Heat lamp & coop temperature

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by vermontgal, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    On the many threads about heating/ not heating a coop, some people who used 250w heat lamps said "I use a heat lamp, does that count?"

    I thought some folks might be interested to know how using a 250w heat lamp for 3 hours affected the temperature in my coop today.

    Today's high was around 15°F, and cloudy. Tonight it is supposed to be -3°F. My coop has south windows for passive-solar heating, so if it is cloudy during the day, followed by a cold night, the coop gets quite cold. My coldest night so far was 14°F in the coop when it was -9°F outside the coop. I think we might have gotten a little frost-nip that night.

    This afternoon around 3pm, I turned on the infrared 250w heat lamp. It was then 8°F outside, and 23°F inside the coop. I left the lamp on for about 3 hours. When I turned the lamp off, it was 36°F inside the coop, and 6°F outside.

    Starting from 36°F, my coop will probably get down to around 18-20°F tonight. VERY comfortable for the gals in their chicken-down coats.

    So, on cloudy days with a cold night ahead (0°F to -10°F), I'll try this type of "warm it up" approach with the heat lamp.

    I have yet to figure out my strategy for -25°F.

    * If I had 25 chickens, I have been 100% convinced that I would not heat the coop at all, even at -25°F. With 4 chickens, it is a different story. If you have 25 chickens, it is like having a built-in 400 watt heater in your coop. That's about how much heat 25 chickens put out. 4 chickens put out about 60 watts. I'd love to get an additional 340 watts worth of chicken heaters (I want...Chanteclers, Partridge Rocks, Silkies, Speckled Sussex, SLW... I have a list!!! 21 more chickens, no problem!), but unfortunately the tight urban setting does not permit this approach. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Now you have defined a *fantastic* reason for getting chickens, at 15W each! Is there a way to hook up a heat exchanger and warm the house? [​IMG]
  3. Sissy

    Sissy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2007
    Sevier county, Tn.
    I knew there was a good reason for getting more
    ladies , This new year will be a hot one LOL
  4. I have WHAT in my yard?

    I have WHAT in my yard? Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2008
    Eggberg, PA
    Thank you for posting this. We just put the girls (and guy) in their new coop and it is going to get really cold here tonight. I was worried. There are 11 of them and they have a heat lamp. The new coop is bigger so more air space to heat??

    I need to put a thermometer in there - but if it got below freezing I'd be all worried. Are you telling me I shouldn't? My roo got pretty good frostbite the other day. Much of it is healing but I may have to dub his wattles. [​IMG]
  5. marionsimeri

    marionsimeri Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 8, 2008
    I spoil my girl, they are like my children.They do not like the snow. I have heatlamps on day and night, always between 50 and 60 degrees in their henhouse and 45 degrees in their run. I raise mealworms for them and give them greens, oatmeal, scambled eggs and apples every day. In return they give me on the average 6 eggs out of 7 chickens every day , even now in the middle of winter. I rather turn down the lights in the house, and don't leave my computer on all day to save on electricity, so i can keep the girls warm and cozy.They are my pride and joy.[​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  6. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Howdy - I have WHAT in my yard?

    I don't think you should worry about heating (at all) if you have a snug coop, if the outside temps are above about 10°F.

    Once a bird gets frostbite, however, I would think it would be more susceptible to repeat frostbite. (That is how humans are, anyhow.)

    You're forecast to go down to 16°F tonight. How cold was it when your roo's comb got frostbite? I think I saw photos of your roos' comb. [​IMG]

    When I asked around, most people said that even the single-comb hens should be ok down to 20°F (in-the-coop temperature). My coop has been down into the upper teens with no problems.

    I have been putting vaseline on the combs on the colder nights, but not religiously - every other or every third day. If my one BR pullet has a bit of frost nip (bite?), she just has one tiny spot on one tip - or it might just be dirt. I know it has been down to 14°F inside the coop. With an insulated coop (see my BYC page for details on R-value) there is definitely a difference between inside temperature and outside temperature.

    The heat lamps are infrared; they are like sunshine. If you have the light shining on you (standing in the sunshine) you are much warmer than if you are in the shade. So, for max heat to the birds, make sure the heat lamp shines on your roost. Don't worry about it heating up the air space of the coop -- infrared heat lamps work by shining on objects, not by heating the air. (I am unknowledgable about what shining the light on the chickens does to egg laying, as I am an energy geek but am still learning about chickens)!
  7. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    LynneP, one of my friends who is a professor of engineering at Dartmouth College, actually did suggest that a person could heat the home with chicken heat. (His joking suggestion was keeping chickens in the basement, not taking into account the actual practicality of all this.) We were talking about various "alternative" heating sources, so that is when the chicken-heat idea came up. But... a heat exchanger... now that solves the problem with bird dander in the basement. I'll have to see if I can get my friend on this concept. [​IMG]

    Yes, you too, can solve your home heating problems by acquiring more chickens. [​IMG]

    The topic also came up because I figure that my dog puts off maybe as much as 50 watts, and I didn't want to pay to run a footwarmer in my home office. Figured I should be able to train the dog to sit on my feet. This didn't work. The dog is too wiggly. and now I use a 17 watt seedling mat under my tootsies -- which works GREAT.
  8. TreeFever

    TreeFever Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 17, 2008
    I like the description of chickens in wattage hahaha
    My coop has five birds, 3 polish and 2 banties.
    My coop is insulated so it stays decently warm (hasn't gone below 16 in there I don't think). We did find this kind of heat bulb that is simply a radiant ceramic heater. You buy a temperature controlled outlet that doesnt let it get above 40 in the coop and not below freezing. This way it wont get too warm and throw the birds off if the power goes out.
  9. bandm

    bandm Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 12, 2008
    My chickens are spoiled also. I have a space heater with a built in thermostat hanging from the ceiling and the coop is insulated. I set the heater to keep the coop at just above freezing. [​IMG]

  10. I have WHAT in my yard?

    I have WHAT in my yard? Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2008
    Eggberg, PA
    Thanks vermontgal and all you guys! I was bracing myself to have to dub my roo, but today he looks much better. I have been vaselining his comb and wattles and the new coop is more snug. I was just out there and while it is still colder than I would be happy to sleep in, I was able to take off my gloves to put the vaseline on and not be too uncomfortable. So, I am pretty sure it is well above ambient temp. It is 21 now and it felt better than that in the coop.

    I need more thermometers!!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by