Heat lamps are confusing chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by snoggle, Feb 1, 2015.

  1. snoggle

    snoggle Chillin' With My Peeps

    I hadn't used supplemental heat in previous years, but with our first below zero cold snap this year my rooster and several hens suffered frostbite. I added two red light heat lamps, like I used when they were chicks.

    Unfortunately, this seems to have them confused. I thought the red lamps would only provide heat, not light for them, but they aren't roosting at night, just wandering around the coop and eating. Some of them haven't gone in the coop at night and have wandered around the yard in the dark, confused. I have to gather them up and haul them into the coop. When it is warmer (above 15 degrees at night), I haven't used the heat lamps and that seems to fix the problem.

    Am I using the wrong kind of lights? Is there a better way to add heat?

    I'm planning on limiting my chicken numbers in future years as I'm certain that having 15 this year (not my usual 10 or so) and the increased moisture is a big part of the problem. However, I need to get through this winter.
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    What I do in that situation is to put the lights on a timer. Have them turn on after the coop door has closed. Make sure they have water and food to occupy their attention.

    Make sure your timers are rated for the electricity load they will be bearing.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  3. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

    Nov 30, 2014
    Middle Tennessee
    Maybe try ceramic bulbs? They are more expensive but they don't put out any light.
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Rather than adding heat, can you add ventilation? It's been in the -20's here a few times and still no frostbite on my chickens. I have yet to close the pop door, and there is ventilation around the top of my coop. How about cracking the windows open a bit?
  5. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

    Nov 30, 2014
    Middle Tennessee

    I actually agree with this more, just offered an alternative in line with what OP was doing. I do not have supplemental heat, went to 7 at night a couple times and the only frostbite that happened was on a couple JG pullets who refused to go inside the coop a couple nights. They are going in now and no more issues. Have plenty of ventilation and all are happy. Good luck and hope you get it figured out! :)
  6. snoggle

    snoggle Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have ventilation at the top of all of the walls. I really can't do anything to add more right now, other than open the windows, but I was afraid that would be too drafty. We've been getting wind chill factors as low as -20 this year, last year as low as -45. I'm afraid to leave their door open as we've had lots of problems with opossums and raccoons in the past.

    I know that my 6 x 8 coop is too small for 15 chickens. I raised 5 for a coworker, and then she changed her mind. I hate how much feed I'm going through and the quantity of chicken poop is more than I like to deal with. I'm actually giving away eggs like crazy because I'm getting 8-12/day - in January!

    To help with the moisture issue I added a bunch of fresh bedding today. I do the deep litter method which has normally been fine all winter, just adding pine shavings until spring when I remove it all into the compost pile. I can't do a thorough cleaning right now - we have over a foot of snow on the ground and I have a 2 year old to chase. So it's going to be a really, really deep litter method this winter. I just need to add bedding more frequently to deal with moisture from droppings. If we get a crazy warm snap, I'll do a thorough clean out early, I guess.

    So, I think I'll order one of those ceramic heat lamps and just turn it on for the coldest nights, after I close them in for the night. I don't really need a timer (though I do have one) since I have to close and open their coop manually anyway. I don't know why I didn't think of only putting it on once they are closed in. Duh! LOL

    Thanks for the suggestions!
  7. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 27, 2013
    Northern Wisconsin
    That is kind of odd, I always thought the light in the coop helped to draw the birds indoors when it became dark at outside at night, I've never had chickens wander in the dark they always either roost in a tree or hide in brush for the night when they don't go inside
  8. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I have had it work both ways....some hens like to get inside and are drawn by the light and others linger right outside the door, since the light lights up the outside a bit, and wham the door shuts. I have the auto opener shut the door when it is almost dark but not completely dark since the coons are running around here.
  9. RonP

    RonP Overrun With Chickens

    Seems you know your problem, 15 chickens in a 48 sq footprint should be manageable with adequate ventilation.

    How about making your door out of hardware cloth to get ventilation at the lower level?
  10. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    How about selling those extra birds? I can sell point of lay Pullets all day long for $20 each...If you've got five extra that's an easy $100 and you're that much closer to less moisture.

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