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Heat lamp thoughts!

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

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I think more people need to read stress signs coming from their birds. Your birds are challenged by weather just like homeless people in the US. The homeless people can survive but take time to talk to them about how being outside in cold feels. Then take into account the life expectancy of such folks. With the typical backyard flock where birds also valued as pets; longevity is often of greater interest than for folks solely interested in nutritional benefits provided by the chickens. Therefore, when applied wisely, supplemental heat for birds otherwise exposed to extreme cold and sometimes even just cold can be a benefit.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    A passive solar heat with a wind break to the north, will get chickens outside in fresh air and it is surprisingly warmer under the shed. Mine is very similar to the one pictured above, although I face mine south, and use a piece of plexiglass to capture the suns heat. I started with an old window, later went to a piece of plexiglass.

    Put hay on the floor, and don't seal it up tight, and my birds love it.

    In the summer, turn it around, so it faces the north, remove the glass and you have great shade.

    I do agree with Centrachid, in that winter does shorten birds lives, but if you are not properly installing your heat source, so do fires.

    Mrs k
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Hence my use of the phrase "wisely applied".
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I keep birds under a wide range of conditions. Some have been kept literally in trees even during the harshest winters when predator control better than I can legally manage now.

    These birds are likely tougher when it come to cold than any kept by posters in this thread. Even so these birds would seek out accessible warmth and benefit from it in ways measurable in terms of feed intake, growth and egg production.


    Rooster and hen in foreground can avoid snow only by standing on roost

    [​IMG]


    Pens in foreground many, with very little cover even as temperatures approach zero.
    [​IMG]

    Looking down two parallel rows of pens holding mostly games. Many have protection from winds only from north.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. leliel

    leliel New Egg

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    I think the need for additional heat is pretty much dictated by flock size.

    With over 100 birds in the coop, I'm more worried about the birds overheating on the warmer nights than getting too cold even when night temperatures drop into the negatives.
    When they're outside, if they're cold, they huddle up and share bodyheat, keeps each bird a lot warmer than you'd expect even on single digit days.
    Last week, when it was around 30f even at night, we kept the outer coop door cracked open a couple of inches to allow ventilation. (inner mesh door to discourage nocturnal critters closed up tight.)
    In the mornings, the air in the coop would be hot, almost as hot as in the house. Nothing but the flock for heat in the coop.

    A flock of 4 birds is going to get a lot colder, and suffer more in far milder weather than such a big flock, because there just aren't enough birds to huddle together and share warmth.
     
  6. jimbob86

    jimbob86 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote: Having seen single chickens and pheasants or pairs of same in open sided coops, with only a 3 sided lean-to on the north end of a wire run ..... without any heat at all, I'd have to disagree with this statement. This was on open table land in SW Nebraska, and I can tell you, it does get COLD there.

    So long as they are able to get out of the wind, and can stay dry, and have been gradually acclimated to the cold, I doubt that well fed and watered birds would be stressed by even double digits below zero.

    I'm fairly certain that more birds in my area have died in coop fires than of cold. I've been to 3 of them in the last 4 years, and one of those spread to other structures , including a a detached garage ..... I would not do it. YMMV.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Being stressed by cold does not require death or even frost bite to be realized. Stress can result in the increase of feed intake and decline of egg production at the same time. Cold birds in confinement can also go for protracted periods without dust bathing which can cause feather problems later.
     
  8. jimbob86

    jimbob86 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think we need to remember that all "stress" is not bad- without any cold stress, chickens won't grow down. And of course feed intake will go up inthe cold- eating more is an adaptation, and positive one ...... and birds in confinemet can be provided with a tub to dust bathe in ...... that's up to their keeper .....

    Plants, Animals or People, the principle is the same: If you mollycoddle them and protect them from Everything, they will never develop the ability to adapt, and will be vulnerable to Anything.


    It all comes down to what the person taking care of the birds in question wants...... if you want a spoiled, unproductive, vulnerable pet that might inadvertently burn it's coop down around itself (and maybe your house, too!) by all means, give it a heat lamp, and all the treats it wants ..... your birds, your call. Just don't anthropomorphize them: they are chickens, and don't make your decisions based on warm and fuzzy feelings. Do some research and make an informed decision.
     
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    You are going to have to ask yourself why people making a living from livestock, especially smaller species, invest so much in environmental control. Economics you will find is the overriding concern, not an interest in coddling.
     
  10. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've heard a saying applied to other occupations and hobbies and I think it fits chickenkeeping perfectly.

    It goes:
    The only thing two chickenkeepers can agree on is that the third chickenkeeper is doing everything wrong.

    I think there are just far too many variables and far too many individual wants and needs between chickenkeepers to make an absolute ruling on whether heat lamps should or shouldn't be used.

    This is further complicated by the fact that very often "heat lamp" debates turn into "heating" debates. In my book the two are very different. I have read some very logical arguments for using heat in particular circumstances but have absolutely cringed when I read that the heat would be supplied by a poorly installed conventional heat lamp.

    FWIW, I think that conventional heat lamps carry the greatest risk of fire. I also think that, even with measures taken to reduce that risk, the risk remains very high. Given that there are other methods to heat a coop that would appear to have far less risk associated with them, it seems to me that the choice to use a conventional heat lamp is an unwise choice.

    This is completely separate from my opinion on heating a coop.

    My recommendation to heat or not would depend on a number of complex variables that are unique to any one particular situation. I will give the following generalizations that are solely my opinion.

    Firstly, many (and especially new) chicken owners underestimate the ability of their birds to aclimate to and tolerate cold weather. This leads them to conclude that their birds need supplemental heat when they actually don't.

    Secondly, occasionally there are conditions in the coop that lead chickenkeepers to conclude that some amount of supplimental heat will be beneficial for the flock. And they may be correct. However, in a number of those instances, simple changes in housing or keeping practices would eliminate any such need for supplemental heat.

    Lastly, sometimes heating the coop is the simplest change or the only one that can be made at the time. If so, it should be done as safely as possible, employing equipment that poses the least risk of malfunction and fire.
     
    3 people like this.

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