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Heat Lamps

As more people raise backyard chickens, pigs, and other small animals, use of heat lamps is on the rise. Lamps are an efficient way to keep small critters warm, but as with any electrical appliance or heat source, they need to be used carefully.

  • Respect the bail: Heat lamps have a wire case around the bulb called the "bail." It keeps flammable material away from the bulb. Choose a lamp with a sturdy bail, and never remove or alter it.
  • Buy good equipment: Good-quality heat lamps are UL approved, with ceramic collars, metal deflectors, and a thick electrical cord.
  • Ask an expert about bulb strength and height: Lamps range from 25 watts to 250 watts and usually hang from rods or chains at various heights. The combination you need depends on what animals you are warming. Don't guess. Find an expert on your animals and find out for certain.
  • Fasten tightly: The lamp must be securely connected to something that won't easily tip, blow, or fall over. It’s not safe if the lamp assembly can easily slip apart on its own, or be knocked over by a person, pet, or the animals you’re warming.
  • Electrical smarts: Plug your heat lamp into an AFCI or GFCI-equipped outlet that can handle its wattage, and keep it sheltered from water. (Outdoors, make sure it’s designed to be used outside, and that it’s safe from wind and weather.)
  • Out of sight: Try to avoid using the lamp overnight or when you can't monitor it, and make sure there is a working smoke detector nearby.

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