Of Chickens Eggs and LEDs

We have kept chickens for years.  Mostly for the eggs but I must admit we just like having them around.  Chickens are programmed to lay eggs in the summer and stop in the winter.  They will lay in the summer for a number of years if kept healthy.   The control for this is length of the day.  If you want eggs year-round, you just need to use a little trickery.   Just control the light in their environment to maintain a ‘day’ of 12-14 hours.  This is easily done with a light and timer.   Keep the daylight to 12-14 hours with the light and they think it’s still summer.  Simple right?

My chickens are kept in a building.  The lite bulb I used last year was burned out, so I replaced it this fall. Naturally, I replaced it with an LED bulb – warm-white, 100-watt equivalent.   Figured we would save a little electricity. 

As the days shortened, my second-year chickens egg production dropped.  By October, it stopped altogether.   Well, not completely altogether, we did get an egg every day or so, but it was less than one egg a day.  We started buying eggs at the store.   It had been a long time.  We were glad to see they still sold them!

We were baffled.   Same building; same feed; same breed…. nothing was different.  Had we purchased a bunch of chickens that only lay for a year?  We started experimenting.   Maybe the light was not strong enough.  I got a 200-watt equivalent soft-white LED.  No change.  I changed the timer to go from the usual 12 hours to 14.  Again, no change.  Could it be the LED itself?  So, I bought an old-fashioned 200-watt incandescent bulb.  Not easy to find these days.   Magic.   The next day two eggs.   In a week they were averaging four a day.  We hesitated to believe it could be that simple.   We kept waiting for them to revert.   But they continue to average four a day.  Eight hens; Second year; four a day – about right.  

So, if you have chickens, beware of LED lights.  This is based on my personal experience and not any kind of scientific study but at least in my very-very small, non-double-blind study, the LEDs are not supplying whatever the chickens need to decide the days are 12-14 hours long.  Specific wave lengths, light color, some non-visible wavelengths; I have no clue.  According to what I read LEDs should work.  I just know that my LED experiment saved electricity but cost me more than the savings by having to buy eggs.

I am curious if anyone else has had this experience.


Leave a Comment