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evander's avatar

Heat lamp necessary for grown hens on 15 degree (f) night?

Asked by evander (455 points ) January 13th, 2011

We have 25 hens that sleep in a closed-in, but somewhat drafty henhouse in North Carolina. We’ve had nights in the low 20s, but more regularly in the upper 20s. The hens have been very hardy in the cold, with little to no drop in egg production, and no signs of other cold-related issues. Tonight it is supposed to get unusually cold—into the mid teens. Do I need to run a heat lamp out to the hen house? We have rhode island reds, golden comets, and auracanas—all full grown. I have some concerns about predation but am not sure if the light would even attract attention here in the country. I assume most animals will be burrowed in for the chill anyway. (sorry, i’m not sure why that text above has a line through it).

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8 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Heat lamps are infra-red – - -little or no “light” . The heat and reducing the drafts will help keep the hens warm. Don’t get anything too close to heat lamp.

marinelife's avatar

It depends. The hens are likely to stop laying and may go into moult if it stays too cold.

evander's avatar

I have a lamp I use for younger chicks, which is what I would be using tonight. It is not infra-red. At the very least I plan on trying to deal with some of draftiness of the coop; I need to decide whether the light is necessary though. I’d like egg production to not fall off for any long period time, but the weather is also supposed to warm up in the following days.

crisw's avatar

Night light will throw off their laying cycle more than the cold will- if they do need supplemental heat I would go with the infrared,

Coloma's avatar

Right @marinelife

One or two nights won’t throw them into a molt or increase egg producton, but, if kept under light more than 12 hours a day it will alter their natural patterns.

I kept a lamp on in my barn once for a few weeks in the dead of winter and my geese started laying again. Messed up their cycles.

If the hens are roosting next to each other they should have extra body heat going on, but, they can get frostbite on their combs and wattles in the extreme cold.

Watch for blackening combs and wattles, and, if they do freeze you may have to ‘dub’ them. Cut off the combs and wattles.

ccrow's avatar

I’m in Maine, and I don’t use any supplemental heat for my hens… the coop is insulated, and I only have 8 hens, but their heat keeps the coop noticeably warmer than outside. I’m certainly no expert, but if they’ve been doing ok with 20s, they’re probably ok with a little lower. I’d probably give them something like black oil sunflower seeds for extra calories/energy. And addressing the drafts would be good… do you look at the backyard chickens forum at all? Lots of helpful info there.

Coloma's avatar

@ccrow Makes a good point. FEED them up before bed with extra scratch grains, as much as they can eat in the hour or so before they go to roost.

mkelle11's avatar

We have had hens for several years, and we’ve always provided a heat lamp. However, we usually average 10 to -20 this time of year, and some choose to sleep outside (Stupid birds) and do fine as long as they are otherwise healthy, well fed, and choose to roost somewhere protected from the wind. I wouldn’t worry too much about yours – as long as they have clean food,water, and a break from the wind they should be fine. The only thing I would try to keep an eye out for is frostbite. It’s common to see it on roosters (And some breeds of hens, like the Leghorn) with large, single combs that are kept in unheated hen houses, and in this case generally doesn’t do them long term harm. It is advised that you make perches thick enough that they can sit on them and get all of their toes in their feathers, however – Otherwise you sometimes see frostbitten toes, which can be very severe. If you notice discoloration and/or lack of heat in the birds combs (If they have large ones) or feet, I would get a heat lamp and maybe wrap the perch with an old towel.

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