Are you new to keeping chickens and want to provide the safest and most productive methods for your backyard flock? We are working to answer all your chicken keeping questions and in this post we will look specifically at ‘do chickens need light at night.’
Light can help chickens at night in several ways, and can specifically aid in increasing egg production, but is not neccessary in the coop. You can see more below for the pros and cons of lighting your chicken coop.
After keeping chickens for over 12 years, we are experienced chicken keepers and will share everything we’ve learned from raising our own hens as well as extensive reading and research.
You can find more answers to your chicken keeping questions at the links below, and if you are new to chicken keeping we recommend starting here: Everything you Need to Know about How to Raise Backyard Chickens.
- Do Chickens Need Heat in the Winter?
- How to Keep Chicken Water From Freezing
- Do Chickens Need Water at Night?
Quick Answer: Do Chickens Need Light at Night?
No, chickens do not need light at night. Chickens naturally sleep during the night and due to their poor eyesite in the dark, they tend to be stationary. Chickens benefit from sleeping in the darkness. Alternately, if you are looking to increase winter egg production, many people choose to light their chicken coop for part of the night.
Why you Should Not Add Light to your Coop
Chickens, like most birds, naturally benefit from having periods of darkness at night. Here are some reasons why chickens benefit from not having light at night:
- Sleep and Rest: Chickens, like all animals, need uninterrupted sleep for their well-being. During the night, chickens use the darkness to rest, recover, and engage in essential sleep patterns. Sleep is crucial for their physical and mental health.
- Natural Circadian Rhythm: Chickens, like many creatures, have a natural circadian rhythm that is influenced by light and darkness. This rhythm helps regulate their internal processes, including hormone production, digestion, and overall health. Providing a period of darkness at night allows chickens to follow their natural biological clock.
- Reduced Stress: Complete darkness at night reduces stress in chickens. Exposure to artificial light during the night can disrupt their rest and cause stress, potentially leading to behavioral issues and decreased overall well-being.
- Reproductive Health: Chickens’ reproductive health can be negatively impacted by constant light exposure at night. It can lead to disrupted egg-laying patterns and, in some cases, may even contribute to health problems like ovarian cancer.
- Energy Conservation: In nature, chickens are adapted to conserve energy at night when they can’t forage or be active. Providing darkness allows them to rest and save energy for the daytime when they are more active.
- Behavioral Patterns: Darkness at night helps establish natural behavioral patterns in chickens, such as roosting, preening, and social interactions within the flock. These behaviors are essential for their overall mental and social well-being.
Why you May Want to Consider Adding Light to your Coop
Chickens typically do not benefit from having artificial light at night, and it’s generally recommended to provide them with a period of darkness during nighttime. However, there are a few situations in which providing light at night might be beneficial:
- Extended Egg Production: If you want to maximize egg production during the winter months when natural daylight is limited, providing supplemental light can help stimulate hens to continue laying eggs. Chickens require about 12-14 hours of daylight to lay eggs consistently, so adding light can extend their laying season.
- Predator Deterrence: In some cases, providing a low-intensity light in or around the coop can help deter nocturnal predators. The presence of light can make it less attractive for raccoons, owls, and other creatures that may pose a threat to your chickens.
- Behavioral Improvement: In rare instances, low-intensity light can help reduce stress and aggressive behavior among flock members. Chickens might be less likely to engage in harmful pecking or bullying when there is some ambient light in the coop.
How we Handle Light in our Coop
We do not add artificial light to our chicken coop. While we would love more eggs during the dark months of the year, we feel that the natural cycle where chickens stop laying eggs benefits the overall health of our chickens over their entire light.
While many people add lights as a way to heat the chicken coop, most chickens do not need additional heat. On the extremely rare occassions where we heat our coop, we prefer using a coop heater instead of a light. Lights often pose additional fire risk and there are better ways to heat your coop. Read more about heating your chicken coop.
Summary of ‘Do chickens need light at night?’
Based on our experience, chickens do not need light at night. If you are looking to specifically increase your egg production, you can consider adding light for a few hours, but we don’t recommend lighting your coop all night.
If you want to dig deeper into egg productions relationship with light, read a more in-depth study.
Other Questions about Keeping Chickens
Q: Do chickens require food at night? A: Chickens do not need food at night; they usually rest and roost during those hours.
Q: Do chickens sleep at night? A: Yes, chickens typically sleep at night, and they often roost together for warmth and safety.
Q: Do chickens benefit from exercise? A: Chickens can benefit from regular exercise, which supports their physical health and mental well-being.
Q: Is grit necessary for chickens? A: Yes, chickens do need grit as it aids in digestion by grinding down food in their gizzards.
Q: Is heat required for chickens in the winter? A: Sometimes, heat can be helpful in keeping chickens warm during the winter.