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Supplemental light, AM or PM and why

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Original Recipe, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. Original Recipe

    Original Recipe In the Brooder

    Sep 3, 2013
    Starting my first winter with chickens. I've been putting a light on in the coop and run for a few hours after dusk since mid October. I leave for work well before daybreak and I've noticed that my neighbors a few doors down (who I don't know) have their coop light on in the mornings. A few blocks away from me someone raises chickens and turkeys in temporary hoop houses. They seem to be running their lights at night. I saw the lights on at midnight one night. Just wondering what the benefits are to running lights in the AM vs PM and vise-versa.

    Main reason I ask is I'm wondering if I'm causing my birds to sleep during the day. My lights come on at dusk, the run turns off at 9:00 and the coop turns off at 10:00. I open the door before I leave in the mornings but they usually don't come out until sunrise according to my wife. After they have eaten and milled around a bit, they just go back in. I could understand if it were nasty weather, but like right now it's 11:00 AM, 50 degrees, sunny and no wind. You would think they would be out enjoying the sunshine, but instead they are napping up in the coop and probably won't come back out until this afternoon.

    Am I running my lights too long, should I shut them off earlier or switch to mornings, or will that just screw them up for a while (they are only a few weeks away from starting to lay).

  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Songster

    Aug 4, 2013
    The purpose of extra light is to trick them into laying like in the summer time. Most hens slow down in the winter time because of the reduced daylight hours and I use it as their rest time. If you are going to give extra light I would suggest to do it in the mornings. If you do it at night and it doesn't shut off with a slow dim it could cause them to get caught off of the roost because they have no clue when exactly it will happen. If you turn them on in the morning it is more natural and 3 hours is the average time frame from what I have read. In the mornings they will stay in the coop until daylight as they cannot see in the dark at all. They will start the egg laying process (25 hour process) and mull around in the coop until they are ready to come out.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    If you choose to use additional lighting AM is best. Another reason is it starts the laying cycle for day early so you can grab unfrozen eggs before work or if someone is home most eggs are laid in morning- less chance of freezing.

    Added light does work wonders. It will shorten the over all years of laying for your birds but gives you a barely noticeble change in production come winter light.
  4. Original Recipe

    Original Recipe In the Brooder

    Sep 3, 2013
    What if they won't go in at night without light? The entire reason I started the evening lighting is because they wouldn't go in. I'd find them huddled in a corner of the run late in the evening and a soon as I'd turn on a light they'd walk up the ramp and roost. So I started the coop light at dusk and it worked but they'd still stay out in the dark until 9:00 or so before they'd go in, so I added the run light.
  5. Very interesting to see how differently people handles their flock's, for I know, here in S.A. the hens will stay in batteries, it is a 300mmX300mm fence cages, with the lights permanently on
  6. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    With my set up in the barn I learned that the chickens learn to go to roost before the light in their pen goes out. The barn has other lights that stay on longer then the pens. When I went in to shut down, the chickens were already on the roost before their light went off, an hour before they were down and doing their chicken things after the sun had set. They learn when to go to roost if the light is on a timer. So now I think I prefer to add light in the evening so the roosters don't wake up so early.
  7. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    I light in both the morning and the evening simply because I'd have to turn the lights on at around 2am to get 16 hours of light for the birds. I don't want them all up and active in the coop for so many hours in the morning without water and in so little space, and pooping so much inside instead of out in the pasture. So I have my light turn on at 4am and off again at 8am, then on again around 4:30pm and off again at 8pm. I do not have trouble with birds being caught off perches in the evenings--they are all perched before the lights go off. The light is not there to get them up and active, although that does happen in the mornings. The light is there to stimulate their pineal gland, and it can do that whether they are perched or not.

    As far as battery cages in SA with the lights on 24/7--are you sure that's true? If so, they are losing eggs. There has been a lot of research done that shows that chickens need 14-16 hours of light to lay well, but once you go over 18 hours of light per day laying decreases.

    Chickens do not need light to go in to roost. My birds do that all summer when the lights are off. When they are young and stupid, they will huddle outside the hen house. Pick them up and put them inside every night around dusk. You'll only have to do it for 3-7 days before the birds start doing it on their own. I've never had a new batch of pullets that didn't need to be trained to go into the hen house when they were moved there from another pasture.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013

  8. ECBW

    ECBW Songster

    Apr 12, 2011
    Only AM lighting for my flock. Experimented with various scenario and derived to this conclusion. The birds need minimum 12 hours, front-end and/or back-end matters little. Time of sun set and rise changes everyday. I find that I need to adjust the timer frequently. With pre-dawn lighting only, there is only one setting to adjust. Currently the light comes on about 4am. The birds are back to producing nicely. I also find the birds more lively and their combs more vibrant with the light.
  9. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008
    Research shows that birds need between 14-16 hours of light. 12 is not enough.
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Mine goes on in the morning, 3am, as I figured they'd go to roost better with the natural sunset.......Sounds like that doesn't matter tho.
    It works, egg production has slowed abit, but we've got some molting going on and I noticed that with the cold snap and snow fall they were less active and I got fewer eggs during those few days. Oh and I've got 18 months olds.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013

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