-35 below zero tomorrow night...Break down and put up heat lamp?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by NorthChicken, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. NorthChicken

    NorthChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    I am up here in Caribou, ME next to the Canadian border. We are supposed to get some cold temps tomorrow night, nearing -35 below zero (that is without windchill). I do not have an insulated coop, but it is very draft free and dry, and I do have the run covered in clear tarp. I really don't want to run a heat lamp, I don't have electricity in the coop, but could run an extension cord if I need to. There are 6 chickens to the coop, which is about 4x6, and 5 feet tall. Should I just let them cuddle or should I break down and put a heat lamp out in the coop tomorrow night? I have a 250 watt red light, but am so petrified of fires, as I have about 6 inches of shavings and hay on the coop floor. They have not had any heat at all since winter hit, and the coldest we've seen so far is about -25 below, which they all seemed to fair well through (although I'm sure they weren't too thrilled with the temps!!) I'm ready for summer!!

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  2. HershelMS

    HershelMS Out Of The Brooder

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    Most chickens once they are fully feathered out tend to be able to retain heat pretty well. draft free and dry are both beneficial. In colder areas, it is always a good idea to provide a heat source when temperatures fall below freezing. Another thing you can do is downsize your coop so the chickens basically have to pack themselves in like sardines... this allows them to share body heat and create a thermal barrier in the remaining area of the coop... but yes to your question. the heat lamp is a great idea. Guidelines: 150 watts, red so it will allow them to rest as well and offer less stress and picking. Make sure the lamp is high enough that they can not get directly against it. chickens tend to pack in around each other and the inside most bird will get pressed against the lamp. My heat lamps in my chicken coops are 28 inches off the floor. 14 inches for my quail coop. also for a cold environment in the winter season (when temps stay below freezing for weeks or months) it is always a good idea to up their protien a bit. treat them with a half cat food half chicken food mixture about twice a week. they are less active and burn less calories, true enough, but they also convert alot of excess protien to fat... a good layer of protection against the cold :)...
     
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    I have to respectfully disagree with a bit of the advice given in this post.
    1. "In colder areas, it is always a good idea to provide a heat source when temperatures fall below freezing." - Not only is it not "always a good idea", it's also entirely unnecessary. Your chickens have their own down coats and are plenty warm. Have you ever felt underneath all those feathers next to the skin? Toasty warm. Do your chickens go outside during the day? If so, try this - put on all of your outdoor gear. Now go outside for 10 or 15 minutes. The coldest part of any day would be a good time to do this. When you come back in, leave all your gear on. How comfortable are you? You get to take off your extra layers. Your chickens don't. It's much better for them to have consistency in their temps, even if it's cold.

    2."Another thing you can do is downsize your coop so the chickens basically have to pack themselves in like sardines... this allows them to share body heat and create a thermal barrier in the remaining area of the coop... " - I don't know about your chickens, but mine aren't really thrilled about going out in the snow, so they spend quite a bit of time in their coop. They live in an 8x16' shed with 8' ceiling. (there are 17 of them in there) If you downsize your coop so they have to pack in like sardines, this will cause overcrowding and this will bring problems of its own. Do you notice how puffed up your chickens are? That is their "thermal barrier" as such. The fluffing helps trap their body heat. That's why it's recommended for us humans to wear several thin layers instead of one thick layer when we're out in the cold. If you're considering making your coop smaller so they have to pack in like sardines, try spending, oh, a few hours in your bathroom (or whatever the smallest room in your house is) with one or two other people. Try it for a couple of hours to see how it goes. No TV, no internet, no books, just you and your buddies with nothing to do but huddle together.

    You are right to be afraid of fire. There are several threads on here that talk about coop fires having been started from heat lamps. Your chickens will be fine. Mine have survived temps that cold. It's been awful here, too, and I'm also ready for summer. If you have further questions, this is a good thread to help you find ways to cope with the cold and your chickens: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/421122/think-its-too-cold-for-your-chickens-think-again

    Hang in there - every day is one day closer to spring...
     
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  4. HershelMS

    HershelMS Out Of The Brooder

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    Here, its not the "cold" that is so much the issue as it is the humidity. I lost 5 chickens one year due to pneumonia. cold is one thing. cold and wet is another. the heat lamp serves as a heat source as well as dehumidifier. so i based my opinion above on my environment and what has worked for me.
     
  5. HershelMS

    HershelMS Out Of The Brooder

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    but then again, our summers. we have to wait until the sun goes down before we give them water... so they dont lay hard boiled eggs {=o)
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Does the MS in your username stand for Mississippi? If so, I'm guessing that's where you're from? Your summers are way different than ours. It gets "hot" (sometimes it breaks 100 - more than a few days of that is record-breaking) and it gets humid, but humidity is not a constant, day-to-day thing and probably not as high as yours. Our environments are entirely different, so are our experiences. I suppose with your high humidity, ventilation in the coop doesn't help much?

    When I first got chickens, I would button up the coop tight for the winter and put in a heat lamp. I had more problems with frostbite then than I do now with no heat, no insulation, and a vented coop. It's no warmer now than it was then, but the humidity did build up and cause a lot of problems in my coop. I don't really know if this is scientifically right or not, but it seems that when it's quite cold and a heat lamp is added, humidity tends to be more of a problem. Maybe the air "freeze dries" when it's this cold. I really don't know. I just know what I have learned by experience.
     
  7. HershelMS

    HershelMS Out Of The Brooder

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    bobbi,Yes, i am from mississippi. Venting the coop doesnt help much. it seems to actually draw in moisture. and it gets so hot here, you will see a dog chasing a cat and both of them will be walking. On cold days here (low teens) you can carry a spoon in your hand out of a warm room out into the warm outside air and instantly forms a frost. Thats how much moisture is in the air. In your area, your birds have a greater chance at getting frostbite than we do here for sure! here, we never get a long enough duration of cold for our mild snows to even stick. Ground stays pretty thermal year round here. Early on when i first set up my own coops at our new home, i was backed up to my barn where i had access to electrical service. so i went ahead and added light fixtures to the coops.
    I started with 250 watt heat lamps and just like you said! they did more damage than good :(... 150 watt bulbs seems to be a happy medium for this area. enough ambient heat to keep the coop dry and the temp in the coop on the coldest nights doesnt get below 40. Like you said earlier, chickens have some serious down they really don't need the heat. but here, they need the drying potential more than anything... This is unusual for this time of year, but i have two chicks on the ground by one of my broody hens... she keeps them just as warm and dry as any brooder i have ever made. When i say broody... this girl, i tell ya! I can put 3 ping pong balls in a nest she will starve herself to death trying to hatch em!!! but she is a great mom and I give her a few eggs every once in a while to let her be a mama... She always does great... Im just kinda worried with these two, it being this late in the year.
     
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Like you said, the mama does a better job than any brooder a person could make. Since she's such a good mama, I'll bet your chicks will be fine. Sure glad I don't have to deal with your humidity. I wouldn't mind a little of the warmth, though, right now. This much cold this early on is pretty unusual for us. I want global warming back!
     
  9. Ciqala

    Ciqala Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When we go well below zero, I put a couple of hand or foot warmers in an old sock and hang it from one of the rafters above their roosts. It doesn't bring the temp inside up too much, but certainly makes a noticeable difference. Our coop isn't all that big, nor is the ceiling all that high [maybe 4 1/2 - 5 feet high}. I also stuff the bottom full of fluffed hay, right up to their roosts.
     
  10. humphrey farms

    humphrey farms Chillin' With My Peeps

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