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Do chickens need a light at night?

If you’re a backyard chicken keeper or thinking about keeping chickens, you might have come across information about night lights for chickens.

It can be tempting when setting up a new coop to have every gadget and piece of equipment which a chicken may possibly need, but when it comes to lighting is there any benefit to the chickens to have one in their coop?

In short, chickens don’t need a light in their coop, because they instinctively know that when it goes dark its time to roost. Using lighting can disrupt a chicken’s natural body clock so it’s better for the health and well-being of the chicken to allow them to roost naturally in the dark.

Read on to find out more about how light can affect chickens’ laying routines and in what circumstances can a coop light be useful.

When to use lighting in a chicken coop

Although there’s no need to have a light in a chicken coop there are some circumstances when a temporary light or torch can be useful, these include:

1. Using a light to guide chickens into the coop

When you get chickens for the first time or you’re moving chickens into a new coop they will usually find their way into the coop when it goes dark and it’s time to roost.

There are exceptions to this rule and sometimes new chickens can be a little disorientated and might not realize where they need to go to roost.

Chickens don’t have night vision, so once the light drops they will stay still wherever they happen to be at the time.

This article was first published on November 10, 2020 by Pentagon-Pets..

Shining a light or placing a small light or torch inside the coop will help the chickens to see where they need to go to roost and will enable them to hop up on the roosting bars.

Once the chickens have settled, the light should be turned off and removed so they can get a full night of rest.

This tip is especially useful for ex-battery (or ex-caged) hens who have been used to artificial lighting outside of normal roosting hours.

2. Checking chickens are in the coop before you close it

If you have a flock of chickens who free-range during the day you might find that certain individuals go into the coop to roost earlier than others.

In this case, it’s useful to have a light to hand so you can do a quick headcount to make sure every chicken is back inside the coop before you close it up for the night.

3. Using a coop light with an automatic coop door

An automatic coop door can be really useful if you’re not always around at the times when chickens need to be shut inside the coop for the evening or to let them out in the morning.

The first few times you use an automatic coop door it can be a worry not knowing whether all the chickens have gone inside the coop before the door closes. Using a small light which is set to a timer which will come on before the coop door is due to close helps to entice the chickens into the coop.

The Omlet Autodoor can be used in conjunction with a coop light and has an inbuilt timer and light sensor.

Image of the Omlet coop light
Image credit omlet.co.uk (permission given)

Will chickens sleep with a light on?

Just like humans and pretty much any animal, chickens won’t sleep properly if there’s a light on. When its dark a chicken can’t see so it won’t be tempted to move around the coop, whereas if it’s light they can get up and about and this can prompt behaviour problems such as pecking other chickens.

Their natural body clock works in line with natural light and will change throughout the year depending on the season. Chickens are hardwired to roost when it’s dark because dark brings danger.

Just like us, a chickens body needs a good night of rest to aid natural body functions and rhythms and they won’t get the full benefit of a healthy sleep unless the coop is dark during nighttime hours.

Do chickens need light to lay eggs?

When chickens are farmed commercially for eggs they use unnatural light which helps to produce a higher egg yield from the chickens so they’re always productive and financially viable for the farm.

Chickens need a full day of daylight to enable them to stay in a steady rhythm of egg-laying, which is why it’s normal for many chicken owners to see a drop in egg production during the winter months.

This doesn’t mean they always stop completely, but it’s just normal to see some slow down, especially if the weather is very cold.

I’m writing this post in mid-November and at the moment our chickens are going into roost at around 5 pm when the light is nearly gone. From seven (three of which are ex-commercial) hens we’re still seeing around five or six eggs per day with no signs of slowing down.

I would expect to see more of a drop in egg production in mid-December when the days are the shortest, this will only be temporary and things will go back to normal as the days start to get longer and there’s more light.

Image of chickens in the snow

For chicken keepers who only use eggs for personal use, a lower egg yield for two or three months is just one of those things which happens. It’s a natural part of their cycle and chickens need their rest too, so there really is no need to create a false environment if you don’t have to.

Do chickens need windows in their coop for light?

Chickens don’t need a window in their coop because they will go into the coop when it’s dark and roost until daylight.

During the day chickens will choose to be outdoors grazing or spending time in the run unless they need to go inside to lay.

A window in a coop does not add any benefit to chickens so don’t worry if your coop doesn’t have any and likewise having a window won’t impact the chickens either.

Pentagon Pet is the owner of this article was first published on November 10, 2020..

Related posts

I hope this post has helped you to find out what you need to know about using lighting in a chicken coop. You might also find the following post useful to find out more about chickens’ natural body-clock:

What time do chickens go into the coop to roost?

What do chickens eat naturally when they graze?

Can chickens eat bread or should it be avoided?

Chickens eating eggs – why they do it and how to stop it

This article and its contents are owned by Pentagon Pets and was first published on November 10, 2020..

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