average low temps/ non-heated coops?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by dftkarin, Oct 24, 2008.

  1. dftkarin

    dftkarin Songster

    Jun 27, 2008
    I have 4 heavy breed hens (2 br, 1 glw and 1 ba) who will sleep in a plywood 3'x5' coop with ventilation and I'll try to do my best to block the potential drafts - and I just checked the temp averages for my zip code and the average lows are between 0 and 10 degrees, record lows are 20-30 below. Assuming the winter lows stay close to 0, will my chickens really adapt and stay healthy? I will vaseline their combs if the forcast is for 20 or below. It sounds like they can survive fine in below freezing temps as long as there are no drafts?
  2. ncCHICKS

    ncCHICKS Songster

    Oct 5, 2008
    Hope Mills, NC
    IDK that's a little cold. Couldn't you get a regular light out there?
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Remember the inside of the coop will be significantly warmer than the outside air (assuming you're managing your vents intelligently). Not only do chickens produce a good bit of body heat, just having an enclosed space keeps it warmer than the great outdoors too. (In terms of nightly lows anyhow).

    I'm not much help for numbers here, myself -- my girls winter in a large, well-insulated building with a concrete floor slab that really helps moderate temperatures (I didn't build this for them, it was just here when we moved in and I've adapted it for the chickens).

    But I can tell you that my first introduction to Canadian chickens was from a friend who used to live about 10 minutes away from me -- midwinter low temps around here are typically like -10 to -20 F, and colder on occasion -- whose chickens lived in a not completely draftproof, uninsulated old coop with clear plastic over the front wall which was otherwise just woven wire. She had regular ol' chickens, not sure the breed but something singlecombed, and said she never had any problems with them and did not run a heatlamp or lightbulb.

    A max-min thermometer, and your observations of your chickens, are your best tools [​IMG]


    Last edited: Oct 24, 2008
  4. scooter147

    scooter147 Songster

    Jul 30, 2008
    They should be just fine.
    Add some cracked corn to their diet for internal warmth.
    Make sure they have fresh water.
    I would probably on the below zero nights block the venilation holes with newspaper or old towels and remove once the sun comes up.
    I lived in Northern Illinois for several years and we would have stretches of temps below zero (farenheit) at night and my hens pulled through just fine.
    I have said it before I can't remember if I have ever lost a chicken to cold weather but I usually lose at least one during the high heat and humidity of the Southern Missouri summers.
  5. GertieBird

    GertieBird In the Brooder

    Sep 23, 2008
    Triad of NC
    Hey all! Great info on this thread. Anyone out there in the piedmont area of NC do anything for their chickens in winter? I have a coop roughly 10'x4', all-wood contruction with metal roof. There are some gaps between walls/ floor and walls/ceiling. None of the gaps are larger than an inch (as in the case where the wall meets the corrugated roof). Right now there is just linoleum on the floor....the floor is close to the ground but not on it. I am considering adding wood shavings to the floor for winter bedding. There is no light source in the coop.

    I have 3 tiny banties (not very fluffy) and two standards (Jersey Giant and Wyandotte). There's a pheasant that shares the coop too, which will add to the warmth. Will the banties require any more heat than the standards? Should I train the banties to roost between the standards? Like bookends?? [​IMG]

    Any input would be greatly appreciated regarding my specific situation. Also, other resources would be helpful too. TYVM!!
  6. spook

    spook Songster

    I have Ameraucana's and bantams, they tolerate the same type temps, don't know where you are, but we are in Maine. I have 5 in a 4x8 coop and have not had any issues. I would suggest wrapping plastic up to roof, allowing for roof and eves to be ventilation in itself.
    Using deep litter method will help "compost" and insulate the floor from the cold. As long as you toss in some corn, feeding a slightly higher fat for energy and a perch that allows them to cover their middle toes (longest toe) then you will not have to worry about any problems.
    Personally I do not want heated water, lights etc in winter due to the frequent power outages we endure. If you do not get them accustomed to warmth, they will be prepared for everything nature offers.
    Some folks let their girls out in winter, I never do. Don't let them get started and on horrible january days when the themo doesn't budge off 0 if we're lucky they aren't going to be diving for the door. If you do want to let them out, plastic in their run, put shavings down to keep them off the cold.
    Good luck and I change the water 2 times a day and give a cup or two of hot water and mash for breakfast. It gets more liquid in them and a lot like hot oatmeal in morning, warms you up. I feel it helps them in egg laying, warming not needing as much energy to heat up when they can put it into laying.
    Purely old fashioned suggestions and not that of many of our friends, so good luck and I'm sure your girls will be fine!
  7. bills

    bills Songster

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    Quote:I would add wood shavings to the floor immediately. It will help absorb moisture from the droppings, and make it far easier to clean. It will also act as insulation.

