spiritpots

Songster
May 17, 2018
81
182
127
East Central Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
I live in Minnesota and last year was my first winter with chickens. After much reading about the pros and cons of heating a coop I decide not to add supplemental heat due to my heavily wooded property... a fire would be devastating. My coop is about 30 sq. ft. and I had four chickens last winter. I now have six so there will be a couple more bodies creating heat in the coop this year. I also added 1/2" wood siding to the entire coop this summer, which should help retain the heat a bit as well.

Like much of the country we had a spell of extremely cold weather in January with actual daytime temps of -28 F (not windchill) for a few days in a row. The inside temp of the coop was about the same as outside so really cold! I had lined the inside of the coop with straw for a bit of insulation and added some straw to the coop and a couple bales in the run and the girls would huddle by it. The girls managed OK in the cold and did venture out into the attached run every day but I'm really questioning if I want them to be that cold again if we have a repeat of last winter. Does anyone have any experience with an infrared radiant heater like the Sweeter Heater? I'm not looking to keep the coop above freezing but perhaps having something that could safely warm the coop a bit when it drops below zero. On a side note, if I were to add supplemental heat to the coop I would not line the interior with straw like I did last year. Any thoughts are very welcome!
 

slordaz

hatchaholic
Apr 15, 2015
3,420
6,337
592
Idaho
I just add a bit of hay for them in one corner but have yet to see them use it other than for laying after going on 3 years, the cold affects us more than it does them, as long as they have fresh water they can get to and sufficient ventilation they do fine, ones that aren't babied get more downy feathers in to insulate them. here we get to -30 before wind chill too
 

wamtazlady

Crowing
6 Years
Jul 18, 2013
1,395
1,530
276
Kalispell MT
Remember this important thing. A dry chicken is a warm chicken. If you warm up your coop but neglect to vent out all that moist air from therm breathing and pooping, your chickens will be cold. Chickens carry around a lovely down blanket that keeps them warm and toasty in all but the coldest weather. As long as you keep their feathers from ruffling from drafts they generally stay warm. Mine are outside in the run on the coldest of days. I have 3 sides of the run covered in clear plastic to keep any breezes off the birds.

Now to be honest, I don't think I have had chickens in -28 degree weather. Coldest I remember is -22. At that temperature the chickens are not bothered at all with the cold. They are outside all day doing chicken things. I guess if you insist on heating the coop anything is safer than a regular heat lamp. Please use a ground fault outlet. They actually make special outlets for high dust areas like a coop. If you live in an area that loses power during the winter adding heat might cause issues. If the chickens are used to heat and all of a sudden don't have heat then they will not be able to deal with the cold. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
 

spiritpots

Songster
May 17, 2018
81
182
127
East Central Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
Remember this important thing. A dry chicken is a warm chicken. If you warm up your coop but neglect to vent out all that moist air from therm breathing and pooping, your chickens will be cold. Chickens carry around a lovely down blanket that keeps them warm and toasty in all but the coldest weather. As long as you keep their feathers from ruffling from drafts they generally stay warm. Mine are outside in the run on the coldest of days. I have 3 sides of the run covered in clear plastic to keep any breezes off the birds.

Now to be honest, I don't think I have had chickens in -28 degree weather. Coldest I remember is -22. At that temperature the chickens are not bothered at all with the cold. They are outside all day doing chicken things. I guess if you insist on heating the coop anything is safer than a regular heat lamp. Please use a ground fault outlet. They actually make special outlets for high dust areas like a coop. If you live in an area that loses power during the winter adding heat might cause issues. If the chickens are used to heat and all of a sudden don't have heat then they will not be able to deal with the cold. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Thanks for mentioning power outages. We live in a rural area with above ground power lines so our electricity goes out often. Losing supplemental heat in the coop would be hard on the chickens. I put plastic up on two of the three exposed run walls to block the wind and it worked very well. I use the deep litter method in the coop and it was very dry all winter. In addition to the coop's permanent open ventilation I generally leave the windows propped open year round unless there's a big snow storm. My run is very secure so I leave the pop door open all the time, too, so the girls and come and go whenever they like. I did close it last year when the temps dropped below -5 overnight. I probably did that more for myself, though, than the girls!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
71,287
72,512
1,557
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
When thinking about heating your coop...imagine this:
Put on all your heaviest winter gear, down coat, carhart pants, wool hat and scarf...
(not boots because chickens have specialized circulation to keep their feet from freezing)
...then sit in your house next to the wood stove.
How's that gonna feel, eh? :gig
@bobbi-j says it better, but you get the idea ;)
 

ChickConcierge

Chirping
Aug 29, 2019
23
85
59
Michigan
I hang Sweeter Heaters over the roost in the winter when it gets really cold. I raise and lower them as needed. My hens have the option to roost away from the heat if they want so I leave it up to them to decide. We also have a portable generator for when the power goes out which was a great point raised by Wamtazlady. Hope this helps.
 
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