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Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Howard E, Dec 11, 2016.
I am in southern Canada and I put lights in my coops for exactly the reasons you outlined. How can a chicken take in enough calories to stay warm and hydrated for 16 hours of darkness in sub freezing temperatures? Some of my coops have red heat lamps going 24/7, and some have alternate heat sources with separate lights that I turn off at 9PM. I let them wake up with the first light, around 7 AM right now.
The heat lamps don't even keep the water from freezing. It is several degrees warmer in the coops, but still COLD.
I was just outside doing my final check on things around 9 PM and my youngest cockerel is crowing up a storm. He likes the heat of the heat lamp but the light 24/7 is confusing him, I think.
Greetings from South Central Alaska!
This is my first try at chickens here in Alaska.
To be honest I don't just want my chickens to survive.
I want them to thrive.
So while your question is only about survival light I don't care about them just surviving.
I have a heat lamp in my coop on a timer so they have 14 hours of light.
It was -13*f this morning but I got 7 eggs for 7 hens today.
I paid $16 for my outdoor rated timer at Home Depot.
My coop is made of panels we made. They are 1/2" plywood on the outside 3/8 plywood on the inside and 2X2 framing with 1.5" RTec in between.
And I use a electric heated plastic waterer.
Would my hens survive without supplemental lights?
I'm not going to let my chickens be guinea pigs for such an experiment.
Besides my goal is this:
Even when facing this:
Yes that temp this morning reads -13*f
So I went ice fishing.
So while the sun doesn't rise till ~9 and sets before ~5 I'm still happy and so are my birds.
Plenty of bird raisers here in AK but I don't personally know very many of them.
But I'll leave with this I have no intention of finding out if my birds would die without supplemental light.
And in this day and age there's no reason to test such a theory.
Putting innocent birds at risk testing their survivability is animal cruelty in my mind.
I have electricity in my igloo so I'm using it.
For the record, I don't want anyone thinking I'm being judgemental about how you keep your birds. My curiosity is more practical in nature. That you have lights and heat and chose to use them is of less concern to me here than if you could not have birds at all unless you chose to do so. There are two questions here.......wouldn't or couldn't? If couldn't, then that says there is a line where birds simply could not survive. I'm just curious how far north that line might be. If nothing else, practical advice for others who live where you do to follow.
BTW, if I was to offer any advice in this regard it would be if you do chose to use lights to extend the active period, I'd start the day early and let it end with the natural light of dusk so they would be on the roost and ready to settle in when the lights go dim.
Heat lamps and such.........OK, provided they are secure. With adult birds my main concern would be fire if one got knocked off or damaged, which could happen. A secondary benefit of ANY heat you provide is heat will not only warm things up, but will also dry things out, helping to drive moisture out of your building.
Another question for those who use lights and heat....what happens if the power goes out? Do you have backup generators?
Hm, I wonder how far north @Alaskan is, and @vehve in Finland...
Curious......Is the heat light red? Why would you only provide heat 14 hours a day?
I believe white light is needed for lay thru winter.....
.....and, I'm assuming your birds are under a year old, pullets usually lay thru their first winter anyway, lights or not.
Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting.
If my power goes out they'll just have to deal with it.
In 20 years of living here I've never had an outage last more than a few hours at most. Maybe 6 hours at the absolute most and then that was a rare occurrence.
But I can't imagine losing light for one day causing any serious harm.
I provide the secured heat lamp for light and a warm up for them. I suppose I could add full time heat but this is working so far.
I'm certainly no expert on chicken raising in the far north.
I do know others use supplemental light.
I see it in my neighbors coop when I drive by.
I understand the curiosity aspect but I'm guessing you'll need to use your google Fu and find a scientific study somewhere if there is one.
I know there are people in Fairbanks that raise chickens and that's 9+ hours drive north of me.
And much colder and less daylight.
Finland is of similar latitude to Alaska.
I can't imagine someone up here not adding supplemental light and at least trying for some eggs.
My biggest fear In regards to my chickens is that a brown bear gets after them.
Other than a large caliber bullet the only deterrent for them is an electric fence.
I'm looking into that for next year.
It will also keep moose out of my new garden I'm planning.
While there are plenty of Alaskans choosing to live without power and running water most of us on the road system here have such luxuries.
I know there is the reality show in McCarthy where they raise animals off grid.
But I don't know about chickens.
Of course it matters not to me as I have power and choose to use it.
I work in the extreme arctic flying to work for 3 weeks then flying homework 3 weeks off.
Chickens would not survive there in wintertime. But not just because of lack of light.
It gets real cold and real windy.
Long periods of both.
I've only seen -62*f personally but know others have seen -80*f.
I've seen wind chills down to-100*f and colder.
Also ground blizzards are common there.
Any crack will see snow infiltrate.
Whole pickup truck cabs packed full because a smoker left a window cracked 1/4".
So your coop couldn't be ventilated traditionally.
Plus the storms last for several days sometimes.
Here's a good picture of my work truck after such a storm.
Yeah....My Brother worked up North and a friend moved to Yellowknife..........Not to many understand how COLD, cold really is....
I'm not exactly far north, but I do deal with limited daylight, due to low elevation, forest to the west, hills to the east, and stormy weather. Most days the sun isn't up till about 7 and is behind the trees by about 5:00. If the day is particularly stormy, it's more like 7:30 to 3:30. The birds are just fine, and most that aren't at some stage of molt are still laying. No supplemental lights or anything.