Chickens will not lay eggs without the proper amount of light. This is why they molt in the fall and stop laying eggs in the winter. Their hormone system cycles works with the cycle of the sun. Chickens need 12 hours of light to kick the egg laying hormones into action. This year is the first time in the last 4 years I’ve used a light to kickstart my chicken’s egg production. The past three years I let the chickens rest through the winter. Most of my flock are spring hatched and their reproduction system doesn’t need a vacation. This winter I wanted to try the farmers tip of setting up a light in the chicken’s house. I waited till all the older hens had molted and fully feathered out. They had stopped laying eggs in August and started molting in September. I increased protein intake during molting to help with feather growth. The older hens look sleek and healthy by the end of November.
Three weeks ago I was getting one egg five days a week. I ran an outside electrical cord from our house to the pen, set up a barn light with a hundred watt bulb. I turn it on 5-8am, turn it off when the hens start free ranging around 9am. I turn the light back on from 4:30pm until around 8:30/9pm. Two weeks went by without any extra eggs. My Husband thought nothing was going to happen. I stressed patience, the old timers tips are based on actual production. A couple of days ago an extra egg was in our laying box, the next day 2 more eggs, today 8 eggs.
If you do want your hens to produce extra eggs in the winter, give them a break for molting, increase protein, let them have a month-long rest. Increase light to 12 solid hours a day. It really doesn’t matter when you start in the morning. Just make sure they get 12 solid hours of light. I have Fourteen hens, Buff Brahmas, English Cuckoo Marans, and a few mixed breed Bantams.