I don't use heat period. Well, that's not completely true as I do incubate and brood chicks so do have an electric bill in spring.
North East Kingdom of Vermont. That's climate zone 3, forget if a or b is the colder one but on the colder side of zone 3. This winter has been unusually balmy with snow melting as fast as we get it. Lowest so far has been single digits below 0F at night and single digit high days- last few have been sunny and low 30's F. Regardless, I do the same each year for winter- make a wind shield on two side to block prevailing Northern winds. Done with the heated water. Been using the rubber livestock bowls as I'm home most days and even if not the birds are trained to drink in morning and I make sure to get home in time to give water before roosting. May figure out a heated bucket with nipples in the future.
They heard the side shed door open and know I'm likely bringing some sunflower seed or mix cracked corn and sunflower in afternoon pre roost. Read this post so went out to take these photos. 10 minutes ago, 31F and still sunny. Gave them pre roost treat early to grab these pics and post.
To right you see the lean-to I put up as temporary winter shelter- reused tin and $40 worth of pressure treated 2x4 as I'll reuse it later.
The path I shoveled out to and under favorite bush. There is hay under there but not quite enough sun to melt the thin layer of snow left on it.
A look at their severe day shelter area- it's basically one large well aired coop. Tarp on one side and the lean-to just over the coop I move about in better weather. The two post were sunk a foot in and I used three wooden stakes on ground end to hold it from wanting to tip/slide forward prior to putting on the three sheets of tin.
Yeah, snow on the nest box lid as they never laid prior to the solstice. Hopefully I'll be brushing off that snow to collect by February....
Heat coops if you want. Keep birds locked in coops if you want. Just sayin' the birds prefer to be outside. That in corner past hanging feeder is a old wash tub with wood ash in it for bathing. Black box near nest end is a tamper proof bait box with chunx poison bait in it.
Just how I do it and some food for thought
Edit: Non snow months it's just the coop dragged about with ridding lawn mower and portable 165' electric poultry netting. Lucked out with this fenced in area. The owners used to have two collies so this area is the old kennel.
Edited by Egghead_Jr - 1/8/16 at 12:27pm