turn the light on around 3pm before dusk and then turn it off around 8pm so that the chickens can get some rest.

This wouldn't work on my chickens as they refuse to sleep in the coop. They free range day and night, choosing to sleep outside. The Silver Phoenix sleep perched on the goat staunchion, and the White Cochins and one Mottled Java sleep huddled against the coop. However, my young Delawares, Helen, Emily and Biden do choose to sleep in the coop.

So, you add a light to "extend the daylight hours" artificially to match those in spring and summer to artificially inflate your girls egglaying capacity.

It's a personal choice to make and depends on your needs in the winter for eggs, ability to feed chickens who aren't laying at highest capacity etc. Remember that those chickens only have so many eggs in them to lay, no matter when they lay them. If you do this you are accelerating the time when they will stop laying. This is just fine for folks who turn over their laying flock ever year and a half to two years.

Mine went nuts the first winter I had them. I stopped adding lighting and they settled down.
But that's just my experience. You can try it and see what happens.
I add light to my coop an even my run. Not only does it make feeding the boogers at 19.85 a bag a little easier. But on Dec 21 the shortest day of the year we only have a little over 4 hrs of light. Thats not even long enough for them to enjoy eating and being a chicken in, just my two pennies.
i use light all winter in form of a red heat bulb. i leave it on all winter 24/7. they get light , heat and the water doesnt freeze and i get eggs
My birds sleep better without a light. I use a light suspended over the waterer to keep it thawed but it is low and shaded so as to not disturb their sleep. How would you like to have a light on all the time you are trying to sleep?

My birds lay pretty well all winter without added light, so the light over my waterer made no difference, really. My coop has very, very large windows for natural lighting and my birds free range, so maybe light is not such an issue for them.
I use a 40watt bulb set on a timer to come on at 3:30 and off at 7:00 in the winter. The chickens dont mind and egg production does not drop off
I have a 40 watt lightbulb on a timer too and currently it comes on at 4 and goes off at 7:30am. You'll want to adjust it to your daylength as it changes. You need to simulate 14 hours of daylight to keep them laying like they would be in the summer. It doesn't take much wattage. Like mentioned, you can even use the heat lamp for this. I recommend a red heat bulb too, because it doesn't antagonize the birds so much. It is possible to overdo it and trigger the birds to behavior problems like feather pulling and picking. For this reason, the lower wattage is preferable. As soon as the light comes on, they want to eat and get active. Warmth has an effect too. 40 degrees and up they lay better. I don't see any reason not to supplement light, although some say they don't want to wear them out or make them work too hard. Their best laying occurs in the first 2 years of life anyway.

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