Supplemental Coop Lighting For Egg Production
by Meghan H
Published January 2, 2023
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There is a lot of controversy over using artificial lighting in a coop during the dark winter months. Our goal here isn’t to tell you if you should or shouldn’t light your barn to get more eggs. We want to inform you of the pros and cons of using artificial lighting if you choose to do so.
- The hens aren’t “freeloading” as much.
- Your family has better food security during winter
- If you sell your eggs, you’ll retain more customers during the winter if you can keep egg production up.
- Any interruption in the lighting schedule may trigger a molt.
- Reproductive issues such as vent prolapse or shell issues may develop.
- Behavioral issues such as egg eating or picking could arise. Hens with a lighted coop but no outside access in the early morning hours get bored and may behave badly.
- Light added in the evening may delay the chickens from roosting, leading to possible nighttime exposure to nocturnal predators.
If you add extra lighting to your coop to keep egg production up, we recommend using a timer for the lights and having it come on early in the morning instead of at night. Early morning light will give the hens the 15 hours of daylight they need for production but still allow them to que into the natural sunset to roost properly in the evening. Just be aware that in the extreme northern US states, this could mean that your lights need to come on at 4 am. If you have a rooster, he will be crowing at 4 am!
How to Implement A Change in Lighting
Let’s say you’ve decided to add supplemental lighting. For your flock’s health and peaceful pecking order, don’t suddenly give them a 4 am wake-up light in the middle of December! Going from 9 hours of daylight to 15 abruptly may lead to the behavioral troubles mentioned earlier. I prefer to add 15 minutes more light each week until I’ve worked the schedule up to the 15-hour photoperiod needed for laying. Yes, it will take several weeks or months, depending on what time of the year you’re implementing a change. It’s safer and healthier for the hens to make lighting changes gradually over several weeks and in small increments.
Or Let Them Take a Break
It’s also perfectly acceptable not to add supplemental lighting and let the hens take a fall break. If you’ve stored up extra eggs during the spring and summer by water glassing your extra eggs, you may get enough eggs from your flock even without extra lighting to get through the winter.
Do you use artificial lighting for your laying hens? Leave us a comment and tell us how it works for you. Or do you prefer to let them take a break for the winter?
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