Heat vs Darkness

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SnowdogHERA, Dec 16, 2017.

  1. SnowdogHERA

    SnowdogHERA Out Of The Brooder

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    Now that the temp is below 10 degrees (and regularly below 0), I have put a light in the coop for some heat. I keep it on from dusk to dawn. However, I worry about the chickens not having any darkness. So, the question is which is more important? warmth below 10 degrees or darkness (having a break from 24 hours of light)?
     
  2. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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  3. SnowdogHERA

    SnowdogHERA Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  4. Latestarter

    Latestarter Overrun With Chickens

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    Light is not heat, and heat is not light. At temps below 10°f an exposed light bulb is not going to produce enough heat to make a difference, unless they're touching the bulb in which case they're liable to get burned. In addition, it's a fire hazard. Laying hens typically molt in the fall starting their 2nd year and then stop laying during the shorter daylight hours, giving their bodies a chance to recover and get ready to start laying again in the spring.

    Chickens survive quite well with no additional heat through winter temps down to -15 to -20°f. The key things that allow this are proper ventilation with no wind/drafts on them while roosting, and no moisture build up inside the coop. I had 6 breeds and they had no problems surviving periods of cold to the above mentioned temps when I was in CO.

    By providing 24/7 light, laying hens have no rest period from laying. Many folks add light to give an effective 14 hours to keep their hens laying through winter. I'm not saying that's wrong. Others believe the hens deserve the break, I'm not saying that's right. You need to decide for yourself. But I'd nix the light for heat idea as a bad idea.
     
  5. Yorkshire Coop

    Yorkshire Coop Moderator Staff Member

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    :goodpost:

    I too am of the same thinking and like to give my hens a break. But @SnowdogHERA they are your birds and it’s ultimately your decision on how to proceed.

    Good luck :)
     
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  6. lissalischicks

    lissalischicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with latestarter.

    If it's heat you want more than the light you can use other methods than bulbs. I know people use a sweeter heater and flat panel heater.

    Where I live we rarely go below 20 but I use plastic sheeting to cover the run to protect their house from the bitter winds we have in the winter.
     
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  7. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Humidity is relative to the temperature. That is the reason it is called "RELATIVE" humidity. A high relative humidity during cold weather leads to frostbitten combs and feet. Just like a soldier in a wet trench or foxhole will come down with trench foot a.k.a. immersion foot. When you heat the air inside the coop you increase the ability of that air to absorb and hold onto water and even the exhaled breath of your hens will increase the water in the heated air and as crazy as it sounds a heated coop may well result in frostbitten toes and combs.
     
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  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  9. SnowdogHERA

    SnowdogHERA Out Of The Brooder

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    I have decided on not doing the lightbulb method of heat (or any heat) as many here and in another forum have strongly suggested to me not to do. I will also not deprive the chickens of much needed darkness. This last part was what disturbed me the most. I really felt the same as most all of you that they needed that break. I know I do. Another forum (Facebook forum) was adamant about the chickens not needing heat and definitely needing darkness. What's odd was when I was trying to decide to do chickens in the far north, so many chicken people I talked to in person said all the chickens needed was a lightbulb. Glad to have the online forums to get a better sense of what to do.

    By the way, the run is wrapped in plastic, the coop is draft free (I think/hope), there is enough ventilation to not worry about humidity, and the chickens are content.
     
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  10. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    And just keep watching your chickens! You will learn their regular behavior and you will learn to recognize when something is wrong. I don't heat my coop, but when it was cold a sick chicken lived in my laundry room for a week, had I left her in the cold during her course of antibiotics I doubt she would have recovered the way she did. No heat doesn't mean they never need a little warmth sometimes. Mine huddle under the coop on windy days (summer and winter) I'm in a wind prone area, I have built an extra wind break. You will learn what's best for them by observing your flock.
     
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