Why Do Chickens Need Red Light – 6 Main Reasons

Why Do Chickens Need Red Light - 6 Main Reasons
Baby Chickens

Why Do Chickens Need Red Light. Red light is necessary for chickens for performing the different functions in the chickens.

Why Do Chickens Need Red Light / Benefits

There are the following benefits of the red light for the chickens:

Light Triggered – Increased Egg Production:

Egg production slows way down at this time of year because of the decreased daylight and the fact that chickens tend to go through their annual molt in the late fall.

Light For Egg Production in winter

Light and Reproductive Triggers

Photoperiod is essential in manipulating sexual maturity and reproductive performance in avian species. Photoreceptors can perceive light in the retina of the eye, pineal gland, and hypothalamus. However, the relative sensitivity and specificity of each organ to wavelength, and consequently, the physiological effects, may differ.

Red / Green / White Light Experiments

This experiment Opens in a new tab.tested the impacts of light wavelengths on reproduction, growth, and stress in laying hens maintained in cages and to determine whether the retina of the eye is necessary. Individual cages in 3 optically isolated sections of a single room were equipped with LED strips providing either pure green, pure red, or white light (red, green, and blue) set to 10. The retina’s involvement in mediating the effects of light wavelength was assessed using a naturally blind line of chickens. Red and white lights resulted in higher estradiol concentration after photostimulation, indicating stronger ovarian activities, which translated into a significantly lower age at first egg compared with the green light.

12 Ways to Make Money by Chicken Farming—Extensive Guidelines for Chicken FarmersOpens in a new tab.

Similarly, hens maintained under red, and white lights had a longer and higher peak production and higher cumulative egg number than hens under green light. No significant difference in BW gain was observed until sexual maturity. However, from 23 wk of age onward, birds exposed to green light showed higher body growth, which may be the result of their lower egg production.

Why Do Chickens Need Red Light

Although corticosterone levels were higher at 20 wk of age in hens under red light, concentrations below can be considered indicative of stress. Because no significant difference was observed between blind and sighted birds maintained under red and white light, the retina of the eye did not participate in the activation of reproduction.

Hens need about fourteen hours of light a day to produce eggs, and in many areas of the country, the sun is only giving about eight hours of light in these winter months. Since most chickens trace their heritage back to equatorial regions, their systems are not adapted to continuing egg production in winter light.

A lamp on the timer in the early mornings and evenings will help keep your ladies in the regular flow of things and keep your basket full of eggs.

Red Light vs Green Light


In summary, the red light was required to stimulate Opens in a new tab.the reproductive axis. In contrast, the green light was ineffective, and the effects of stimulatory wavelengths do not appear to require a functional retina of the eye.

How Much Light do Chickens need to Keep Laying at Top Speed?

Hens need at least 12 hours of daylight per day to lay eggs. At the same time, 14 to 16 hours of sunlight per day will keep them performing at their full potential.

Why Do Chickens Need Red Light

A Little Bit Warmer During the Winter Months: Hypothermia

Sometimes, especially in extreme climates, a coop light can help keep your chickens stay a little bit warmer during the winter months.

 Heat lamps are used to keep baby chicks warm when they first arrive at you from a hatchery and can be used to keep hens warm in winter. Along with providing much-needed light for baby chickens to see their way around an unfamiliar brooder, in many cases, a brooder’s heat lamp also acts as its source of light. In this case, the brooder’s heat lamp should not be shut off at night, as this will remove the chicks’ only source of heat.

Newly Hatched Chicks Have No Feathers

Because they don’t have feathers for the first few weeks of life, baby chickens cannot easily regulate their baby temperature. Newly hatched chicks depend on a constant heat source from a lamp if they aren’t kept with a mother hen.

Signs of hypothermia in a baby chicken include the following:

  • Legs that are cold to the touch
  • Legs that are puffy or swollen
  • Lethargy/inactivity
  • Loss of appetite
  • High-pitched distress cheeping.
Why Do Chickens Need Red Light

Turning off the lamp over your brooder at night can lead to your chicks becoming chilled and possibly dying. Baby chickens are biologically designed to have their heat regulated by their mother’s protective down, and without this body heat, they will quickly turn hypothermic.

A cold chick cannot digest food properly and will be too weak to seek out water. A chick weakened by cold is also more likely to be trampled and killed by other chicks, because it will not have the strength to move out of their way.

 Chickens are very hardy and covered in fluffy feathersOpens in a new tab., so the temperatures have to be very low to require such supplemental heat. Some chicken experts recommend a temperature around 40 degrees as ideal for hens.

Heat lamps for chicken Heating

The Danger of Chicks Getting Cold:

Besides becoming hypothermic and dying, even if chicks survive becoming too cold by being reintroduced to heat before death, this bout of hypothermia will often stunt their growth and development. Chicks that become bitter end up with suppressed immune systems and often fail to thrive, more likely to be taken down by illness days or weeks after chills.

When an entire group of chicks is too cold, they will huddle up together instinctively to share warmth. This can lead to weaker, smaller chicks being trampled underfoot by their larger, more aggressive siblings.

