Chicken Coop Lighting in the Winter
It’s January and I don’t know about you, but me and the girls are feeling this long winter month! While it’s been absolutely gorgeous with multiple days of rime ice, January feels like it may never end. Rime ice is when super cooled water liquid droplets freeze onto the trees. It’s stunning and makes us feel like we’re in a snow globe.
Inside the coop isn’t quite as glamorous. Haha! Chickens are messy and dusty, but I want to show you what we use for lighting in our coop. Chickens do their best egg laying work when they’re exposed to around 15 hours of light. Light plays a huge factor in egg production. Our winter days are much shorter than that, so if we want our flocks to continue laying, we need to supplement their light. We have lights in our coop simply due to a lack of windows. In the winter, our chickens need light to see to eat, scratch, play and lay eggs. They’re pretty much “cooped up” due to our large amounts of snow on the ground, so this is why we light our coop.
We use the ceiling lights all year round. However, in the summer months, when it’s hot, we don’t have them on too much. The chickens spend most of the lazy summer days outside in their large run.
When we had our smaller coop and didn’t have electricity or the solidness of our current coop, we ran an extension cord to supplement a little light in the winter months. This was to help with lighting as well as predator protection. Chickens can’t see in the dark at all. So, if it’s dark they can’t even attempt to protect themselves.
We have our lights on a timer now. The chickens get approximately 12 hours of light during the winter months. Our egg production slows way down in the winter, but I’m okay with the girls getting a “break”. Chickens also need periods of dark, so they can get adequate sleep. I love the summer months because my chickens just know when to go to bed. They slowly meander into the coop around dusk, get their last drink or snack, and jump up on their perch. I suppose it’s that way all year round in warmer climates. In that case, you’d have to decide whether you even need any light or not.
My chickens would be awfully unhappy and frankly unhealthy if we didn’t supplement a little light into their coop. It really does depend on our set up too. I know many people who raise backyard chickens here in Minnesota and don’t use any lighting. Because of our fairly closed set up (only two windows), we use it. I love to open the big doors up on warmer days to let more natural light and fresh air pour in. The chickens love it too!
I’d like to touch on heat lamps really quick. The only time we use a heat lamp is if our heat panels can’t keep the brooder warm enough. We use them sparingly as I know there have been many coop fires due to these lamps. If you must use them, please make sure you’re checking the cords, connections and keeping them as dust free as you can. Fully feathered chickens do really well in the winter months! They have a built-in winter coat and can keep themselves quite comfortable.
For now, I’ll let the girls rest. Because as the days get longer, my egg basket will get fuller. And we all know with the current prices, full egg baskets are a blessing! If you really want your chickens to lay year-round, remember to supplement their light to around the 12–16-hour range. There are mixed thoughts on this, but the bottom line is that you need to do what’s best for your flock and family.
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady