I live in CT and have chickens for the first time. I am not sure if I should heat the coop in the winter. Others I know who have already raised chickens in CT are 50-50. Some say yes, others no. Any thoughts out there?
Heat lamps scare me. The glass is so thin and they shatter so easily. To me, its a fire waiting to happen. Maybe I'm ignorant in that but I guess I have been to too many fires over the years. (Spent the evening at one last night.) Anyway, I'm paranoid these days of fires. Even a 75 watt black out bulb will cut down on the chill a fair amount. That's what I use when I need a boost for my coop but then it gets wicked cold where I am during the winter months. Besides, the regular black light bulbs are kinder to the electric bill.
Chickens are a rather hardy critter, given a place to get out of the wind/snow/rain they should be fine ... I'm in Virginia and we do not add any heat or lights to the hen house. We have few banty, a few light breed and the rest heavies.
I've never used a heat lamp for adult chickens. Have a solid coop that breaks the wind and a good layer of straw and they will be fine. There are some breeds out there that don't do well in the cold, and that's worth researching. I've only kept the large, hearty breeds.
I also don't like what a heat lamp does to the electric bill. Just about had a stroke the first time I used one!! The bill went up almost 200% from one 250 red heat lamp. Never used that one again!! Now I use regular 100 watt bulbs for peeps, and after they feather I use a 60 watt until they go to the coop.
Another consideration besides the fire risk. During our winters here in Arkansas our electricity goes out on a fairly regular basis; the price we pay for living in the boondocks. Get your chickens used to being all nice and toasty warm during winter and have a power failure. What you'll have is birds that are ill-equipped to deal with the cold because you have used heat and it has prevented them from developing the full feathering mother nature gives them for winter. They'll get chilled and chilled birds are more prone to becoming ill. In my opinion, best to let them acclimate naturally to the cold weather. Mother Nature really does know best.
*An exception to this would be chicks, but even then if they are with their broody mama, I don't worry about them.
I live in Alaska, and I am not using a heat lamp. Lots of people up here do not. A fellow I talked to who had raised chickens for years said the only winter he had casualties is the year he decided to use heat. A big storm came through and knocked out power for days. The hens weren't acclimated and he lost every one. If you have a backup generator that you would want to use for your coop, you would be ok. It is my first winter with chickens, so it is a bit scary thinking of them out in the cold. They all seem to be fine.
I live on the border of Pa. in New York. It gets pretty cold here...lately 20-30 degrees at night and 30-40's during the day...so far. I've listened to everyone on here and decided not to go with a heat lamp. Our electric goes out alot too. I also have 14 RIR's and they are big! They huddle together on their perch at night and their body heat keeps them warm. I also put down a whole bail of straw in there covered pen for during the day. My coop is too small for all of them to be locked in all day. When I got them I was figuring on losing a few?? Guess I was a good Mother Hen! Jen
We live in the woods of NH. We started out without heat lamps and without constant light. The no light brought in the rats and predators. Also really reduced egg production and since we are an egg farm, that had to change. In our solid wall coop of 10' x 20', we have one spiral light on by the door 24/7. Just two days ago, I turned on the red heat lamp that is over the main food area. Today we have a couple of inches of snow with sleet expected. Although the chickens can go out whenever they want, most of them are preferring to stay inside today. However, a couple had gone out this morning and when they came back in, they ate under the heat before moving off to scratch and preen. We have no loss in egg production this way. The birds are happy, healthy and dry. The red heat lamp is in a brooder lamp. Since everything is on those outlets that have relays in them (gfc?) if a lamp gets funky it switches off. So far, after twenty years plus, we haven't had a fire or frostbite. Heat lamps work for us!
I have t 100 watt blubs in my coop that are on a timer and shut off at 9:00 PM until 5:00 AM . I do this to make then keep laying. Last night the temp only went down to 23 degrees and they seemed fine this morning. 15 chickens 14 eggs. My question is if it gets cold out should I leave the light on all night and will they sleep with the lights on?
I leave a small fluorescent bulb on 24/7. I only turn the red heat lamp on for below forty and wet. The heat lamp gives the birds a place to dry off and warm up after being outside. They move off after they've had enough.