Alternative to Heating with lightbulbs

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ReiMiraa, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. ReiMiraa

    ReiMiraa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Last year i used 5 red 250W light bulbs in my coops to help keep my chickens warm.

    They laid eggs better during the winter than they did this summer... they quit on me in the middle of summer.

    My coops are not insulated. they are dog kennels with tyvek wrapped around them.

    I now have 3 and the building that the electrics are hooked up to cannot handle the draw, even the extension cordes cannot handle the draw of over 10 lamps...

    So i have been researching different heaters. I was interested in a hanging radient... but the price is too high.

    So i thought about the ones on the GQF site

    am wondering if anyone has used this in an outdoor setting to keep the coop above 40* its a lower volt than having tons on lamps. For me electricity is cheap where i am...

    My concern is the safety of the light bulbs. last winter the birds kept breaking them somehow and we had a few electrical scares (mainly my chickens tried killing my boyfriend)

    yes eventually we plan to build a sectional permenant coop. when the money is available. generally my chickens are very hardy and some would roost in the trees last winter and wouldn't come in till below 20*... but i have more younger birds and turken hybrids.... that and mom is taking care of the flock while i am here at college.

    I figured if i could somehow keep the coop warm at 40. then the waterers might not freeze either. trying to figure out the logistics of 3 different coops to keep warm and watered in the winter is hard....

    we normally get a generous amount of snow and our share of below 20* days (in normal years)

    Any ideas on heating with a low budget are welcome. I also do deep litter in the winter, ammonia sometimes gets bad or even the bedding freezes solid, but sometimes it helps with generating heat.
  2. chfite

    chfite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    It seems to me that, your having reached the limit of your electrical transfer capacity, it would be cheaper and more effective in the long run to insulate the coop than to spend so much money on another type of heater. Moreover, insulation would reduce your current cost of heating. Generally speaking, the most effective start is to insulate the ceiling or roof. Unlike electricity for heat, insulation is bought only once.

  3. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    I agree with the previous post. I would insulate the ceiling if possible. If you are getting ammonia in the winter, you need more ventilation and the tyvek might be interfering with that. My tractor is insulated in the walls and we put insulation (hard foam cut to fit) in the ceiling. Deep litter method for the floor. We do not use lights. If you want to keep the water from freezing, you can build a cheap water heater. Look up cookie tin water heater on the forum. My dh built one for almost nothing and it worked very well all winter, even when it was -30. I would let the younger birds and turkens get used to the cold as it progresses. Chickens can handle cold pretty well as long as they have a place to get out of the wind and to roost. Have you used de in the litter during the winter? It helps the poop to dry and keeps things a little dryer. I found that the only time my litter froze was when there wasnt enough ventilation. I have since learned to leave the doors open all the time except when it was blowing snow or rain. Made for quite a difference. Hope this helps.
  4. stoopid

    stoopid Chicken Fairy Godmother

    Aug 3, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    Both good answers. You're running over 1,000 watts in there, after the cost of electricity, I would look into something better. And safer.
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    During brooding, out in the barn, for a month, in early spring, I've run less than that kind of wattage, yet the electric bill was horrid. I'd venture to guess that running 4 bulbs of 250 watts could easily pump your electric bill by $70-$80 a month. That is happening when your household electric winter heating costs are also high, well.....

    I love keeping chickens as both a hobby, a small business, and life enrichment, but costs like that would drive me to poor house quickly.

    I know you don't want to necessarily hear this, but heating is a frivolous expense and absolutely an elective choice. It is simply is not necessary in the first place, especially with your moderate temperatures. We all remember our folks yelling at us to turn off a light, saying, "We're not heating the great outdoors!!" Well, frankly, you are.

    Be glad to offer many ways for you to improve this situation, but humbly submit, you'd have to demonstrate a willingness to embrace change.
  6. greenpeeps

    greenpeeps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2009
    Greenford, Ohio
    I would spend the extra money a some bales of hay to surround the coop with and let be. I truly think that popping an egg out everyday earns you a small break in the winter. Take the lights out before something horrible happens.

