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Sunday, June 25 2017 @ 07:31 AM AKDT

Too cold for chickens? Heat lamps aren't needed, instead are a danger

Pets and AnimalsChicken farmers should be careful about installing heat lamps or other artificial warming devices to keep the coops warm. There is a serious risk of fire both in the coop and in your home.

In much of Alaska, and especially in the "Banana Belt" of the Susitna Valley, many breeds of poultry are just fine except in extreme cold. The most vulnerable parts are their combs. Chickens with small combs that are cold-hardy are, among others, Rhode Island Reds, Plymouth Rock, and others with small combs. If they are fully feathered, they will be fine.

While it's true that they need a light source or they will stop laying, they don't need a heat source as much as they need a place that is dry and free of drafts. And fresh, liquid water. This is a problem in an unheated chicken coop, but some solutions include an immersion heater or, as I saw in one coop here in Big Lake, a hotplate under a hubcap, with the waterer on top. I just give them water twice a day, and they seem to be fine with that schedule.

I built a temporary shelter for the chickens using a King canopy, within which I built an insulated box. A sort of coop-within-a-coop. As I write this they are outside their coop in the snow, free-ranging.

Never use an extension cord to supply power to your coop, if you feel you must. Hire a qualified electrician to wire it properly.

Think about this: dry feathers and bedding such as straw is very flammable, as is the wood you may be using for the coop. A fault is all it takes. The chickens will be fine; don't burn your house down to make them comfortable. That's why they have feathers.

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Too cold for chickens? Heat lamps aren't needed, instead are a danger | 1 comments | Create New Account
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Too cold for chickens? Heat lamps aren
Authored by: Steve on Saturday, December 20 2014 @ 02:08 PM AKST
Great article. We've been raising chickens here since before I was born, never used a heat lamp or heater. I bet the Colonists didn't either.