advice on heating the coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by the-bird-man, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. the-bird-man

    the-bird-man Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 24, 2010
    land of the sun
    sorry i have to bring this up but i need a little advice on heating the coop. i am bringing home 10 chickens at the end of the month. they are about 4 months old and the guy i am buying them from keeps a heat lamp in the coop. i did not plan on heating the coop but i have to now. i am in usda zone 5b and it will get down to -15 to -10 here. so now i am wondering if i should just heat the coop every year? how cold is too cold? plus it would be nice to keep the water from freezing too. the coop will not be insulated, will have a dirt floor. my breeds i am buying are black stars, white leghorns and easter eggers. the coop will be 6x10 and will me on the north side of the house. i know i will have to heat this year but am not sure if i should heat the years after? i know this topic has been talked about a lot and i have read other threads but it would be nice if i can get all your opinions on my situation [​IMG] also the power never goes out in the winter here and if it did i would just run my generator. [​IMG]
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I'm not going to get into the heat or not debate; I'm sure you've seen enough of it here on the forum. I agree that you will need to provide heat for the rest of this winter, since they are aleady accustomed to it. That does not mean that you'll have to heat next winter though. They will be older, and will transition from fall to winter temps. more naturally.
    Many love the heated dog water metal waterer sits on a clay pot heater w/a 60W bulb inside. Some rig up a lamp aimed down at the waterer (but then you have the heat lamp safety concerns).
  3. blueskylen

    blueskylen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2008
    i also have an un-insulated coop that is not drafty, but i keep a red heat lamp on if it gets below 30 degrees. my chickens just seem so uncomfortable all fluffed up and motionless if there is no heat at all - i don't think that they lay as well either.
    i know that the small amount of heat provided by the 250 watt bulb does not heat the coop much, but they can get under it in the straw if they want to be a bit warmer. it is suspended about 4 1/2 feet from the floor and has a big plastic cage to protect the bulb.

    i use a heated dog bowl for water in the winter and the usual unheated one the rest of the year. just can't be out there all the time unfreezing the water.

    good luck with your new chickens!
  4. the-bird-man

    the-bird-man Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 24, 2010
    land of the sun
    okay so since i have to heat for the rest of this winter, what is the best way to rig up the heat lamp so i do not burn down the coop? i would love to see pictures of the best way to do this if possible [​IMG]
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    You might wish to check out my winter page (link in .sig below) about coop temperature and heating and that kind of stuff.

    To directly address your questions here, though:

    You are exceedingly unlikely to need a HEAT lamp for 16 wk old chickens. I can certainly understand your wanting to err on the side of caution if these have been living in a heated coop (although it would be good to find out what temp the seller's coop really is at, as it may not really be much heat he's providing, just a pool of warmth for them to use when chickens want) and would be going straight into your below-0-F coop. But just one or two regular 100w lightbulbs, in a reflectored fixture (you can use a heat lamp fixture if you want), are likely to be fine. All you want is something to give them somewhere to warm up if they feel the need, you know? The lower wattage bulbs are considerably safer than an actual heatlamp bulb (175 or 250w)

    To keep the water liquid it would really be best to have a separate, heated waterer base (or heated waterer). It takes VASTLY less electricity and fire hazard to keep water thawed that way than by trying to keep the whole coop heated to above freezing or by putting a heatlamp above the water (remember, heat *rises*...). Or of course you can just bring them fresh water once or several times per day, if that would work better for you.

    In your zone it is highly unlikely you would need to regularly use electric heat for the chickens in future winters, unless you are not managing your coop well. But, read more about it and you have plenty of time to make your own decisions there [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    Okay--everything Pat said. My tractor is insulated but not heated. My DH made a cookie tin water heater that works great for keeping the water flowing even on the coldest day. It sits on a concrete block in the coop and a 2 gallon galvanized waterer sits on top of that. We have an exterior extension cord that runs from an exterior plug to the tractor. I use pine shavings on the floor of the tractor and am up to about 6 inches deep right now. The girls go out into their run every day even in the cold. The only time they hide in their tractor is if it is really windy(windchills of below zero and really blowing). Or if it is snowing and blowing. As Pat said, read lots and make up your mind as to what will work best for you.
  7. kimlwilson

    kimlwilson New Egg

    Nov 12, 2010
    I've been using a heating mat and putting the water container directly on top of the mat. The water hasn't freeze yet. When it gets down to single digit, I have another mat that I put in the bottom of the coop at night. The mats can't catch on fire and is a lot cheaper than the heated dog dish.
  8. briteday

    briteday Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 16, 2008
    Northern NV
    I'm in the foothills near Lake Tahoe, so probably about the same temps. Again, I would check to see "how warm" this guy is heating his coop. and if you can get the birds on some nice warm sunny days when the nights won't be too extreme...maybe they could acclimate. On the other hand I would be ready to provide a bit of heat if he is keeping his coop really warm.

    For water I either re-fill with liquid water a few times each day on days that the high does not go above freezing, and every morning after a freezing night. I also have a 5 gallon bucket with nipples installed in the bottom and run an aquarium heater in it to keep it liquid. There has been a lot of discussion about aquarium heaters breaking or shorting out, causing harm to the birds drinking from the metal nipples. However, it's been 4 years with the same heater (winter use only, bought cheapest at Walmart) and I have not experienced any problems. I check the nipples for conductivity and clogging every time I fill the bucket.
  9. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

  10. Chicklette 1

    Chicklette 1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2010
    I invested in a flat panel heater so it would not take up any room and it is great. It is a very gentle heat and does not keep the coop overly warm. It is usually around 30 degrees on cold days. I can turn it off when I get a warmer day. I think they like it because they have been laying regularly all winter. I feel better knowing that they have a warm shelter at night and also during the day it it gets really cold and windy. They can go out into their large pen during the day when they want to. I have a couple of silkies and a frizzle cochin that look like they get a little chilled but they love to go out anyway. I melted ice balls off of my silkies foot a couple of days ago.

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