    The heavy duty clearish ( it's not as clear as the box leads you to beleive) is a great barrier and allows natural light into the coop/yard and blocks the elements.



    Good Luck!
  7. RoosterRidge

    RoosterRidge Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2011
    Dry Fork, Va.
    You people amaze me on this site... Never have I met anyone with such a wonderful williness to give... I was so stupid to raising chickens and you guys have helped me so much... I worry about my 7 and 5 month old babies so much since it has turned cold... Our light bills were outrageous until we switched the heat lamps with regular bulbs... OK I must confess I was leaving the heat lights on because they would have a crying fit when I tryed to turn them off... But for awhile I would not let DH turn them off because I could not stand the crying... Sorry didn't mean to get off on a rant and make a long story out of this... Birds are tough little creatures and chickens are amazingly tough... If possible try using the deep litter it has worked wonders for us... That keeps the floor warmer and is so much easier to maintain... I was cleaning the coop every month and that was alot of work... With pine shavings and DE my life is much easier and I can enjoy the chickens so much more now... Just always be sure to use a mask when spreading the DE as it is not good for the lungs... I also make sure the chickens are free ranging when I add any DE and shavings... I don't want them inside when the cloud is coming up... I also do the same in the run, as I hide treats at night after they are locked in the coop... Each morning they come out and start scratching looking for whatever goodies I have hidden for them... We also built ladder roost for them so they really huddle on the roost even in the summer when we had fans in the windows they huddled... I have seen where some folks don't even have coops and they will roost it the trees... Just look at it this way if wild birds can survive the cold so can chickens... But believe me when I say I worry just as much now as I did when we first got them... On cold days I leave the 60 watt bulb on and it helps keep it warm in the coop... I read on hear awhile back that the heat is fine but when the power goes out and they loose body temp it is worst than them having no heat at all... Good luck to you...
  8. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
  9. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Instead of trying to figure out how to string heat lamps everywhere, to temporary cages and kennels, at horrid expense, your primary focus needs to a decent coop. A real coop, which you apparently do not have. A hodge-podge of fabric covered dog kennels and extension cords driving dangerous high wattage lamps is wholly inadequate. You've expanded your flock, kept chickens for over a year and yet, still have no real coop.

    That is the primary issue here. Let's not get lost in the heating/no heating, power consumption, better heaters and all the rest. As important/irrelevant as those issues may be, the central focus needed to have been securing a real coop. You are long, long overdue on addressing that. That is the best advice I can offer. I know you want the best for your chickens. I wish both them and you the very best.
  10. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    What would be best is for you to invest in a bunch of heated dog bowls for waterers, which you can plug into cold activated electrical adapters. Thermocubes, I think they're called. You can fill the dog bowls most of the way w/sand and put the waterer on top if you are concerned about freezing wattles.

    We get much colder for prolonged periods, and little breeds like d'Uccles and Silkies do fine here- unheated. I make sure there are no drafts, but plenty of ventilation. I give them a 'porch' with clear plastic from the rolls in the construction aisle (the 12' x100' 6 mil is usually most economical for multiple pens). This gives them a greenhouse during the day.

    If you allow them to experience the cold down to about 0*, they are better coated and prepared for it and do fine. We had weeks last year where it only heated up to the teens during the day, and my 15 runs of birds did very well- even the Seamas!

    Have faith in their natural design and give them the most comfort you can within the structures you give them and you'l all be fine- really!! Much cheaper that way, too.

    If you must heat- I prefer the flat panel gas heaters or the oil filled radiators. They retain heat because of the ballast the oil makes. They are not a fire hazard. Bulbs are just tooooooooo dangerous, and I've more chicken people who've started a fire with them around here than folks who haven't. Do a search for 'coop,' 'fire,' 'dead,' and 'lamp.' It's not pretty.

    Good luck.

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