Heat Lamps

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Tootie123, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. Tootie123

    Tootie123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 25, 2012
    Atlanta Georgia USA
    When are heat lamps needed? I live in Atlanta, Georgia and have a flock of
    10 chickens....8 of which are about 16 weeks old.
    We have been getting some cold night here in the South. Temperatures
    inside the coop have gotten to have got down to 32 degrees are below.
    Wind chill factor is always a question and can be in 20's. Coop has open vents at the roof
    line where rafters are so know they get a lot of breeze.
    Notice their water container had a little ice in it the other morning.
    I have installed a heat lamp above their roost with a about 4 foot head space.
    Have just been using it when temperature drop below freezing. Is that
    adequate? How do you know if they have gotten frost bite? They seem
    healthy enough. Just don't want to endanger their health by not keeping
    them warm enough with the cold weather. Have heard that the cold can
    inhibit their egg laying also. Any advice would be welcome.......[​IMG]
     
  2. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm Premium Member

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    Bowdon, GA
    At 4 months, I would make sure that they have food and water all day long and that they are sheltered from any winds/drafts. The extra rations help them stay warm. If below 20 degrees then you can add a heat lamp if you think it is necessary.
    If you are showing chickens, you might want to add a heat lamp earlier to prevent frostbit combs, etc. Hope this helps.
     
  3. dirtsaver

    dirtsaver Chillin' With My Peeps

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    tootie we live a few hundred miles north of you on the Kentucky/Indiana border where we see winter temps below freezing much of December,January,Febuary and into March. We have never used a heat lamp or any other form of heat in the coops. We've had several breeds and have never had an illness or lost a chicken due to cold temps. We did have some frostbit combs on our Australorps one year but that was due to too little ventilation and moisture in the coop,not cold temps.

    If you search the forum you will see many that feel as I do,that heat lamps cause more problems that the good they do. The biggest problem is fire in the coop due to a hot,broken bulb. The other problem wit heat lamps,or other sources of heat for chickens is that the girls get used to the warmer temps and then if the power goes out they suffer because they are not used to the cold.

    Concentrate on getting your coop free of drafts and properly ventilated and the chickens will manage you southern winters just fine. As long as the roofline vents are at least 18" to24" above the chickens heads you should be ok. You can block off the vents on the windward side to help cut down on drafts,either for all winter or just when you get severe winds. Make sure the walls are tight with no air gaps in them. Same goes for the floor if it is a raised coop.

    As to identifying frostbite,you'll notice a darkening,almost black on the combs that will start to shrivel after a few days. You can tell if you're in danger before it happens if you see condensation on the walls of the coop,if the coop seems really damp inside or if you see what looks like sweat on the chickens combs. Any of those is a sign you need better venting,or if the litter is very damp it needs to be changed for dry bedding.

    Hope this helps!
    Larry
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    western South Dakota
    north of you Dirt saver, and right now the temperature is BELOW zero! No added heat, they do fine
     
  5. Tootie123

    Tootie123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 25, 2012
    Atlanta Georgia USA
    They do have plenty of food and water....so that is taken care of.
    Just know that the draft in there has got to be bad. Eves are all
    open on coop, used to be a garden shed so is not insulated or
    anything. Thanks for answer though, appreciate it.
     
  6. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    I'd take care of the drafts and not worry about a light. In Georgia, you'll never get temps low enough that they need it. Heck, there are people in Michigan on BYC that never provide heat.

    Can you take care of the drafts? Cover the outside in a tarp, put straw bales around the walls, etc? But make sure that you still have the eaves open to move some air, so that moisture doesn't build up. It's drafts and moisture combined with cold that cause frostbite, not cold alone. You can also rub Vaseline into large combs to help prevent frostbite, but we never see frostbite here until the temps hits -20 F (we're in central Ohio). Around -10 F we hang a heat lamp over the perches, and we put a heat lamp over the waterer all the time so they always have access to fresh water.

    You do have a bit of a problem in that you're already using the light, so you've stopped their bodies from acclimating to the cold naturally. Hens are very good at staying warm together when they're allowed to get used to the cold naturally. They tuck their feed underneath them at night, and snuggle up on the roost, and are fine. I'd try turning off the light when it's in the 30's, for a week, then turning off the light when it's in the high 20's for a week, then the low 20's for a week, then just go without the light. let them build up a cold tolerance. There are actual chemical changes in their bodies that will allow them to be fine in colder temperatures.

    it's not cold that stops a chicken from laying, it's lack of sunlight hours in the winter. A standard light bulb on a timer that comes on around 4am and goes off around 8am will be enough of a light supplement to keep them laying all winter.
     
  7. Tootie123

    Tootie123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 25, 2012
    Atlanta Georgia USA
    I do worry about the fire situation. I get up a couple of times a night to make sure
    shed is not on fire, crazy me.....lamp is position well away from walls and wood.
    Don't ever notice any condensation on the walls. Litter in coop is about 6-8 inches
    The shed is probably 8 foot wide and 12-14 feet long. Used to be a garden shed
    and we partitioned part of it off for the coop. Coop itself is about 8x6.
    All around the roof line which is a good 12 feet above their heads is open under eves.
    Never had soffits put up outside under roof.
    Sooo....there is a good bit of breeze when wind is blowing and we have been
    getting lots of wind here lately in Atlanta. Guess I could get my son to block
    some of those off. The floor is plywood that has been treated with a waterproofing
    material with the litter over the top and it is raised. Have tried to seal off all holes where predators
    or animals could not get in so walls are pretty hole free.
    Maybe I am just overly concerned. If you never use heat lamp and you are that much
    further North than we are am sure you weather is much more severe......just want them to
    be okay. Thanks for the information. Will only use heat lamp sparely.......
     
  8. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    If you can get your son to staple a tarp up over the walls, you should be good to go. Just block the wind.


    If you never covered the soffit vents, you might want to do that. We had raccoons climb in through the soffits and kill several hens before we got the vent covers installed.
     
  9. Tootie123

    Tootie123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 25, 2012
    Atlanta Georgia USA
    Good information about the laying process, am new to chicken business. Am learning a lot.
    Well have only used heat lamp once, guess it was a couple of nights ago now. Temperature
    went down in 20's with wind chill in the teens. Sooo....I see the light so to speak.
    Use heat lamp sparely. Lowers their resistance to cold when they get used to the warmth.
    I guess God took care of the chickens before there were heat lamps.......
    We hardly ever get snow here, maybe once or twice a year if that. Sooo....they should
    do pretty well if I block off some of the eves so there isn't so much draft.
    Thanks for the thoughts.
     
  10. Tootie123

    Tootie123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 25, 2012
    Atlanta Georgia USA
    The top of the coop area is covered in hardware cloth on the inside so the predators can't get in.
    But the eves are open. That will be my priority is to get some of those eves blocked off.
    Don't want to seal it up too tight, got to keep some ventilation I guess.
     

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