Adding Supplemental Lighting

February 2, 2020

Adding Supplemental Lighting

            Your coop is full, yet your egg basket is empty or nearly empty again.  This is a common problem seen in the winter when egg production can slow down drastically or stop completely.  One of the ways that you can combat reduced egg production is to add supplemental lights to the coop.  There are a few ways that you can do this without breaking the bank.

Affordable Ways to Add Lights

            Supplemental lighting in the coop is different than using lights to heat the coop.  Heat lamps can be dangerous and are a fire hazard if not used carefully.  Also, heat lamps usually emit red light, which is not the proper light to stimulate egg production.  In order to stimulate egg production, you need to add lighting that mimics sunlight.  Avoid red, green or blue lights and stick with white lights.  Studies show that the intensity of lighting matters.  Use a light that’s at least 5.38 lumens.  The optimum lighting found in studies is 15 lumens.

            If you have electricity run out to your coop, then you’re ahead of the game.  A light fixture can be added to the roof of the coop.  Don’t allow the light to hang.  It should be well out of reach of curious chickens and should be well-fastened to the inside of the roof.  The same goes for the wiring for the light.  Make it easier on yourself and purchase a timer to attach to the light.  This way, you won’t have to worry about waking up in all hours of the night to stumble out to the coop and cut the lights on.  A cheap timer is well-worth it and often easier to program than a fancy, expensive timer.

            Don’t have electricity out to your coop?  You can run extension cords out to the coop for the time being until your coop has electricity.  You can even buy a timer that can be plugged in to your extension cord to turn the lights on and off for you.

            You should be able to purchase a cheap fixture, bulbs and any necessary wiring and timers for $20-$30.  If you want to invest a little bit more, you can consider solar powered lights or even solar power for your coop.  These have higher upfront costs but will save you money in the long run as they won’t run up your electric bill.

How to Add Supplemental Lighting

            Hens need anywhere from 12-16 hours of ‘sunlight’ to lay over the winter.  To stimulate egg production, it’s best to add lighting to the beginning of the day rather than the evening or split between the two.  When setting your timer, figure out when daylight occurs.  Work backwards and set the timer so that your hens are exposed to 12-16 hours of light.  As winter passes and the days start to get longer, adjust the lighting to come on later until eventually you don’t need it.

            Supplemental lighting can also come in handy over the summer.  If you need to investigate noise at night, you will be able to see easily with the flip of a switch.  Cleaning out the coop on dark, dreary days will also be easier with lighting in the coop.

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More about Shelby DeVore

Shelby is an agricultural enthusiast that shares her love of all things farming with her husband and two children on their small farm in West Tennessee. She is a former agriculture education teacher and is also the author of the blog Farminence, where she enjoys sharing her love of gardening, raising livestock and more simple living. You can see more of Shelby's articles at: www.farminence.com

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