Topic of the Week - Coop Heating and Fire Safety

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sumi, Dec 10, 2017.

  1. sumi

    sumi Égalité

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Pic by @aoxa
    In the winter months many concerned chicken keepers provide supplemented heat for their flocks, usually in the shape of a heat lamp. This practice can unfortunately prove to be a bigger curse than blessing for the birds, as heat lamps, along with other electric appliances in the coops, pose a big fire risk. Therefor this week I would like to hear you all's thoughts, tips and advice on supplemental heat in the coop and especially fire safety. Specifically:

    - If/when supplemental heat is necessary.
    - Safety precautions to take when providing heat.
    - Non-electric methods to keep the coop comfortable for the flocks.

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  2. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    IMG_3315.JPG Another good topic..:frow
    This one might cause some Heat...?

    I run Heat here although it's not that warm..I use a Heat lamp and not over the Roost..Its double chained and zip tied secure..My Birds have Respritory disease and without a bit of heat they develop symptoms...Lost a Hen during colder rain in September..Heat lamps are dangerous, so is almost anything that takes electricity...I have Heat also for my Call Ducks..That is secure behind a tiny gauged wire Box my Husband built so the Ducks can not get close to the lamp at all...That shed is only used in Cold temps below -15C...
    It's a risk for sure....:old...
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
    Bridger Davis likes this.
  3. Trish1974

    Trish1974 Crowing

    Mar 16, 2016
    North Central IN
    My Coop
    I am way too fire-paranoid to heat my coop. I have a tight, draft free coop of which the north and west sides are blocked by a barn - blocking most the winter winds. I grew up on a farm in northern Indiana and my mom always kept chickens, in an unheated coop, with no problems. The way I see it chickens can't be too sensitive to cold or so many of us northerners wouldn't keep them.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I don't heat the coop/birds, IMO it's untenable and unnecessary for my situation.
    Some folks live in places where it is necessary.

    Heat lamps with chickens are extremely dangerous given their very hot exposed surface and the proximity to flammables...bedding and dust.
    Did you know that dust in the air can catch on fire exposed to a hot enough source?
    There are safer options.

    Any electric in a coop can be dangerous given the dust that birds generate.
    The source itself and any connections made at receptacles, extension cords, power strips, etc.

    I do heat the waterer and use a brooder heater for chicks in early spring and also use a timed light for winter laying.
    All connections are outside the coop area itself, in the storage part of coop shed, so birds cannot access them.
    My power source is GFCI protected and I check and clean all connections regularly.
  5. Cluckies

    Cluckies Crowing

    Jul 3, 2014
    My Coop
    I have a flat panel heater in the henhouse that comes on at 0, goes off at 10 degrees. It heated the henhouse from -24 last year to approx. 7 f degrees. So it does not heat to 50 degrees, if the electricity goes out, they will be fine, they are acclimated, this just takes the edge off in extremely cold weather.

    -In the run, if needed (someone is molting, or below -10 degrees) I'll turn on a heat lamp. I have dirt/sand below it, no shaving.
    -It is zip tied to the pen.
    -I have a cage made of hardware cloth over it, which I truly believe is needed. It keeps feathers from flying up, hitting the bulb starting on fire and dropping into the bedding. or a wing catching fire and, and...

    -Also my last bulb fell out of the metal holder, yes, it can happen. luckily my "cage" caught the bulb thank goodness. photos below.

    - 20161221_135521.jpg 20161221_135530.jpg 20161221_135553.jpg 20171208_212302.jpg If you do heat with a bulb? Do it extremely safely. Check bulb, set up, and connections very carefully before each use.
  6. greggooo

    greggooo Happy Chickens!

    Aug 29, 2017
    Woodstock, NY
    My Coop
    Great idea!!!
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I use heated bases for winter waterers, and in spring, a very well secured heat lamp for new chicks in their separate area. I don't heat the coop. I have a light on a timer for the winter.
    My coop wiring was upgraded by a licensed electrician last summer; all the wiring is in cables to prevent damage from rodents (who has rodents?) and GFI on everything. It's as safe as we can make it.
  8. Farmer Connie

    Farmer Connie All My Friends Have Hoofs

    Feb 28, 2017
    Florida Peninsula
    My Coop
    greggooo and nminusyplusm like this.
  9. Folly's place

    Folly's place Free Ranging

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I'm also unwilling to mess with electricity in any way, so no home made water heaters or anything else! Mary
  10. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Do I heat my coops? In a word...No. Nope. Nada. Nyet. Nein.

    Well, that's more than one no, but the photos below explain why I will never ever use a heat lamp again in a coop. I did it once. The first winter with my very first small flock. They were just moved to the outdoors, and then we got hit with a really big cold snap.

    Worried about our little ladies (who had just started laying), we put a small flood lamp in new socket, attached with bungees to the rafter, in the coop. It was supplied by electricity from a heavy duty back porch GFCI socket through a new outdoor heavy rated extension cord.

    Some time in the night, between midnight when I went to bed and 7am when my husband ate breakfast at the nook window facing that direction, then went to work, the whole thing had burned down, to the ground, to ash pit, like a roman candle. There was NOTHING left of the coop, or hens who never had a chance, but warm smoldering ash when I went out at daylight (around 8:30 am).

    The extension cord was melted about 1/3 of the way back to the house. The breaker was thrown at the socket and at the main box. NOBODY saw anything. Heard anything. Smelled anything.

    It was located by our firewood pile, our neighbors firewood pile, and under several plum trees (which we've since had to remove as they were badly damaged).

    After that experience, and similar of several close chicken friends, I have gone to brooding solely with hens as I will never, ever, use heat lamps with chicks/young pullets again. My broody raised chicks acclimate to the cold quickly without any outside source other than momma's fluffy warming hutch. Broody hatched and raised chicks grow faster, healthier, lay sooner than my artificially brooded chicks do (and that second spring I had a side by side last ever of artificially brooded chicks as I literally stayed awake at nights worried the garage would go down...I kept checking.) It blows your mind to see the little fluff balls running around in sub-freezing weather in their little down jackets just fine.

    It is sobering to think how close we came to repeating Mrs. O'Leary's experiment.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017

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