A heat lamp can be a simple, inexpensive way to provide heat to animals during extreme cold. Hanging or clamp mounting heat lamps with a bulb can start as low as $15. Heat lamps can easily warm the area they are aimed at to comfortable temperatures above 70 degrees.
Proper installation is important. Heat lamp mounting should:
- Be high enough animals cannot reach the lamp
- Be secured with a small chain or cable and not hung by the cord
- Be plugged in directly to a grounded outlet
- Be fully fitted with all protective guards and shields
- Be located away from moisture or bedding
- Be tested to see the temperature they produce at animal level is not to hot
A heat lamp can cause some problems that pose a hazard in the barn or shed:
- Heat lamps can produce enough heat to possibly burn the skin of an animal, such as a piglet sleeping under one.
- The heat produced can dry out bedding like shavings and straw, making it more flammable.
- Bulbs can shatter unexpectedly because of moisture or dust on the bulb, leaving broken glass on the floor of the barn or pen.
- Hot broken glass can be hot enough to ignite bedding like shavings and straw, causing a fire.
The alternatives to heat lamps to keep animals warm vary:
- Warming pads can be used to give newborn animals a warm place to lay. The pads should not be used with bedding in case they would overheat, possibly causing a fire.
- Blankets and body socks are available for newborn kids, lambs, up to large horses to help keep them warm.
- Extra bedding like straw will allow animals to have more insulation between them and the cold ground. Pigs will burrow into deep straw to keep warm.
- Keeping animals together will allow them to use their combined body heat to stay warm. Notice how newborn pigs, kids and lambs will lay on each other to stay warm.
Kit Carson County
Golden Plains Area
Colorado State University Extension