As a chicken keeper, you may have heard that supplementing lighting in your coop can lead to increased egg production by the hens. However, before you decide to add artificial light to your coop, it’s important to consider the potential fire hazard and the effects on your chickens’ natural laying cycle. Instead of using traditional white light, consider using red light as a safer alternative.
The Risks of Supplementing Lighting in Your Chicken Coop
According to The Spruce, adding artificial lighting to your coop can be a fire hazard if the bulb is not properly installed and kept away from bedding. It’s also important to note that adding heat lamps to the coop is never a good idea, as it poses a significant risk to the birds.
How Natural Light Affects Your Chickens’ Laying Cycle
Hens naturally lay eggs when the days are long and slow down as the days grow short in winter. Daylight stimulates the pituitary gland, which triggers the hens’ ovaries to produce eggs. Therefore, hens lay when they have light – sunlight or artificial light – for at least 12 to 14 hours per day.
Respecting Your Chickens’ Natural Laying Cycles
If you follow a sustainable, natural approach toward farming, you may decide that respecting your birds’ natural laying cycles is important. Some chicken keepers believe that giving the hens a rest in the winter is important, choosing to deal with the lack of eggs during the shortest days of the year rather than using supplemental lighting. However, if you are producing eggs commercially, this might not be a viable option for your business plan.
A Safer Alternative: Red Light
Instead of using traditional white light to supplement lighting, consider using red light. Red light has been found to have a positive effect on chickens’ natural laying cycles while also reducing the risk of fire. According to research, red light can stimulate the pituitary gland just like white light, but it doesn’t disrupt the chickens’ natural circadian rhythm. This means that the hens will still get their rest at night and won’t become disoriented when the light suddenly shuts off.
How to Implement Red Light in Your Chicken Coop
To implement red light in your chicken coop, simply replace your white light bulb with a red one. A 40-watt red bulb suspended about 7 feet off the floor will provide enough light intensity to substitute for daylight in a small chicken coop of roughly 100 square feet (10 feet by 10 feet). For a larger coop of up to 200 square feet, use a 60-watt red light bulb. You can set a timer on the red light to create at least 14 hours of light throughout the day.
When setting your timer, extend the day in the morning rather than the evening, if possible. This is because if the coop light suddenly shuts off and it’s pitch black outside, the hens may become disoriented and not be able to find their roosts in the dark. If it’s already winter when you add the red light, don’t suddenly flood the chicken coop with brightness for 14 hours a day. Add light for 45 extra minutes a week until you’ve reached the optimal amount of time to have the lights on. Additionally, don’t keep the lights on around the clock. The hens need their beauty rest, too.
By using red light instead of traditional white light, you can safely supplement lighting in your chicken coop while respecting your birds’ natural laying cycles. Plus, you’ll reduce the risk of fire and create a more natural environment for your feathered friends.