Using Heat Lamps: Proceed with Caution!

Sabrina Schirtzinger, ANR Educator Knox County

As temperatures get cold livestock owners search for ways to keep their livestock warm. Often livestock owners are in a hurry and think hanging a heat lamp will be temporary. In a hurry they quickly hang the heat lamp up in the corner of a stall using baling twine to keep a newborn kid or day-old chicks warm for the night. This is an accident waiting to happen! With any electrical appliance or heating source they need to be used carefully. 

If you must use a heat lamp, follow these tips:

  1. Purchase a quality heat lamp. Use lamps that are enclosed with a heat lamp guard. If using a lamp outdoors, make sure the lamp is labeled for outdoor use. 
  2. Use high- quality bulbs. Low quality bulbs such as thin glass can shatter.  
  3. Periodically check to make sure that the bulb is tightly secured. 
  4. Avoid using bulbs over 250W. 
  5. Secure the lamp to a panel using chain or a heat lamp clamp. Recommended distance from the lamp to ground or livestock is 20”. 
  6. Make sure the lamp is secured high enough that adult livestock cannot abuse (head butt, kick, or bash) the fixture.
  7. Plug your heat lamp into an Arc Fault Interrupter breaker which will trip if the fixture sparks. 
  8. Keep a fire extinguisher in the barn in case a problem arises. 
  9. Install a loud smoke detector that can be heard at the house that will help to alert you of a fire. 
  10. Never lay a heat lamp on a flammable surface. 

There will be cases where you cannot avoid using a heat lamp. In those situations, never leave a heat lamp unattended overnight.  

Sabrina Schirtzinger, ANR Educator Knox County, can be reached at 740-397-0401 or This column is provided by the OSU Extension Agricultural Safety and Health Team,