Every year, we hear stories of human and animal deaths due to chicken coops and adjacent buildings burning down as a result of a heat lamp fire. Heat lamps in chicken coops are very dangerous. Traditional heat lamps are a fire hazard even when carefully used. With flying, unpredictable animals, heat lamps cannot be made foolproof. When chickens are allowed to acclimate to the cold weather and have adequate food, deiced water, and an insulated coop, they can do well without a heat source. However, cold weather may have an impact on egg production from laying hens.
If you feel you must use a heat lamp, make sure it is secured well so the unpredictable birds don’t knock it loose. Make sure there is nothing combustionable near the heat lamp. While we wouldn’t deem it safe, some new heat lamps on the market are much safer than the old clamp kind. A wall-mounted coop heater, specifically designed with safety in mind, may be a good option.
Inferior extension cords are also a problem. Use an extension cord rated for outdoor use. Any wire or cord placed in a coop should be inside conduits.
When building a coop, you should keep safety in mind for the chickens and yourself. Do not build the coop beside another structure for safety reasons. If the coop or the other structure should catch fire, anything close to it may also catch fire. Be cognizant of the area around the coop. For instance, you don’t want it right in front of your neighbor’s picture window or up against your porch.
In the city of Nevada, you are required to have your coop location inspected and your chickens licensed. Unlicensed chickens may result in a city citation. To license your chickens, come into the police department, fill out an application, get the signatures of the adjacent property owners, and have the location of your coop inspected. Once you have completed all these steps and passed inspection, it is $25 a year. The city allows up to six hens to be kept. No roosters are allowed within city limits.
If you have questions on chicken registration, feel free to reach out to Animal Control Officer Nancy Pritchard at the Nevada Police Department, 515-382-4593, ext.6.