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best ways for keeping chickens warm during winter?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Cavendish Chickens, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. Cavendish Chickens

    Cavendish Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2010
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    Okay, our coop is 8 feet long, 4 feet high, and 4 feet wide. So, we can't really fit a very big heater in there. We put thick plastic sheeting around the sides and top of the coop, and bought a small personal heater fan that we plan to hang up inside the coop, up high towards the center on the back wall. We also are keeping the straw bedding thicker. Is there anything else we should be doing, or something we should be doing instead of something we already are? Thanks (total of 3 chickens)
     
  2. can you hear me now?

    can you hear me now? Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Honestly I don't heat my birds. I tried my first winter and they had me worried to death that they would catch my straw on fire by trying to land on the heater. Now all I do is make sure they are draft free and let them do their thing.
     
  3. lightfoot

    lightfoot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 19, 2010
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    maybe you need to read past posts about correct ventilation and bedding. there are many ideas there for the learning.
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    It's basically impossible to heat a 4' high coop safely. They don't need heat, anyway. They need good ventilation with freedom from drafts.
     
  5. Cavendish Chickens

    Cavendish Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2010
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    Okay... apparently I need some teaching on winter care. How do you properly ventilate without drafts? I want as much advice as possible from everyone possible. Please? lol Thanks!
     
  6. MissJenny

    MissJenny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You probably don't need the plastic sheeting -- it will prevent moisture from escaping. Moisture can cause frostbite.

    Ventilation should be from small "windows" (vents), say 4" x 10" at the upper edge of the coop -- at the gable or along the roof line. A draft would be caused by a cross-breeze, while a vent simply allows moisture and excess heat to escape.

    The extra straw is good -- they probably don't need a heat source. What they will need is a nice wide roost, so they can sit down on their feet, rather than have their feet wrapped around a dowel -- this way their body heat keeps their feet warm and prevents frostbite. Another frostbite prevention is to coat their combs with vaseline -- this only goes so far, but it does help.

    I am still waffling on a small heater like you describe. One thing to keep an eye out for is a means to keep their water from freezing. There are a couple of different water heaters, like heated dog bowls to consider. Eben that little bit ofheat might be enough to bring up the temperature of your coop some.

    Jenny
     
  7. Cavendish Chickens

    Cavendish Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2010
    Summit County, Ohio
    I've got to think about how that would work. My plans were for them to be able to come out of the coop during the winter to run around the pen. The plastic is actually keeping it pretty dry in there. The dirt was so dry I was tempted to spray it down with a hose, but didn't. Here's a picture of the pen and coop before fall hit you guys can see. Not the best picture, I will try to get a better one. With the plastic up, they can't really see out, so they stay by the door which we didn't yet put plastic on. We used it to help cut down the amount of wind that hits them. They seem pleased with it. Have had a lot of high winds these past few days that finally settled down. The ramps are on hinges, but can't be held up and closed as of yet. We'd have to get the parts to make it like that. There are gaps that may help ventilate a little, but maybe not enough. If we put vent holes, should we only do one side of the coop. I know that when you build a walk in coop, they mention making windows on the southern side of the coop so the sun can shine in to help warm it during the winter. I will post a newer picture of the coop and pen tomorrow night. But here's this one.

    [​IMG]



    Here's a picture of the inside without the straw. That's our rooster sitting in the corner. He doesn't roost, but the hens do.

    [​IMG]


    The wood the coop is made of isn't very thick. Maybe a quarter of an inch thick, if that. I want to do everything possible to keep them warm enough and healthy enough during the winter. The chicken fencing goes all the way around the back side of the coop. I will have to get a picture of the doorway we use too. There are gaps there too. Then maybe you guys can help me better plan the winter preparations. Thanks again.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2010
  8. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    "Free of drafts" means the wind isn't hitting them while they are asleep. "Well ventilated" means humidity, ammonia etc. care free to flow up and out. In a small coop, the chickens themselves warm it a fair bit. Bales of hay stacked against well-chosen walls go a long way in maintaining a temp. It is the humidity and not the low temp that causes frostbitten combs and toes. If their roost is wide and flat (the wide side of a 2x4,) they can rest their bodies on their toes and keep them warm. On really cold nights, some vaseline on combs and wattles may be needed. The simplest approach is a vent under the peak of a roof, and another at floor level, say under the pop door, for incoming air to replace the warmed air going out.

    I have considerably more ventilation than that, but in this climate, parts of walls made of hardware cloth are needed for the heat. I use plastic in the winter to cut wind, but last year we didn't stay below freezing long enough to freeze outside pipes so I didn't even put it up.

    Patandchickens has done some excellent writeups about coops. Here is her ventilation link: https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    and
    her link about coops for cold weather (she lives in Canada): https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    Good
    luck!
     
  9. MammaMoose

    MammaMoose Out Of The Brooder

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    I was thinking more along the line of knitting little booties, scarfs and hats...like the ones in the "Chicken Run" movie. [​IMG]
     
  10. Carrie Lynn

    Carrie Lynn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm right there with you!
    I am building a 4x4x4' coop, and like you am worried about keeping my birds warm. I have decided to add foam board insulation to the outside of the coop and cover with paneling or such. I decided not to use additional heat as I wanted my pullets to acclimate to the weather (in case we lost power). Per Pat's helpful suggestions, my ventilation will be on the south side, the whole length and perhaps 1.5 inches tall (covered with hardware cloth). I will put a smaller one on the East wall if needed, I'll monitor the humidity. My roost will be placed on the north side, about 18 inches in with an East-West placement. This should allow for good ventilation, w/o drafts. (Thanks Pat for your guidance). I plan to keep my roost low, about 2 ft. off the floor. I will use pine shavings deep enough to nestle in.
    Good luck and let's compare notes...feel free to PM me.
    Carrie Lynn (also new to chickens, first winter)
    P.S. Nice rooster, what kinds and how many chickens do you have?
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2010

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