To keep our chickens laying all winter long, we do something that many other homesteaders don’t. I’m talking about keeping lights on in a chicken coop over winter.
A chicken needs a certain number of daylight hours to lay, and during the winter, they don’t get that.
So, should you worry about lights in a chicken coop?
We choose to add artificial light to keep them laying. Now, I know what people say about raising animals naturally, and giving the girls a laying break and all, but I am going to lay out the reasons why we do this.
The chickens are part of our family, but everyone here has to pull their weight.
They continue to eat feed all winter long, as well as use straw for bedding, drink water that requires heating, and they still need us to take care of them. I personally can’t fathom the idea of feeding them all winter, AND having to go buy eggs. Since they can’t forage for bugs and other feed with ice and snow on the ground, they eat more. At the rate of $15 a bag of feed per week, that just doesn’t add up economically for us.
We use a timer, and don’t have to “remember” to shut off the lights.
We are also only adding about 4 hours of artificial light to their day, and 2 hours of that is in the mornings. The risk of fire is there, but it’s also there when you turn on a light in your home. Do you not use lights in your bedroom due to that risk? It’s minimal, and since our light isn’t where the chickens can “peck” at it or bump it, I am not worried. You can get the timer we use here from our affiliate partner.
I raise our animals as naturally as possible, and I DO care about my girls.
It’s just that we have decided that after 2-3 years, they are no longer needed for laying and become dinner themselves. They live a happy, productive life before they are butchered, and I am okay with having to cull our flock each fall.
So, if you want to keep a light on in your coop to keep your chickens laying all winter, by all means, go ahead.
Just remember to keep it on a timer (they are at hardware stores all over, in the Christmas lights section mainly) and don’t add more than 5-6 hours of artificial light. And enjoy your eggs all year long!