Do Heat Lamps Create Nightowls?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NeilV, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. NeilV

    NeilV Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 15, 2010
    Tulsa, OK
    We had a cold spell, and I started keeping a red heat lamp on all night in the coop. My coop has a window, and you can see inside from my bedroom. When the light was on, the chickens were hanging out and not really going to sleep until about 10:00 pm. Sort of like a trip to Vegas for the peeps.

    We had a really warm day, and yesterday I let the chickens out to forage in the yard at about 3:00 p.m. They have not been allowed out to forage very much lately, and they were very happy birds. We have a street light sort of light in the backyard, so even after dark it is not pitch black. In the past, when it got dark, the chickens would put themselves up and then I could lock the coop.

    This time, 45 minutes after dark, I'm still hanging out with the peeps in the backyard. They were running around like it was noon. I'm not sure if they ever would have gone home to roost. And catching chickens in the dark is a pain, as it turns out.

    I'm not totally sure that the heat lamps changed their behavior. They may have just been happy to have warm weather and finally be allowed out for an extended period. However, it seems like they forgot about the whole going to bed thing after being kept up by a heat lamp.

    Has anybody else ever seen this happen after using a heat lamp? While it seems like a reasonable thing to use when it is very cold, it seems like maybe it is also hard on the birds in other ways. Any ideas?
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  2. Cacciatore

    Cacciatore Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2011
    San Pablo, CA
    Personally I don't think heat lamps are necessary for grown chickens. They adapt very well to very cold conditions. They fluff up their feathers, huddle together and can stand extreme cold. Wild birds don't have heat lamps and they do quite well. The danger is their combs and wattle can get frostbite. You can help with this if it gets that cold by applying petroleum jelly to the comb and wattles.

    Another thing to think about is that if your chickens get used to the warmer nights, then one night a cold snap knocks the electricity out and your heat lamp goes out, your chooks won't have adapted to the cold and it could be big trouble for them. Just some thoughts. [​IMG]
  3. gordonburrito

    gordonburrito Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 4, 2010
    I don't like the idea of my girls getting frostbite. For me that's a big deal and it absolutely under no circumstances will be happening to my flock if I can prevent it. We found that heat lamps directly in the roost area (even orange ones) lead to earlier morning wake ups. The orange ones less so than the others (4-5 am vs a loud egg song at 2-3 am...followed by confused cackling). Heat lamps are also quite dangerous compared to other options and keep the coop too warm at night in most situations (for my coop anyway). For example, if the outside temperature is 22 degrees F their sleeping area will be at balmy 55-60 degrees F. They don't like it that warm.

    So, my alternative is this. We have an undersized (for the size of the space) flat panel coop heater. It never really gets hot enough that you can't touch it. It is mounted in the sleeping area of the coop. We have a temperature based outlet that only comes on if temperatures dip below freezing. I have a remote thermometer to monitor the temperature of the area that our girls sleep in. With this heater the temperature stays a little above freezing the entire night. So, the daytime free range temperatures they are accustomed to are very similar to those they sleep in minus wind and other unpleasantries. They don't get the wild temperature drops at night that they would with no heater. I have noticed that on the coldest of nights (3 coldest nights per winter) I did "need" put the heat lamp on to reach my temperature goals. It seems once our coop drops below 0 F, we start losing a lot more heat than we would at 1 F to 34 F. I will be investigating some other insulating options for next winter which should eliminate the need for this entirely. During the day that flat panel heater is still on (if the temp inside is less than 34 degrees) and it provides a "warm up station" for the girls. Usually they are in the covered run or outside all day but occasionally I will find one of my girls parked near the heater taking a nap.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011
  4. Lisa202

    Lisa202 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2010
    Long Island NY
    Quote:[​IMG] Mine are doing the same thing!!! I can see in the coop at night and they are just hanging out.

    I had put the red flood light (60 watt) in when we had really frigid weather a while ago and since they were only in their young teens, I felt that I should help them this year. Then I read that since I have done this, I now can't turn it off b/c they're used to it and I didn't acclimate them right.

    I've heard about taking a coffee can and putting a light bulb in it, but I'm not crazy about the idea of that on the floor. At least my bulb is hanging from the ceiling and away from everything.

    I am also worried about they're sleeping habits, but this just won't go away and let me turn it off. I will be turning if off as soon as it stays around 30 degrees all the time...if that EVER happens.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2011

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