These weaker chicks can either become suffocated by their siblings and die or sustain life-threatening injuries like broken legs. Once a chicken has broken a limb, it is often very difficult for the baby chick to survive the injury.

Thus, it is vital that if you are using a heat lamp as your source of light in a baby chicken brooding pen, this light should stay on 24 hours a day up until the point that the chicks are feathered out and ready to introduced to the coop outdoors.

Chicks and Temperature Management

Best Way to Light a Chicken Coop:

Many chicken experts have found that red lights are the best way to light a chicken coop. The idea is that the subtle light of a red bulb helps to keep your girls calm.

Keep in mind that hens do not perceive red light as daylight. So adding such a bulb to your hen house will not work for increased egg production.

Because it’s not perceived as daylight, chickens can be exposed to red light 24/7 with no ill effects. Theories around that red lighting prevent chickens from being able to differentiate combs and wattles, which helps prevent hen-pecking and cannibalism. While these are unproven, the potential benefits may outweigh the possible negative effects, especially since red will not have the other effects of chickens that white light has.

One good reason to keep your coop lit on a timer or with an easy access switch is your ability to see your chores as you are taking care of the hens. If you have a day job or just need to get the chicken chores out of the way in the morning, you will want some additional light to make sure you have found all the eggs, provided enough feed and water, and to see for an accurate headcount. You don’t need to keep it on longer than you are going about your business, so the effects on the hens in minimal.

Need to Find Food and Water at Night

After being hatched from an incubator or shipped from a hatchery, for the first 24 to 72 hours of life, chicks raised on their own without a mother need to figure out how to find their food and water.

Chicks during this stage of development are very fragile, and it is easy for a chick to become hungry or dehydrated, especially if it is weakened from hatching or is just generally weaker than its clutch-mates.

Chickens have terrible night vision, so once the light goes out, chicks are generally unable to find their way around a brooder. This means that if you leave the lights off for eight hours or more, chicks who have not had a chance to find their food and water will become desperately hungry and thirsty.

To make sure that chicks can learn where their feeders and waters are for the first few days, be sure to leave a light on them.

That’s why, when they are not sleeping, chicks can explore freely and can see what they are doing.

If you are using a heat source other than a light, just make sure that chicks have access to a regular day/night light cycle, developing normal sleeping and waking patterns.

Do Chickens Need Darkness? Install a Timer

If you leave a light on for 24 hours straight in your chicken coop, your flock will recognize it as sunlight and not get the restful sleep.

Such a dramatic shift to a chicken’s natural biorhythms can lead to stress, which can result in behavioral changes, hen-pecking, and even cannibalism.

Chickens Need 6-8 Hours Every day

Your chickens require 6 to 8 hours of sleepOpens in a new tab. every day to maintain their immune system.

So just as much as they need light to lay eggs, your chickens need darkness to sleep and recharge.

Does it disturb the chickens to keep a red heating light in their coop when it gets cool?

It’s not the heat that will lower egg production during winter; it’s the shorter daylight days. If you need them to keep laying during the winter, you will need to add more light.

Some people put a light on a timer to come on 2 hours before sunrise and 2 hours after sunset. Personally, do not provide any extra light.

Baby chickens with their hen do not need a night light:

Under normal circumstances, baby chicks are protected by and provided for by their mothers. Chicks in this natural situation are typically raised in the coop or within a sequestered area of the coop (typically a brooder crate) and do not require lights or additional heat in the coop.

Why Do Chickens Need Red Light

Many farmers have lights in their coops that beckon the chickens at dusk to come inside. However, many coops are not lit, and the baby chickens raised in them by their mothers do just fine.

This is because the mother hen can communicate vocally to her chicks to keep them gathered together. The chicks will naturally gather under the hen for warmth.

Chicken Sleeping / Roosting

Incubator Raised Chicks

However, many people who raise baby chickens choose to raise them by hand from a hatchery or even hatch the chicks themselves in an incubator. Unlike chicks raised by a hen, these hand-raised chicks need a constant source of warmth.

Typically, a heat lamp is used. This provides the chicks with the warmth they need as well as keeps their area slightly illuminated.

Are Baby Chickens Afraid of the Dark?

Since they are so new to the work, baby chickens can be insecure and uncertain about their environment, especially in the first few days after hatching.

Since turning a light off abruptly does not mimic the gradual natural fading of the light when the sun goes down, the sudden change from light to dark can be very starting to baby chicks. They will often cause a volley of frightened peeping if you turn the lights off all at once.

Besides not wanting to scare the poor little things, it is better not to turn the lights off abruptly for safety reasons. Panicked chicks cannot be seen in the dark and will often huddle together widely to feel safe. This may lead to weaker chicks being trampled under their brothers and sisters and even suffocated.

