Proper Lighting for Hens During the Winter

As summer days fade into the shorter days of fall, your laying hens may begin to lay less or stop laying altogether. Lighting is one of the most important factors in maximizing egg numbers and size of eggs.

How much light should an egg-laying hen receive?

Hens in production should ideally receive 17 hours of light per day, which can be accomplished through a lighting program in your hen house. Hens on this lighting program can begin laying and maintain lay throughout the fall and winter months.

Supplementing daylight in the fall and winter months

Whether your hens are receiving natural day length, or are on a lighting program of less than 17 hours per day, you can begin by adding 30 minutes of light weekly until you reach 16 hours per day. When 16 hours of light is reached, add 15 minutes weekly for 4 weeks until the optimum 17 hours is reached.

Remember, natural day length changes in the morning and evening, so it’s best to add AM and PM light. Typically, lights on at 4:30am and off at 9:30pm is ideal. To relieve the burden of manually turning lights on and off we recommend having your hen house light on a timer.

Lights in your laying house that are too bright could lead to pecking and flightiness. One 60-watt bulb for up to a 12-foot by 12-foot area is adequate.

For more information on caring for your flock, read our Guide to Raising Day-Old Chicks.