question about lighting for the winter


8 Years
Jun 3, 2011
Henderson County, NC
Hi there! We have some hens who should be laying soon, they are just about 5 months old, and some older layers in another coop. The only type of light timer we have is a Christmas light timer. Soooooo......if we were to put up a string or two of clear lights in each coop, would that be enough light?

Pharm Girl

9 Years
Jan 6, 2011
Food for thought and I may be wrong, but I believe chickens are born with all the eggs they will lay throughout their lives. If given extra light to 'force' extra laying, won't they peter out on egg laying earlier? I've heard of people's chickens laying at 5 years +, but do we all really want to force them all out early and have a bunch of non-egg laying birds at 3 years? I guess it depends on if you plan on disposing of the birds down the road, or if they will just be dinner when the laying is done.
I plan on letting mine live out their lives with us, so force laying is not for us. We take what we get and hope they lay at least a few into a ripe old age..
Anyone have any real expertise in this area?
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8 Years
Mar 15, 2011
Fort Worth, Tx
I have been thinking about this recently also. When it gets dark at 5pm, I would think they would like a little extra light. I dont really want to have to buy eggs in the winter so we are going to give at least a few hours of extra light. Plus I have 2 that have been laying at like 7-8pm so I dont want them to have to "hold it"

I would think that any timer would work, but I have heard of folks hanging a string of the "rope" style white Christmas lights in the coop. We just put a light socket in the coop.


8 Years
May 13, 2011
Anchorage Alaska
I have been having the same thought. My girls will start laying, at least I am told they will, around October at about 5 months of age. Thing is I am in Alaska. So we really have little light. Our shortest day is about 4 hours. Maybe if I just have a light on to make it an 8 hour day they will give us a few a day?

Fred's Hens

Premium Feather Member
9 Years
I don't push my hens too hard in the winter. I prefer they use their energies for producing heat. That said, we have egg customers and production cannot drop off to nothing. We select good winter laying breeds, and yes, there is a difference. We also have horribly short winter daylight days, down to just 6 hours. I provide "some" additional lighting, but not too much. We just have the light come at 5 am winter and summer, snapping off at noon.

If a hen has X amount of eggs to lay in her lifetime, for sheer economics, I would prefer not to have to provide feed for 8 years to get that X amount of eggs, but neither do I wish to burn out a hen in 24 months. We split the difference somewhat. Every flock owner has to make up their own minds on these matters.


All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle
11 Years
Sep 7, 2008
The Emerald City
My Coop
My Coop
It is usually recommended 14 hours of light a day to stimulate laying. Most often added in the morning, so they don't get caught off the roost in the dark, when the lights go out.
I think the idea that they have a limited number of eggs is an old wives tale. Here's some good info.

Imp- Hope the link works. I sometimes have trouble with pdf. If the link does not work; copy & paste into your browser.

ginger c.

8 Years
Apr 20, 2011
I can't remember in which book I found it, but it was suggested you add light to the morning. That way the chickens can get in the coop and go to roost in the natural waning light of evening. If light is added in the evening, the chickens will go from light to complete darkness in the blink of an eye. What if they aren't on the roost yet?

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