Owning a few hens means fresh eggs year-round, or mostly so. Egg-laying slows or stops due to the diminished amount of daylight during winter months. Providing artificial light during the season effectively tricks your hens into continued production. Hens need at least 14 hours of light to produce. Providing a 40-watt bulb per 100 square feet of coop should help your chickens continue laying.
Decide when you need to supplement light. Hens need a minimum of 14 hours of daylight, so plan on supplementing light for six or seven months.
Measure the inside dimensions of the coop using a tape measure to determine the number of lights you'll need to distribute adequate light. Calculate square-footage by multiplying the length of the coop's floor space by its width. A coop that's 10 feet by 10 feet is 100 square feet. That means you can use one 40-watt bulb in the coop.
Install the lights if you are handy, or have an electrician do it. You'll want to use a light bulb that has emits a warm -- orange or red -- spectrum over a blue or cooler bulb because the warmer light stimulates the hen's body to lay eggs.
Incorporate a timer if you desire. Some backyard chicken owners leave the lights on all the time; others regulate the lights manually. Using a timer takes away risk of forgetting and allows the hens a darkness cycle. If you use a timer, be sure to have it synchronized to provide light in the early, dark part of the morning so the chickens can rest more in the evening.
- Be sure to check your bulbs frequently and replace failed ones.
- Make sure no dark spots exist in the coop while the lights are on.
- Keep the bulbs away from flammable materials to limit risk of fire.
- If you don't know how to wire lighting, have a licensed electrician wire the lighting.
hen image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com