Red Heat Lamp making Chickens Violent!?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cstronks, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 12, 2013
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    So here in NJ we are in the midst of a pretty tough cold snap (10-15 degree nights are expected until Sunday), so I went out and bought a heat lamp, because I have one bird in my flock going through a molt. So, after installing the lamp in the coop with some duct tape and a clamp, I tossed the thing on this afternoon as a test run and got some unexpected results......Birds fighting and pecking at each other, intense stare downs, jumping and clawing with their talons, noises that I haven't heard before and some shrieks that did not sound pleasant. This all happened within roughly a 5 minute span, so I unplugged the thing, and life was back to normal. They walked around, ate together, drank, and just acted like normal chickens.

    My question - what the hell was that about?? I have never seen any behavior like that from my birds, and I don't want to ever see it again. I made sure that I got a red heat lamp so that they did not extend their laying cycle or think the day was extended. I was merely trying to give them some extra warmth while we experience a major cold snap. What was wrong here?? The light is red, out of their reach, 250W bulb...Can anybody offer any advice as to why this happened, and what I should do?? Should I take the light back? Thanks!
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If you can not use or foresee using it another way in the future, such as a heat lamp for brooding? Then sure. Take it back.
     
  3. cstronks

    cstronks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is what I figured, but why would this behavior happen?? I read plenty of people on here who say that they use red heat lamps in cold snaps, so I did the same. Doesn't red calm them down?
     
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Red has always been calming to my chicks in the brooder, much more so than white, that's for sure.

    I couldn't hazard a guess as to why it zoo'd up your gang except for the possibility of just something different. It was hot, light, similar to the sun (guessing). Who knows?

    I don't try to understand all things chickens do and why. Much remains goofiness and weirdness. LOL But, noticing what they do and reacting to how they react? That's just husbandry in my book. Good job.
     
  5. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    The science behind the "red" heat light is that chickens are attracted to blood and of course blood is red. It's also why the water nipples that they sell are red. The red light causes everything to appear red so they're not likely to pick at each others. Blue Kote is sprayed on wounds to make the wound appear blue so the injured bird won't be picked at since the other birds can't see the red.blood.

    I've used these lights in my brooder of course but also over two Dels who where being picked on and needed to grow back their feathers, with no problem. I also had one in the coop when I first started with birds with no problems.

    Questions I would ask are.

    1. What breed/breeds are we talking about? Certain breeds are more prone to pick and don't do well in confinement.

    2. How big is the coop?

    Chickens don't see well in the dark due to the make up of their eyes. It has to do with the "rods" and "cones". Contrary to some belief of the light and eye thing causing them to lay better, it's really has to do with the melatonin. The reduction in light hours of the winter season reduces the melatonin chickens produce, thereby causing egg production to decrease or stop all together.

    I wish you well,

    Rancher
     
  6. JimmyAppleseed

    JimmyAppleseed New Egg

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    Wow that's some scary movie kind of stuff. I recenlty put a red heat bulb in my coop but I did not experience any violent behavior and the coop isnt very big. At large pet stores you can find ceramic heat bulbs that produce no light. They're commonly used with reptiles. This could be a great compromise to keep your chickens warm without freaking them out. Hope everything works out for you.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Imachicklvr2

    Imachicklvr2 Out Of The Brooder

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    Have you tried plugging the lamp in again to see if the first time was a fluke? Perhaps something else set them off and the timing was a coincidence. I have never heard of red light causing a violent reaction. Interesting.
     
  8. JonB

    JonB Out Of The Brooder

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    I wouldn't bother with the heat lamp period. I live in Northern Michigan, and we've been in the teens to below zero for awhile now. Our SLW has been moulting for a couple weeks or so, and has taken the cold well. She's eating and drinking regularly, and doesn't seem to be affected by it. She actually laid a nice, big ol' egg the other day, which was a surprise!
     
  9. mithious

    mithious Chillin' With My Peeps

    X2...here in far northern NH, lowest real temp was -18 F windchill -38 F, same night...chickens are fine! Plus you run the risk of burning down your coop, with your chickens in it...just read a post about a fire from a heat lamp...if your chickens are used to the added heat, then your electricity goes out...they will suffer even worse...if the temp drop is big, they could die from it.

    Wild birds don't even have a coop and they survive, even in Alaska and Canada....I am close to Canada. Having the right ventilation, thus getting the moisture out, and avoiding drafts is far more important to them than artificial heat.

    I did block up some of the vents, so the snow and wind wasn't pouring in, but no added heat. It feels much warmer in their coop than you would imagine, even in sub zero temps!

    Best of luck and yeah, take the light back!
     
  10. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    X3 strangely enough my chickens without a run are laying better than those that have one. My Birchen Marans , EE's and one Sussex seem to do just fine. AND there in these hoops which aren't completely covered.

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