Do I need a heat lamp in the winter?


10 Years
Apr 2, 2009
Hi there.

I live in South East Michigan. I have six chickens, 2 silver laced wyandottes, 1 buff orpington, 2 easter eggers, 1 silkie rooster.

Winter will be here before I know it and it got me thinking about how they are all going to stay warm enough in the winter.

Do I need to put a heat lamp in their hen house? A regular light bulb in the heat lamp? Do they need anything at all?

Also, what is the proper way to vent the coop in the winter?

Thank you.

Here are some pics of the run and coop (the chickens pictured are now full grown):






I would say yes except the one time I gave my chickens a heat lamp, one hen burned her feathers off! Heat lamps can be dangerous!
This has been debated quite a bit here. There are some people from colder places than you, that say no heat lamps. The main reason is that if you keep the coop warm, they won't develop the thick down that they need to keep themselves warm while outside, and if the power fails. The main thing is to keep the humidity down with proper ventilation, but avoid having any drafts. Put a thermometer inside the coop (so you can read it through a window) and you will see that, especially with a smaller coop, they keep it much warmer than outside. If you are concerned about extremely cold nights, you can add just a small amount of heat with a porcelain radiant bulb, that won't catch the coop on fire.

ETA--very nice setup, they will do great!
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For how to construct winter-appropriate ventilation, see my ventilation page (link in .sig below), basically you want openings at the TOPS of all or usually-downwind walls, closeable with weatherstripped flaps so you can control how much and where your ventilation is on a given day.

For whether you need a heat lamp, see my cold coop page (link also in .sig below
) -- in your area, if you manage your coop well and have sensibly chosen breeds you probably will not need it, but it can't hurt to have the facilities *available* just in case something unexpected happens.

(edited to add, now that my slow dialup has loaded your pix: Your big rectangular vent is a good start. Which direction does it face? If it faces S or SE, you may be ok with just that (rigged to be adjustable how closed it is), if you build a little 'porch roof' or hood over it, or reverse the hinges so it is attached from the top. If that is on an often-upwind side, you will either need an *extensive* hood over it so weather doesn't blow directly in at high speed, or you will need to put vents on downwind side(s) to use instead. You might also want to consider replacing that chickenwire with a stronger version of mesh, as predators get pretty hungry and motivated in the wintertime and you'd be surprised what they can tear through.)

Good luck, have fun,

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