Best Way to Heat? at 60 below zero!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Lisalastfrontier, Dec 31, 2017.

  1. Lisalastfrontier

    Lisalastfrontier Hatching

    May 29, 2017
    Yes thats right, i live in Alaska, and it can get -60 below. On average -20 but usually always below 0. So no, not heating my coop isn't an option. Please give me some ideas as to what would be the most economical and safe! If you are going to reply "i don't heat my coop" don't bother taking the time to post. Thanks
  2. Smuvers Farm

    Smuvers Farm Melvin Up the Taterhole

    Feb 16, 2017
    TN/Western KY Border
    Radiant heat would be the safest option in my opinion. You might have to get several, but they usually run around $40 and have a MUCH lesser change of catching anything on fire.
  3. Smuvers Farm

    Smuvers Farm Melvin Up the Taterhole

    Feb 16, 2017
    TN/Western KY Border


    Glad you're here !
    MrsMistyReal likes this.
  4. Sunshine Flock

    Sunshine Flock Crowing

    Sep 27, 2017
    Northern California
    Someone took a photo of me on my mountain bike in front of a bank sign in Fairbanks that said it was -65°F.

    I feel like that sentence needs punctuation.

    The homestead I lived on had a main house and a chicken coop. I rented a small one room log cabin at the far back of the property. The student in the main house was responsible for the chickens that winter, while the owners were on sabbatical out of state. The chickens were in a super small coop with a single heat lamp for warmth. From what I recall, the smaller space was easier to keep tolerably comfortable than a larger coop.

    But the chickens seemed pretty miserable.

    This may not be an option for you, but during extreme cold it wouldn't be a bad idea creating a temporary coop in a carport up against the house, or inside a greenhouse or garage. If you can get them housed in a temperature that's -20° or warmer, I've read that many breeds do well. I don't think the enclosed porch on my cabin or the outhouse was much warmer than standing outside naked, but it helped.

    Also probably not an option, but I recall some folks built their coops up against the house and extended a section of stovepipe through their cabin wall to pass through the coop, and also a greenhouse.

    Aside from coop relocation or building a new one, an oil filled radiant heater could help. But you would need to frame it with some lumber so the chickens don't roost on top. Heating pads in the nesting boxes. These would probably require extension cords, so make sure the cords are rated correctly.

    I look forward to learning about other options.
    MrsMistyReal and 007Sean like this.
  5. ShiftyShickens

    ShiftyShickens Songster

    Dec 12, 2017
    the Great Mitten
    one 60 watt edison bulb can change the temperature of a ten by ten enclosed space by 5 degrees, but since coops should never be completely enclosed because of ventilation, you can't really apply that concept to the coop since any stored heat is just blown out the vent. personally I've used a brooder lamp and red bulb with a metal screen attached just in case the bulb breaks( since they can get super hot, enough to cause a fire! ), i then suspend that either over the roosts, but more often over the community nest about a foot an a half from a thick layer of straw bedding.( a straw bail has an R 50 insulation value, just so you know ) in cold temps even negative 30, 50 degrees has been observed under the lamp along with many chickens. however fire hazards are very real! i use only a ceramic heat lamp and tightly secure what suspends it. although the coop will always be cold for the most part, this allows them to get warm. plus they huddle. hope that helps!
    ChickNanny13 likes this.
  6. ChickNanny13

    ChickNanny13 Crossing the Road

    Jun 23, 2013
    The Big Island/Hawaii
    ShifyShickens gave good advice, be very careful with your heat source (fire danger). :welcome
    ShiftyShickens likes this.
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Do you already have chickens?
    This is all conjecture because we all have such different situations and conditions but here goes.
    It only gets down to about -10 to -20 here but If I were to try and keep chickens in your conditions, I would first only keep LF with raspberry, walnut, pea, cushion or similar small combs that were developed for extremely cold climates. That would be birds like Chanteclers, Russian Orloffs, Brahmas, Dorkings, Hamburgs, Buckeyes. Wyandottes and Jaerhons.
    I don't think it is feasible to heat a normal coop in those conditions.
    It is extremely expensive heating with electricity. A small heat source like heat lamps or ceramic heaters are a waste of time and money since they wouldn't raise the temperature significantly.
    Think a large enough well insulated structure that your birds can live in 24/7. You just can't heat a coop at night and turn them out in the morning for those conditions. That would be harder on your birds than staying in those temps around the clock.
    One would need to get the temps up closer to zero or it isn't really worth the effort.
    You'll still need ventilation so perhaps a wood or propane system to heat incoming air. That will allow heating while bringing in fresh air.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
    007Sean likes this.
  8. Birdinhand

    Birdinhand Crowing

    May 23, 2016
    if it were me, I'd use poli-iso insulation and a heat recovery ventilation system to retain the chicken's body heat while at the same time providing adequate ventilation. if that was not enough, I'd add a radiant heat panel, which is very efficient typically at providing heat and does not have the fire danger associated with heat bulbs. if overheating became a problem I'd add a thermostat driven exhaust fan for the in between temps.
  9. Howard E

    Howard E Crowing

    Feb 18, 2016
    Some of this was discussed in this thread a year ago:

    Not sure we ever resolved it, but point was to try to find out where you cross the line to where you cannot keep birds alive as the rest of us do it, without supplemental light to keep the birds active.

    My guess is you are far enough north that your best bet is to move the birds indoors, as nearly all of the commercial flocks do. Supplemental heat and light. One way to do it is to have them live inside a greenhouse.

    Do a google/youtube search on "greenhouse, chickens, compost"

    Tied to this is an alternative (one I keep saying I'm going to perfect), of using a compost pile to keep the water source from freezing. I think it could work.
  10. Sunshine Flock

    Sunshine Flock Crowing

    Sep 27, 2017
    Northern California
    The inside of a properly maintained compost pile is impressive; mine isn't. It's in an unenclosed area where I toss chicken compost from the coop and our veggie leftovers, plus browns and greens from the yard. We've had a very dry year, so it's hardly seen any water. The chickens churn it around and flatten it out, so heat doesn't accumulate. For a huge wood chip pile I left alone, it retained moisture deep inside on its own and was warm the last time I checked.

    I love this concept for adding heat to a coop. The increase in moisture is something I'll have to explore. Plus, they'll flatten it out and spread it around. But it's got my thinker thinking for sure!

    Plenty of people keep chickens in Alaska, but an insulated coop is a necessity, and the darkness is something I forgot about. It's brutal, and I would imagine especially for creatures so heavily dependent on light for good health and egg production.

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