Winter Lighting - First winter with chickens

nhchicks(5)October 2, 2011

I'm going into my first winter with 20 chickens and am preparing to put up the coop lighting. I've got a bunch of questions so I do it correctly if someone can help :)

I know I need 14-15 hours so they keep laying, so I'm planning on turning it on about 2:00AM in the coop. Currently, my two older hens (8 months) have been laying their eggs when they are still on the roosts and I think it's because it's so dark inside that they can't see to get by the other 4 month old chickens and into the nesting boxes. I'm hoping this will eliminate that habit and they'll start using the boxes again?

I have a SECURE 12x16 run attached to the coop and have been leaving the exit door open for additional ventilation during the summer months. This also allows them to exit into the run once they wake. Should the run also be lit so they can continue this habit, or should I now be closing that door nightly so they have to stay inside for those additional 4-5 hours before I wake and open the door?

I currently have hanging food and water inside the coop as well as in the run. Should I continue the inside food so they have something to do and don't get bored especially if I start closing the door?

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The hens know what they have to do. We normally open the door when we get up, even in the winter, and they choose whether or not they leave. I know that when we get snow only the rooster will leave so we put food and water in the coop and let them do what they want.

My advice is to leave the small hen door up when its daylight out and close it when it gets dark. I know that only a few breeds of hens continue to lay in the winter so if you don't get many eggs don't worry. Their instincts and durance to cold will tell if they want to stay in bed or not.
Just make sure to break the ice on the water, if it gets that cold over there and that they have food.

I'm sorry I don't have any advice about your hens laying on the roost, none of our hens have ever done that before. I hope this helps some. Although I have to say the light is a really good idea. I never thought of that.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 3:28PM
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I would also close them out of the run at night. Feed & water them inside and put the light in there. No, they don't move much if it's dark, and that could be the problem. Give them more light & refresh the nesting material and they should start again.

I'm sure your pen is secure, but why invite hungry animals to test just how secure it is? Winter gets pretty lean around here, as it does in NH.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 6:36PM
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Thanks for your input!
I tried an experiment last night and put a battery powered motion detector light inside the coop.
This morning when I checked, both of the laying hens had layed their eggs in the nesting boxes instead of on the roosts!
Eureka..... lighting works!

Here is a link that might be useful: My Chicken Blog

    Bookmark   October 6, 2011 at 8:14AM
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happymomof6(lovely U.P.)

Good to know about the the light working!! One of my chickens have recently started laying on the roost also..... When I open the door in the a.m. (just starting to get light), there the egg is! I was thinking it was cuz she didn't want to move in the dark..... Gotta get the hubby moving and get that light hooked up!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 8:45AM
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