On Heating Coops

While the actual number of structure fires that may have something to do with the use of a heat lamp or space heater in a chicken coop are very few, those devices do occasionally cause financial loss and sadly, animal deaths every year nationwide.

There are repeated instances of owners keeping dog kennels, rabbitries, chickens, or young livestock with supplemental heat. The problem with this is that owners, while doing this with the absolute of best intentions, are putting an unattended, heat-producing electrical device in the vicinity of dry bedding. Burning down a barn, kennel, or coop is not a common event, especially when compared to cigarette-caused grass fires, faulty electrical wiring in older homes, or here in Billings possibly a naked man with petrochemicals in a neighbor’s garage (http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/man-taken-to-hospital-after-incident-in-south-side-garage/article_6f248fcc-9849-56c6-9722-b7b310428fb3.html)… but it can happen. 

Magic City Hens (http://MagicCityHens.wordpress.com), the Billings non-profit group who seek to educate and support hen owners in the area, recommend against supplemental heat for outdoor animals. The group’s “Chickens 101” class addresses this issue, and the primary instructor is in a former firefighter with a strong background in animal husbandry. Outdoor pets should be protected against drafts, but experts advise against unattended heat sources.

Whether it is dogs, rabbits, chickens, or other outdoor pets, please seriously consider the potential damage that a fire could do, compared to an uncomfortably cool night. Domestic animals rarely freeze to death, but fire can certainly have that effect. Education is critical!


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Michele Johnson on March 24, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Hi TJ,
    We do NOT use heat lamps and such with our animals, although we have been known to put a vest on our goat when it gets terribly cold. Our friends use heat lamps and also have a certain smoke alarm that goes off in the house if the barn catches on fire. I just thought I’d let you and others know this is an option if they are inclined to want to use a heater. -Michele


    • A remote alarm for smoke/fire is a great idea, Michele!!! I also love the idea of a vest for a small animal – in years past when I was a Barn Manager, we put a snug vest on a very small newborn colt when it was born in a cold snap. Pretty cute!


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