Use of heat lamps to keep coop above freezing?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by adkchickens, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. adkchickens

    adkchickens New Egg

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    Nov 14, 2013
    Hello All,
    I have 9 hens hopefully just a couple of weeks from laying, Barred Rock and Buff Orpington. Our coop is approx. 8' x 6' with 2 6' long perches and 3 nesting boxes. They have an outside run that is approx. 10 x 10. The floor is covered with about 6" of wood shavings. I am in the Adirondack Mt. area where we get some very cold temps, sometimes down to -35. My thought is to try and keep the coop temps as close as I can to above freezing. So far with temps in the teens a few nights this has been possible. When it gets down to below zero temps it may not be. What I've been doing is running either one red heat light when necessary and 2 heat lights as it gets colder. This is both day and night. Question is, how does this light effect the chickens being on sometimes 24 hours a day? When it does get dark outside they do go to roost ok even with a light or 2 on. Mild days like today (28 deg f) I have one white light bulb on and 1 heat light. There is only one window and not that bright in there during the day hence, the white light bulb. Would greatly appreciate any comments on my light/heat practices. Thanks
    Jim
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Unless heat source can be set up to present a very low fire risk and is also reliable even during snow storm event, my suggestion is you let temperatures drift. Even if it means egg production periodically drops with extreme low temperatures. Options I could realize in a coop setting are based on electricity and do pose an unacceptable fire risk. A larger henhouse where heat source is physically separated from the henhouse would be more to my liking.

    You are doing much to prevent stress from low temperatures already. You may find they handle it well.
     
  3. YlwBrchHobbyFrm

    YlwBrchHobbyFrm Out Of The Brooder

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    This is a hot topic around here! We reach those temps around here too, but I don't use a heat lamp. Not only do they not really need it, but disaster could strike should the power go out and birds who are accustomed to heat lamps suddenly have to go without (unless of course you have a generator). There are many, many articles on this forum alone regarding the topic and I know it's been brought up more than once today. I've been sharing my winter chicken keeping post too, just so I don't have to repeat myself too much:
    http://yellowbirchhobbyfarm.blogspot.com/2013/11/combat-cold-lets-talk-winter-chicken.html

    As far as having too much light...debatable. Some say it could stress them and cause picking or could mess with them psychologically or even internally. I have many times forgotten to shut off the light and my birds have been just fine. Baby chicks who have a heat lamp have light 24 hours a day for quite some time and they seem fine.

    If you decide you are going to use the heat lamp 24/7, I would suggest then an infrared light which would be less stressful. And make sure you have a backup source of electricity should the power fail.

    Good luck :)
     
  4. If your getting to negative degrees they will probably want a heat lamp
     
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    No they will not. If they've acclimated to the cold, a heat lamp could do more harm than good. For those of you who live where it gets cold out, think about this: you bundle up to go outside in the cold, and it doesn't feel too bad because you are dressed for it. You come inside, and it feels too hot because you were just out in the cold. At least you can take your coat off. If you're heating the coop and they're going in and out from warm to cold, that's worse for them than steady cold temperatures. The cold is not going to cause problems in healthy chickens as long as they have a well- ventilated draft- free coop so they can get out of the elements.
     
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  6. adkchickens

    adkchickens New Egg

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    Nov 14, 2013
    Many thanks to those who took the time to reply. Yes, I see now that it has been a bit of a hot topic. I think I got the idea from page 134 of Storey's Raising Chickens under preventing frostbite. I think I will cease with using 2 infrared heat lights and just supplement with one at the 35 deg mark in the coop. I know the temps will get down below freezing with this arrangement eventually but will then go with the good article written by Erin. There seems to be so many issues with wintering chickens. Proper ventilation, drafts etc.. What is proper ventilation at -15 deg. or colder? Seems like a loss of natural heat created by the chickens, bedding/compost etc. causing stress. Sorry to carry on and don't want to belabor this topic any further since it probably has been hashed over a lot due to so many variables etc. Thanks again,
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I do not concern myself with drafts since some of my birds deal with direct blizzard conditions and so just fine, especially when such occurs while birds sleep. Blizzard conditions when chickens are awake are potentially more problematic but your first post indicates you are well prepared for that. Ventilation needs to be as needed to prevent accumulation of moisture in air. High humidity can compromise the insulatory value of feathers making to even mild temperature stressful when it comes to birds staying warm.
     

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