    Good luck on training your birds to roost in a particular order. [​IMG] They sort that out on thier own, and there's not much you can do about that..

    A simple 40watt light on a timer, would help in egg production, and provide some warmth. If it gets extremely cold, you could put in a red heat light, with a dimmer switch. The dimmer allows you to control the temp's in the coop, and the red light will allow the birds to sleep at night.

    Scooter147 mentions blocking off the ventilation holes at nights below 0. I don't agree with this method of trying to keep the birds warmer, as what will occur is a higher humidity in the coop. The birds respiration, droppings, and body warmth, could cause moisture to form on the ceiling, and drip back down into the coop. A damp coop is far worse than a cold coop. Better to put in a heat lamp if there are real concerns, and leave those vents open!

  8. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Your Winter temperatures look like those for my part of the world.

    Years ago, I had what I thought was too many chickens for my little coop so allowed them to stay over night in an little barn with an open door. There was plenty of loose hay on the side they could have for themselves. They liked to spend their days there and would just roost when it got dark.

    It was obviously hard on them when the temps went below zero. My lovely Hamburg roo and a couple of hens (heavy breed) got frostbite on their combs.

    My coop now is about twice the size of yours. They have a "sun-porch" in addition which is open to the air but the 3.5' by 7' side is fully insulated. With 2 pigeons and 4 hens, it will only drop below freezing in there if the outdoor temp is nearly down to 10°F. Nothing seems to be suffering at freezing or a little below freezing [​IMG].

    My guess is that your smaller coop, even if it doesn't have insulation, should be fine. But like spook says, don't forget their water.

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2008
  9. I'M On Island Time

    I'M On Island Time In the Brooder

    Aug 23, 2008
    Chain O'Lakes IL
    I'm in IL/WI area, so it gets pretty cold. Last winter we got down to -20, with -30 wind chills. I have a thermostat in my coop. When it gets down to 35, the heat lamps turn on and when it gets to 45 the heat lamps turn off. It has worked well for 2 winters, and I don't notice my electric bill to be much higher than what it usually is during the winter.

    Their coop is insulated with the pink foam, and covered with concrete board. I also put insulation over the windows to keep drafts out. It isn't air tight so they don't suffocate, but it keeps it warm enough to keep the water from freezing and the birds are happy. I was concerned that the temp changes between the house and then free ranging outside might make them sick, but there were never any problems. If it was absolutely bitterly cold, they didn't want to leave the house, and if there was ever snow on the ground, they wouldn't walk on it, so they stayed inside quite a bit.

    I got the thermostat at Farm and Fleet. It is a regular 3 prong plug adapter, and you just plug the heat lamps into that.
  10. Montana-Hens

    Montana-Hens Songster

    Feb 20, 2008
    Buxton, Montana
    I live in MT where the wind howls and the daily avg hights in Dec and Jan are sub freezing, and we have subfreezing night averages 5 months of the year.

    Read as much as you can about cold weather coops on this list and you will be fine. There are two therories. Electric or not.

    I am NOT electric. My coop is insulated, and vented. I have a 3.5 x8 foot coop for 4 heavy layers, with external next boxes and 2 small windows.

    It is a little large if you subscribe to the 4 ft per bird. I choose this size so their warmth would keep them warm, but oversized it a little b/c I worry about the moisture b/c of hens producing moisture breathting. Because it is so small and our MT air is so dry the deep litter method doesn't seem to work here. I keep a heavy layer of straw on the floor and in the nest boxes. Every day I add a little shavings and stir it up, about every 3-4 weeks I pull it all out and add it to the compost pile (that is froze all winter) and start over in the coop.

    This is my trial and error method that works for me. Find your method and be prepared to make a few adjustments along the way.

    The answer is out there on this list for you. Good luck

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