Heat lamp thoughts!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ashrich6, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. ashrich6

    ashrich6 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2014
    Salt Lake City, Utah

    I have 4, 1 1/2 year old Buff Orpingtons. We live in Salt Lake City and this winter is a cold one. WAY colder then the past couple years. Lately the nights have dropped to 6-10 degrees. Tonight it is suppose to drop to 19 degrees. On top of all this, I noticed 2 of my hens have decided now is the time to molt! One hen has a bare bum!

    We have not put a heat lamp out there because I have read on here that they catch fire, explode or the chickens won't adjust to the temperatures well. I went today to the farm store for hay and chicken feed and I asked an employee what I should do and she said to get a lamp since they are molting and how cold it has been. So I bought one.

    What I did was set outside of their coop and on the run where they walk out. The lamp is covered and is over their food and water. It's about 4 feet from the ground. I hope this is the right decision!

    What else are people doing this winter?

    I am hoping to get a timer on it so it turns on about 5 am so when they wake up they walk out to a little bit of warmth.

    Thoughts and opinions are appreciated!!!
  2. nab58

    nab58 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2013
    I don't think it's necessary and don't like worrying about it. You have to remember, other places have colder winters than where you live and raise chickens without heat.
  3. ashrich6

    ashrich6 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2014
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    That's very true. I feel bad for the 2 that are molting but they don't seem to mind. Thank you for your input!
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Consider placing a heat lamp so it warms the roost and where they loaf. Take care to limit fuel where light might fall. Make so birds can stand on dry fresh hay or straw while loafing.

    They can survive cold yes but additional heat makes life more comfortable and helps keep them in lay as outside temperatures drop.
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Spring Dreaming Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    We get way colder than that here, chickens handle cold a lot better than heat, I wouldn't waste my money running a heat lamp, they will be fine.
    3 people like this.
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri

    You are not doing a lot of thinking beyond how to be contrary. I keep most of my birds under stars in a manner that is at least as stressful as what you put your birds through. They are a lot tougher than ornamental breeds, none-the-less if I had expectations of egg productions or had birds in poor feather, then common sense dictates the birds lives become easier during what are otherwise stressful conditions on the birds.
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I think a prime consideration is how are you supplying the electricity? Another question is how did you hang the light? If you are running an extension cord or have the light just cobbled up, the chance of fire is a real possibility.

    Molting chickens look ghastly, but as you noticed, it does not really seem to bother them.

    I agree with oldhenlikesdogs - I don't add heat or light. I am too far from electricity, it gets equally as cold as the op here in SD, and my last bird is almost done molting. I think it is more important to provide dry bedding as Centrachid mentioned, and good ventilation. It is better for birds to be dry, than warm.

    Mrs K
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I don't think Oldhen was being contrary. Just stating her opinion. I happen to agree. My chickens will lay in much colder temperatures than that without heat - just supplemental light if I choose to add it. But these chickens aren't going to lay anyway if they're molting. (in re-reading your post, I see you did also state "Or had birds in poor feather") I think they'll be just fine with plenty of straw or hay or similar bedding to snuggle down in during the day. In my opinion, you're wasting your money having the lamp on outside and that far off the ground. Not sure how much heat they're actually getting anyway. Is there a way to wrap your run in plastic to keep the wind off them? It could have a greenhouse type effect if you can cover it, too. If they're shivering, I would maybe consider heat, but otherwise no.

    ETA - Centrarchid - have you been affected much by the flooding down there?
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  9. dekel18042

    dekel18042 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2013
    In the winter we get down into the single digits and an occasional night in the minus numbers. I think several things are important. The chickens need to be acclimated to the cold. Hopefully it has gone down over a period of time. The coop should be draft free and it should have enough ventilation so that the humidity doesn't build up and cause frost bite.
    That said, some breeds seem to be more cold hardy than others which may be more heat tolerant so it helps if you stick with the sold hardy breeds.
    I also give cracked corn in the evening as a treat in winter. That is supposed to help with the body heat. Not sure if it does, but they like it.
  10. jimbob86

    jimbob86 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2015
    My Coop
    Just my $.02 - if you give them heat, they'll grow less down ....... then if the electricity goes out, they are going to be unprepared.

    Chickens are very adaptable, but adapting takes time...... if the power goes out, they are unable to adapt that fast.
    2 people like this.

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