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Posted: 12/13/2023
Lambs in barn standing under a heat lamp

Barn Fire Prevention: 5 Tips for Protecting Livestock with Safe Heat Lamp Practices

We talk often about the importance of keeping animals warm during the winter. Heat lamps are a popular and convenient way to accomplish that, whether you need to warm a chick brooder, goat kids, or sick animals. However, while you work to prevent animals from getting too cold, it's equally as important to prevent catastrophe from occurring. Learn all about these common barn tools including our 5 tips for heat lamp safety.

Young chicks huddle around a Prima Heat lamp

Using Heat Lamps for Livestock

Warmth is critically important in the health of newborn animals. When dams and ewes deliver during the winter, the weather can add one more hurdle to the already critical first hours of life. Heat lamps offer quick, temporary help to enhance a challenging environment and can create a healthier outcome for these tiny animals.

Hypothermia is a huge problem for newborns, but once they are warm and fed, they can build metabolism and maintain body temperature. It always helps to start with clean, warm and draft-free birth areas to encourage mother and child bonding. If the temp drops below 37 degrees C, warm the newborn before feeding. We all know how finicky the weather can be, which is why producers and homesteaders alike keep heat lamps on hand for those extra-frigid nights (instead of waiting to order them when they think they've got a sick animal).

Are Heat Lamps Safe to Leave on All Night?

No: it's not safe to use a heat lamp at night when there is no one to monitor it. While it's inevitable to run into situations when you need a lamp (potentially all night long), it's imperative to use it properly and follow the specific label directions. You'll also want to ensure you have at least one working smoke detector close by – regardless of whether you use the lamp in the daytime or at night.

Two small goat kids standing under a Prima Heat lamp in a barn

Heat Lamp DOs and DON'Ts

When we use heat lamps, we envision them warming up sick or cold animals. Even with the best of intentions, accidents happen, and there are serious precautions we all need to take during installation and ongoing use. For example, a heat lamp that falls on a pile of bedding can catch fire and spread quickly. Animals can bump and break the bulb, or feathers/debris may float up near the bulb to create another fire risk.

And if you're property sits in a rural area, there's a good chance the fire department won't reach you in time to prevent catastrophic damage from even small barn fires. Unsafe lamp use puts complete facilities at risk, including the animals inside.

Avoid the negative consequences from improper heat lamp installation and use with these dos and don'ts:

  1. Quality lamps and enclosures are key. DO look for high-quality lamps as those offer much stronger connection points between the bulb and the fixture, as well as more reliable attachment points for hanging purposes. Quality bulbs – with a guard to enclose the bulb – are essential, too. DON'T use bulbs above 250W.
  2. Not all lamps are created equal. DO look for appropriate indoor/outdoor use labeling based on your needs.
  3. Secure, secure, secure. DO twist the bulb often to be certain it's tightly secured within the lamp. DO use more than one method to secure the fixture (clamp, chain, etc.). Usually you need a heat lamp quickly, but don't skip these imperative steps to secure things properly.
  4. Be picky with placement. DON'T set a lamp on anything flammable (bedding) and definitely don't hang it above a water bucket! Height is important as well. If you have adult animals in the pen near the lamp, DO place it high enough so they can't kick or headbutt the fixture.
  5. Always be ready. As much as you need to have lamps on hand in case the animals need them, you also need someone monitoring the lamps should something go wrong. Again, keep smoke detectors and fire extinguishers nearby.

Prevent and Protect with Prima Heat Lamps

Selecting the highest quality heat lamp will help reduce fire risk. There's one lamp we carry that hits all the right safety notes, and it might be why several of our customers give it a 5-star review. Check out the 15" Prima Heat Lamp by Premier 1.

Common metal heat lamps often get blamed for barn fires. Prima beats the heat (lamp competitors) in every way. Use it for warming lambs, goat kids, chickens, puppies and other animals when they get sick or cold, and do so with the confidence of a stronger and safer protective guard and hanging system. The 16-foot cord even comes with an anti-chew spring wire. The heavy duty plastic shield also keeps animals from damaging the bulb (NOTE: bulbs sold separately).

Does a Reliable Heat Lamp Use a Lot of Power?

The typical heat lamp generally consumes less electricity compared to bar heaters, making it more economical. The heat lamp produces fast heat and is relatively cheap if used short-term. For Prima lamps, choose standard bulbs or infrared (heat) bulbs up to 250 watts. This 250W Bulb is available in both clear and red options, and delivers an average of 6,000 hours of use.

Stay Warm and Hazard-Free this Winter with PBS Animal Health

You've got enough to worry about when you care for livestock. Don't add unsafe bulbs and heat lamp fixtures to that list! For safe, strong and protective lamps, shop PBS Animal Health for the popular Prima Heat Lamp. We've got all the bulbs you need, too. Stock up before the temperatures plunge and be prepared for lambing and kidding season!

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article, and all other articles by pbsanimalhealth is for informational purposes only. This article may have been prepared from multiple sources at the time it was written and is not intended to be used as a sole source of information in making any purchase or specific product use decision. We recommend you always consult with your attending veterinarian to properly diagnose any health-related condition before initiating any prevention or treatment program. Always read and follow each product’s current label instructions and Warnings before use.

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