Family Sized Chicken Farm Egg Calculator

Number of ChickensNumber of Eggs / DayNumber of Eggs / WeekNumber of Eggs / MonthNumber of Eggs / YearFamily Size$ Value = .30 / Egg
How Many Chickens Do I need to Provide Eggs For my Family
Per Day / Per Week / Per Month / Per Year / Dollar Value

Rare Breed Chicken Farming

Rare BreedsCountry of OriginEggs/WeekAverage WeightPrice / Chicks
Black PenedesencaSpain3-44-5lbs$ 13.43
Black SumatraSumatra4 / Tinted in Color4lbs$ 4.56
AmeraucanaUnited States / Chile3 / 4 Blue5 lbs$ 4.25
Lavender OrpingtonEngland4 / 5 Brown 5 lbs$ 6.08
Partridge ChanteclerCanada3-5 / Brown7 lbs
WyandotteUnited States3 - 5 / Tinted Brown6 lbs$ 4.90
WelsummerWelsum Netherlands4 / Dark Brown5 lbs$ 5.95
Silver Grey DorkingUK / Roman8 lbs$ 5.95
Light BrahmaUnited States / ChinaBrown13 lbs$ 4.90
Silver Laced Cochin / ShanghaiChina5-6 / Brown6 lbs$ 4.90
White MaransMarans / France4 / Dark Brown5 lbs$ 6.08
DominiquesUnited States4 - 5 / Brown 7 lbs$ 4.90
Exchequer LeghornTuscany ItalyWhite5 lbs$ 4.25
Silver Spangled Appenzeller
Switzerland54 lbs
Buff Brahma StandardShanghai ChinaBrown13 lbs$ 4.90
Silver Laced PolishPoland / Netherlands4-5 lbs$ 5.95
White Sultan / Fowls of the SultanTurkey2 - 3 / White 4-6 lbs$ 7.75
Mottled HoudanHoudan Paris FranceWhite4 - 5 lbs$ 7.75
Dong Tao / Dragon ChickenVietnam2/3$ 2500 -
Ayam CemaniIndonesia3 / Cream 5 lbs$ 50 - $ 2500
Onagadori / Honorable ChickenJapan$ 49.00
PolveraraItaly2 / 3
IxworthSussex UK4 / Cream
Naked Neck / Transylvanian Naked-Neck chickens.Transylvania5$ 4.25
CampaignBelgium7 / White5 lbs$ 7.75 / Golden
Deathlayer / German7 / White$ 99.00
Serama / Smallest Chicken in the WorldThailand.5 - 1 Lb$ 39.00
Silkie / SilkyChinese2 / Cream$ 5.75 / White $ 5.75 / Blue $ 5.75 / Buff
$ 5.75 / Black
Pricing is buying 1 Chick - Bulk gives better prices - they are also only available during a special date ranges

Types of Chicken Breeds

Chicken BreedsOriginMeat/ Layers / Dual PurposeFinished WeightEggs per WeekWeeks to Slaughter
Canada/US/EuropeMeat3.3 lbs514 Weeks
Cornish crossesOpens in a new tab.EnglandMeat6.5 - 8.5 lbs38 - 9 Weeks
Jersey GiantsOpens in a new tab.USAMeat ( Intended to replace Turkeys)13 lbs48 - 9 Months
Hertigage Breeds6 - 9 months
DelawareUSA DelawareDuo6.5 lbs4 - large8 Months
DorkingUnited KingdomDuo10 - 14 lbs5 - med5 Months
BuckeyeUSA OhioDuo6 - 9 lbs4 - med5 Months
Rhode Island RedUSA Rhode Island Duo6 b- 8 lbs5-65 Months
LeghornItalyEggs4 -5 lbs48 Months
Plymouth RockUSA - MassachusettsDuo7.5 lbs45 Months
SussexUnited KingdomDuo7 lbs4 - 5 - large5 Months
WyandotteCanadaDuo7 - 9 lbs5 Months
WelsummerNetherlandsDuo7 lbs4 / Week5 Months
HamburgUnited KingdomEggs7 lb4 - med9 weeks
Black AustralorpAustraliaDuo\3 - 5 lb5 - med5 months
Buff OrpingtonEngland Duo7 - 8 Lbs4 - 58 months
BrahmaMeat11 lbs3 - med5 monthss
Name of Breed
Meat Breeds
Laying Breeds
Dual Purpose Breeds

Chicken / Poultry Breeder Associations

Rabbit AssociationLocationLink
US Poultry & Egg AssociationUnited StatesUSPAOpens in a new tab.
American Poultry AssociationCaliforniaAPAOpens in a new tab.
Ohio Poultry AssociationOhioOPAOpens in a new tab.
National Chicken CouncilUnited StatesNCCOpens in a new tab.
British Poultry CouncilUnited KingdomBPCEOpens in a new tab.
Poultry Club of Great BritainUnited KingdomPCGBOpens in a new tab.
Association of Poultry Breeders in EUEuropeAVECOpens in a new tab.
Australian Chicken Meat Federation IncAustraliaACMFOpens in a new tab.
Australian Poultry HubAustraliaPoultry HubOpens in a new tab.


Chickens do not need Red Light, But for commercial Farming. It helps trigger higher Egg Laying Abilities in their Hens. It is a good way to light a chicken coop, it can provide supplementary heat. Especially in Baby Chicks.

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