I broke down and used a heat lamp...how do I wean them off?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by grnidone, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. grnidone

    grnidone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes. I know that using a heat lamp means I will go straight to hell without passing "Go".

    But, in my defense, the overnight temperatures were -15 and on Saturday, we had a storm with 40mph winds and a windchill of -50. My Roo has some light frostbite on his Pompadour-like comb.

    I was also using supplemental light and was reading today that I am probably dooming my hens to ovarian cancer. I am freaking out over this, so I want to wean them off the white light as well. I feel like I need to give them a good life and cancer is awful.

    I read somewhere that the white light should go down an hour a week, not all of a sudden. Currently, it's on a timer from 5pm to 10PM, so that should be easy. I've changed the timer to 9PM and next week will do 8 and then 7 and so on.

    But haven't read anything about the red heat lamp.

    1. Is an hour a week correct for the white light?

    2. Should I also put the heat lamp on a timer as well and slowly wean them off? Will an hour each week do the trick?
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    First of all, artificial light is no more likely to cause ovarian cancer in poultry than natural light. And it's a contagious virus that causes avian cancers, not light.

    Weaning layers off light is a personal choice. No right or wrong way to do it.

    But weaning chicks off a heat lamp depends on their ages, and you don't specify that. It will make a big difference if these chicks are three weeks or three months. Usually you can tell if chicks no longer need heat when you see them stop using it.
     
  3. grnidone

    grnidone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    *slides down in seat*

    These are over a year old. BUT...they'll always be MY BABIES...right? *wince* I saw the temperature on the news and ... felt horrible.
    I admit it. I caved.

    I turned on a red heat lamp with a thermostat to turn on under 33 degrees and turn off at 42 degrees. They seem to love it and go stand underneath it.
     
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    They really don't need it. And you aren't doing them any favors by making them reliant on it. What happens when the power goes out during a storm? The coop should not have any wind chill. And if it's closed up enough to hold in the heat from the heat lamp, it might also be holding in too much moisture and ammonia. Ventilation is far more important than supplemental heat.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Relax, you haven’t done anything to hurt your chickens.

    I’ve seen that ovarian cancer thing a couple of times recently. I don’t know who’s spreading it but I wish they’d stop. I don’t know where they got that. They’re probably well-meaning but they are scaring people needlessly. As Azygous said it’s not light causing ovarian cancer.

    A lot of us do not heat the coop with adult chickens. But just because we think they don’t need it, and mine don’t, doesn’t mean you hurt them by providing some heat on those really cold nights. Just give them room to get away from it if they don’t want it and you should be OK. Again, some people will scare you about that too but it’s not the end of the world as long as you don’t overheat them. If you give them room to get away, they will self-regulate and move away if they need to. I totally agree that if they are acclimated, you block winds blowing through the coop, and have good ventilation they don’t need it. Don’t make a habit of it but on those rare bitterly cold nights a little heat won’t hurt them.

    Some people will tell you that extending the light is pure evil. It’s not, plenty of people do it and it does not harm the chickens. Just because I don’t do something doesn’t mean I have to badmouth those who do. We all have different goals and for some extending the lights is the right answer.
     
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  6. grnidone

    grnidone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Read my original post again. ;) I'm asking how to WEAN THEM OFF the heat lamp.
     
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Relax, take a deep breath and get a cup of hot cocoa. Reread the posts from Azygous and Ridgerunner as many times as you need to. Then go outside and watch your chickens. Where they are in the coop (as long as they have plenty of room to get away from the light) in relation to the light will tell you a lot. If they are as far as they can get from it, they don't need it. Shut it off, take it out, and let them deal with it. You've only had it on them for a couple of days from what I understand, so you have not created them to be dependent on it. They have had time to acclimate naturally to the colder weather by growing their down coats throughout the fall and winter. I think they'll be fine. Especially if you're going to have warmer weather this week.
     
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  8. grnidone

    grnidone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, the hens like to stand under the light, one of them more than the other because she decided to molt some back feathers recently. She now has a hen apron made of wool. (I was thinking natural fibers are best?) The Roo was standing under it this weekend off and on. But, again, it has been unusually cold.

    Thank you for the ... calming reassurance.
     
  9. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Really. Trust us. Chickens don't need heat. Sure, they like it. Don't we all? I have three elderly hens who are eight and nine years old and I give them a heat lamp in their run when it gets down to the single digits, and they stick themselves under it like potted plants. But they don't need it. I'm pampering them 'cause they're very old. Like me.

    Face it. You and I are both trying to pamper our chickens to make ourselves feel better. That's the truth of the matter, not that our chickens require heating.

    Chickens have remarkable adaptations to cold that we as humans could only wish for. It starts with beautifully arranged down and feathers, fluffed in a very precise manner, that traps body heat, making the coldest temperatures feel like an afternoon summer breeze. We look at their naked legs and feet and worry they're going to be sooooo uncomfortable, but the reality is they have a reverse blood flow that cools their blood as it goes back down to their feet, equalizing the temperature of their feet with the air temp so they don't even feel how cold it really is.

    Putting a wool sweater on a chicken robs them of the ability to fluff and arrange their feathers to maximize their body heat, so your are actually making them colder. Ditch the sweaters if you really love your chickens. And I know you do. Even if your chicken is molting, a sweater is a bad idea because it can damage fragile pin feathers. Also a chicken cannot preen wearing a sweater.

    Your temperatures aren't all that cold, and your chickens aren't going to suffer. Just think about how warm and comfy you are when you wear a down parka. That's how your chickens feel. They are much more able to cope with cold weather than hot summer heat waves.
     
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  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with the other posters if you are rethinking the heat lamp, just pull it out. That is what mother nature does. We went from the 20's to negative 33 degrees on Friday. Yep, animals have a unique ability to control the thickness of their "jacket". I went from a windbreaker to my heavy thick coat. My chickens went from sleek slim chickens to fluffy, round shaped coats. They hold their feathers to trap more heat.

    My point is, the temperature (at least in SD, is all over the place all of the time) It is not uncommon at all for us to have a 30-40 degree change from day to night, and add a storm, and it can swing much bigger than that.

    Baby chicks do need extra heat, but not full size chickens. Do what makes you feel comfortable, but DON'T Lock down the coop to trap the heat in. Chickens really need to be dry, and need good ventilation.

    Things to feel guilty about: inadequate space, filthy coops, no food, no water
    Things not to feel guilty about: everything else, they are chickens, do you best, live and learn.

    Mrs K
     
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