However there are two schools of thought on this topic (as there is with much of raising chickens). Neither view is necessarily right or wrong.
Personally, we don't add light in our coop. Light bulbs are a fire hazard in a wooden coop filled with dry straw. Even a tiny drop of water can shatter a light bulb, leaving sharp shards on the floor to cut little feet. Shatter-proof, Teflon-coated bulbs emit noxious fumes that will kill your chickens, as has been recently reported on the news and in the various chicken magazines.
|~which to choose? keep reading~|
Instead, so we don't run out of eggs once production slows and have to buy store bought eggs (BLECH!), I freeze any excess eggs during the glut of summer laying to use through the winter [read more here...]
They are not only perfect for holiday baking, but also scramble up just fine. We also get new chicks each spring that start laying in early fall. Generally pullets will lay pretty well through their first winter without any added light.
- You can use incandescent or flourescent bulbs, but if using flourescent, choose a 'warm' wavelength bulb to better mimic sunlight
- Bulb/socket needs to be well-secured so a flapping chickens can't dislodge it or break it
- Don't position the light anywhere near a water source, to prevent the bulb from shattering
- Consider using a timer so you don't have to remember to turn the light on and off - if you turn the light off manually, be consistent with the times you turn it off
- Ideally, the additional light should be added in the morning hours, pre-dawn, not some in the morning and some in the evening. Chickens don't see well in the dark at all and you don't want your light switching off after dark suddenly and leaving hens stranded and disoriented when the light goes off instead of comfortable on their roosts. (Although a dimmer can be installed so the light gradually diminishes in the evening in which case adding a bit in the morning and a bit in the evening, or all in the evening is fine)
- A very low wattage bulb will provide enough light, 25 - 40 watt, or even a nightlight might be sufficient in a smaller coop
- DO NOT use bulbs labeled 'Teflon-coated', 'Tefcoat', 'Rough Surface', 'Protective Coated' or "Safety Coated' - TEFLON, when heated, creates fumes that can be fatal to your hens. Sadly, these bulbs are still on the market, some marked with warnings, some not.
- Consider instead cutting more vents and openings in your coop (cover them with 1/2" hardware cloth to prevent predators from gaining access) to provide more natural light which can help to extend the laying season a bit and also get your hens started laying again sooner in the spring (see below also for another way to add more natural light)
- Don't decide to add light and then change your mind and stop lighting the coop because it can throw your entire flock into a molt - which is NOT what you want in the dead of winter. Decide what you will do and stick with it all winter
- Although you may be tempted to put a heat lamp or other light in your coop 24/7 through the winter, be aware that when spring comes and you turn it off, the chickens, used to 24 hour 'days', might perceive shorter days and stop laying
Here's another clever idea to help add more natural light to your coop from our Pinterest board DIY Chicken Stuff.
This post is shared at Little House in the Suburbs