Winter Light Management for Home Laying Flocks
Caring for a small chicken flock can be a very rewarding experience but winter care can become confusing. Especially when it comes to winter lighting for continued egg production, so here are a few tips for lighting your hens this winter.
First, let’s discuss why we provide extra light in the winter. Hens lay eggs with increased day length and 14 to 16 hours is optimal for egg production. In the winter here in Union County, we fall below that light requirement so supplemental light has to be supplied to keep hens laying consistently into the winter.
You don’t need any special equipment to light your hens, a regular full spectrum incandescent or LED light bulb and a timer to turn it on and off will be fine. Set your timer to come on in the early morning before sunrise. I prefer morning lighting over evening because the gradually decreasing light at sunset lets your hens know it’s time to move into the coop and roost for the night.
Keep in mind that egg production puts a lot of stress on a hen’s body and winter is a good time for your hens to take a rest from laying, so my suggestion would be if you decide you would like to push your hen egg production into the winter provide supplemental light to your chickens until January 1. At that time you can stop using lights and let your chickens rest until spring.
If you are new to keeping chickens let me say that supplemental lighting during winter is not necessary but it’s a tool you can use to keep your hens laying during the winter.