We began lighting our chicken coop a week ago. We installed compact fluorescent bulbs in the rafters above the covered run and the hen house. The lights shine through the hardware cloth ceiling to the run below. With this arrangement there is very little chance that the coop will catch fire.
Coop fires happen too frequently. Many farmers use wood shavings, hay and straw as bedding materials, which will make any coop a tinder box. It's important to be very cautious when lighting or heating a chicken coop.
Our lights are set on a timer to turn on at 4 am and off at 7 am. This extends the day for the hens to about 13 hours of light, which is roughly the equivalent of daylight in April. We hope this is enough light to stimulate egg production. We chose to not extend the light in the evenings because this confuses the birds regarding bedtime. If the lights shut off suddenly at 9 pm, it will be too dark for the girls find their way to the roost.
We'll stop using the lights as the spring progresses. We plan to resume lighting later in the year, but not until after the girls have a chance to molt. If we begin lighting too early in the fall, it may cause the hens to delay their molt until mid-winter when it is dangerously cold weather. Instead, we'll allow the girls to have a natural rest in the fall, and begin lighting again after the winter solstice.
The new schedule has been working reasonably well. The girls are up early in the morning, scratching and feeding in their coop. But the last week has been a strange transition for them. They've gone to bed at 4 pm in spite of the continuing day light. I think they're tired out with the sudden extension of their day. Perhaps they need their beauty sleep!
Still....no eggs yet.