Chicken Coop Supplemental Lighting for Egg Laying in Winter

Chicken coop in winter weather
Easter Egger Chicken
This chicken, Bugsy Blue, just wants to sit in from of the wood stove with me. She is so spoiled!

Providing laying hens with some supplemental light in the chicken coop during the long fall and winter days will help them with egg production. Many people will argue that the chicken needs time to rest on the darkest of days. This simply isn’t the case. Chickens, like people, need a certain amount of light each day to feel their best. Giving them an extra hour or two starting at the end of October until early spring will help them to lay eggs right through the winter.

Plan on checking your nest boxes several times a day when it is below freezing so that you don’t loose any eggs to them freezing and busting the shell. If you can’t check your nest box in early afternoon, you might not want to supply your chickens with supplemental lighting in their coop. You will still get an egg every now and then, but not everyday if you don’t supply them with artificial lighting.

When Should the Lights Be On?

The supplemental light for chicken coops in the winter should be turned on in the morning hours. This will allow the chickens to naturally go to bed at night when the sun goes down.

We came to this conclusion after spending a night out by the chicken coop when the lights were set to go out. The chickens were left completely in the dark with no idea what to do at that point.

The next day, we set the timer to come on at 6:30 am and go off at 8:30 am. This was before the daylight savings time change in early November but even when the time changed, the timer was still set perfectly.

This is the kind of timer that I use. I like it because it is easy to use, you just set the arrow at the current time and then press down the spots that you want it to come on, in the morning hours. Here is a picture of it:

You can also use the gray switch at the top to turn the light on at any time if you need to get inside their chicken coop and clean or collect eggs and then just switch it back off when you are done.

Having the supplemental light in the chicken coop come on in the morning allows the laying hens to wake up a little earlier and start stretching their legs before they can actually get outside and start their day. Make sure they have access to water inside the coop because they will want a drink early.

What Kind of Light for the Chicken Coop?

Ultimately, the light you choose should be the one that you already have. If you have a light already in the coop, just plug it into your new timer. If you don’t have a light, get a clamp light and put an led bulb in it. It doesn’t have to be very bright, just something to wake them up. It could even be a strand of Christmas lights plugged in to your timer. Just remember to turn them on in the morning hours so they aren’t left in the dark at night.

You’ll find adding supplemental light in chicken coop will keep you eating eggs all winter long!

How Do I Keep Chickens Water From Freezing?

Since we have electric inside this concrete block chicken coop, we use a heated water like this one:

For those of you who don’t have electric, check out this article on Tips for Surviving the Cold with Chickens.

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