should we use a heat lamp


9 Years
Jul 29, 2010
We have a heat lamp that we used for the chickens when they were chicks and since its getting really cold at night I was thinking about putting it in the coop but my dad thinks that it will just make it worse because they won't be able to adjust to the cold and it will make it colder for them when they go outside... is this true?



9 Years
Jun 4, 2010
N. Ontario CANADA
from the dozens of questions I have asked I have gathered that yes it is true, but those living in colder climates say as long as you don't keep them overly warm during winter they will be fine.

I have a heat lamp in my coop, winter temps here where I live drop to -30's very often, Everyone I have talked to has told me to be sure the coop is draft free, draft free, draft fee...with plenty of ventilation. some insulate their coops some don't, some provide light, some don't. Its all on what you prefer.

I put my heat lamp facing the roost where they huddle together. its already down to -12F here. I think more people will give you better ideas on what you should do. Heat lamps are a cause for coop fires, so if you use it be sure to double, triple clamp it in case it comes unhooked in or area or other. BYC members with more experience will guide you better than I can.

Good luck



11 Years
Jun 17, 2008
Middle Tennessee
Hey there! We don't get -30's (thankfully!) here, but we do use supplemental heat when it is cold.

How big is your coop? For our very small coops we use reptile heat tape, which uses low wattage, is very safe, waterproof, etc. We attach it to the coop ceilings with electrical tape. Now this stuff only really works well in a smaller space, especially one that is well-insulated (as our small coops are). Last night it was 26 here, and my mini coops easily maintained 20+ degrees over that with the vents half open. . . keeping my younger birds warmer until they are fully feathered and ready for winter.

Hope that helps. My coop pages have a brief mention of the type of heating we use in each one.


Free Ranging
10 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
I don't know where you are so I have no idea what yoor climate is like. Chickens wear a permanent down coat. Heat is usually much more of a problem that cold is. Now when it gets down to -30F, that is a little different situation. The danger in cold is frostbite, usually comb and wattles, rarely the feet. Your enemies are moisture and drafts. Those small elevated coops for just a few chickens often pose harder problems to keep chickens in during really cold weather than the larger walking coops built on the ground.

I suggest you read Pat's articles on cold coops and ventilation. She gets a bit technical in some places in the cold coop one, but even if you don't do the calculations, I think she does a great job on the topic. I think they are both well worth a read.

Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

Cold Coop (winter design) page:

few years I will get a colder spell, but my usual low in winter is in the single digits Fahrenheit. I have a well-ventilated coop that is draft free where the chickens roost. My ventilation openings are above where the chickens roost. That allows a good exchange of air without them being hit with a breeze. I do not supply heat. They have not needed it. Here is a photo of mine taken when the outside temperature was +8 degrees fahrenheit. Mine don't mind the cold I get here, but they do not like the wind or snow. I don't get enough snow for them to get used to it, but I have plenty of wind and they have never gotten used to that.



Heavenly Grains for Hens
9 Years
Jun 8, 2010
Pacific NW- where the Douglas Firs grow
What I would worry about is what if your power goes out during a cold spell? They will suffer if they haven't built up that down coat by being colder all along.

I will offer a 60-100 watt light bulb (not heat lamp) in some of my coops during our annual two week 20 degree spell, but I wouldn't do it if I routinely experienced 20 degrees.

It is really a risk for fire. I once had a heat lamp explode outside under a tarp when it was raining. I had it directed into a hutch for some older chicks. Fortunately I noticed the light was out about 5 minutes after it happened (I had looked out the window 5 minutes before).

The chicken breed that you have does make a difference, though. Here's a chart that has cold hardiness on it:


Love My Chickens
10 Years
Jul 28, 2009
Floyds Knobs, Indiana
My Coop
My Coop
I do offer supplemental heat in the winter, but I consider my chickens pets and would do the same for my dogs or cats if they lived outdoors. Last winter we dropped to single digits, and my girls still went outside (although they didn't hang out for long periods of time outside unless it got above 20 degrees or so F). I heard/read many people saying how it was "bad for chickens" to provide any supplemental heat, but I've never seen any proof (in writing or with my birds). Maybe if I you were keeping their coop a balmy tropical temperature and they were going from THAT down to icy arctic outdoor temps, I could see the "resistance" thing. But my girls certainly had no problems going from 35 degrees in the coop (and actually my windows helped raise the temp to about 40 on sunny days) down to the teens outside, and I felt more at ease.
From what I've read, hardy breeds have few problems surviving down to zero degrees and below even if you keep them draft free (and make sure they have unfrozen water available).


9 Years
You're wasting money and taking a chance of burning down you chicken's coop to use a heat lamp when it is not needed. Chicken prefer cold to warm--they're dressed for it. As long as they can get out of the weather and their shelter is well ventilated they will do just fine. There are only 3 weather related problems with keeping chickens: water freezes, eggs freeze and the keeper freezes taking care of the first two. As far as the birds being cold--mine go to 20 below and never have had a problem other than the 3 things I wrote above.
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