Why Heat Lamps?

Why Heat Lamps? by Mike Fidler

Have you ever lost a batch of nestlings because they fledged too early on a cold winter’s day?

Or lost a hen which became egg bound during a cold snap?

Or lost a bird with some kind of bug, but you could not catch up to treat?

Or simply worry about your birds when it is wet, windy and cccccoooold!!

As we come into winter these are questions you might have if you live in temperate Australia.

A simple solution is to fix heat lamps in your aviaries. You can then deploy them if the conditions require it. The idea is not to run the heat lamps all the time, but do so strategically during the coldest part of the year.

It’s very easy to do, all you have to do is string some electrical cable across the top with a junction box above each aviary and a cable hanging down into the aviary with a heat lamp on the end leaving it approximately 25cms from the ground. The vertical cable should be supported by a length of chain so that the weight of the lamp isn’t fully on the cable as in the image at right. Note – it is advisable to get a trained electrician to do the cabling and connections. To be most effective you could have a patch of clean coarse sand under the heat lamp as this will absorb and re-radiate the heat. 

At the power input end, plug the cable into a timer so that you can easily control when the heat comes on and off. During the coldest parts of winter we routinely have ours coming on at dawn and going off at 10.00am. On a cold day all the birds come down for a warm up before they start the day, and also, we have finished feeding the birds by 10.00am too; so if there are any problems we can just switch off the timer and leave the heat on full time. Birds which are not well, like the unhappy Pictorella below, may hang around longer.

An unhappy Pictorella enjoying a warm spot

On cold winter nights you might have the heat  lamps come on about 4.30pm and stay on all night until about 8am. This will help early fledged young birds or sick birds get through the night so that you can deal with them.                                     

Until this year we have used 100 watt infrared lamps, but they are sometimes hard to purchase and we have moved onto using the 80watt ceramic heaters that the reptile people use. There are several options available.                                                                                                           

So, think about installing heat lamps. You might only use them occasionally but if they save a clutch of young birds or a prized breeder it will be worth it.

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