We feel strongly that a natural slow down in productivity gives our chickens bodies a chance to recharge and keeps them healthier in the long run. We are aiming for longevity in our egg layers, so this makes the most sense to us. We feel that natural is best, and if our chickens bodies naturally slow down in the winter months who are we to mess with that cycle? There is research to suggest that if their bodies are not given a rest in the winter months, there is a much higher chance of ovarian cancer and reproductive issues. Many of the very high production birds out there end up dying due to reproductive issues.
This doesn't meant that we won't have eggs at all for the winter. Choosing breeds that are known to lay well through the winter are an excellent addition to a flock. Some of these breeds are Black Australorps, Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshires, Delawares, Sussex, Wyandottes, and Plymouth Rocks.
The decision to light a coop or not is one that every chicken keeper must make for themselves. You must also think of your goal for your flock. Are you planning on replacing your layers every two years or are you keeping them until they stop laying or even until they die of old age? If you are simply replacing your layers every two years, most of the health risks for the chickens do not apply. But if you are aiming for long term egg productivity and healthy birds, you may want to consider not lighting your coop.