Chickens during winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Kknight3, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. Kknight3

    Kknight3 In the Brooder

    Aug 19, 2014
    I need some advise on what to do with my chickens and how to fix up their coop this winter. I just got my first chickens this past spring and I have a few questions about the cold weather. I live in Memphis so it doesnt get extremely cold but last year it did get down in the teens a few times. How do I keep the chickens warm in the coop? And do I still let them free range or do I keep them cooped all winter? Should I use a heat lamp? If so, how do I do it without preventing them from getting their sleep at night? I have heard if their is a light on, they wont sleep. I need as much advice as I can get!
  2. fshinggrl

    fshinggrl Songster

    May 1, 2009
    the edge of insanity
    I'm in Minnesota and I do not use any light or heat lamp unless it gets below about -10 degrees out. IF the henhouse is the right size, their body heat will keep it warm. Make sure your coop is vented though, don't close it up. My chooks don't really like going out in the snow and so they will hang out inside during the winter a lot, or at least where there is no snow, but that doesn't mean they won't venture out. Give them t he option of going out. They have a lot of feathers and fluff and do keep warm by themselves!
  3. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Crowing

    Apr 5, 2013
    You can let them out. I just leave the gate open and let them decide. Down in the teens is a bit chilly, but I know people here (a bit colder) that use no heat at all. Chickens put off quite a bit of heat themselves.

    If you decide you want to use a heat lamp you could try hooking it up to a thermometer so it shuts off. I set mine at around 40 degrees. Make sure it is near nothing flammable, the last thing you want is to burn your coop to the ground. What kind of set up is your coop like? You may not need to add a light. Especially if you want them to have some hours of darkness.
  4. RonP

    RonP Crowing

    I use an average of 1 square foot of ventilation per standard bird in my coop.

    That might seem like a lot, but it works well.

    My temps also drop to low single digits during the colder days of winter.
    My coop is not insulated.

    As long as there are no drafts (wind chill factor) the birds will be fine.

    Free choice as to whether they go out or not, they usually do unless snow is on the ground.
  5. growyourbrew

    growyourbrew Chirping

    Jul 17, 2012
    I live on the Colorado foothills (winters can drop to as low as -40F). However, I have never heated my coop. I used the deep litter method which helps keep it warm. My coop is also big - we converted it from an existing greenhouse. The coop is not insulated. The coop leads into the run which is fully enclosed (we have a lot of predators up here). Anyway, the coop door is always cracked open enough for chickens to come out into the run if they please. They usually don't come up when it's cold though. We usually only have 1 brave bantam cochin who will come outside in the dead of winter. But, it's her choice.
    We do have a light on a timer but that it more to increase daylight and help our egg production rather than for heat.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    In Memphis you do not need to add any heat at all. All that does is create a fire hazard and run up your electric bill. How do you think Davy Crockett, John Sevier, Sam Houston, John Donelson, John Oveton, and Andy Jackson kept chickens in Tennessee before anyone had electricity? They sure did not keep a fire going for them.

    I’ve seen chickens sleep in trees in weather below zero Fahrenheit. That was not on a dead branch of a tree overlooking a bluff with the chickens squawking defiantly into the teeth of a blizzard. That was in a sheltered valley in a thicket where there was wind protection and they could move around to get out of the wind if they needed to. If you can provide a place for them to sleep where they have good ventilation but no wind blowing directly on them and you do not provide any heat at all so they can acclimate as the temperatures drop, they will do great in your mild winters, even when it does drop below the teens. Memphis airport’s record low is (-)13 Fahrenheit December 24, 1963, well below the teens. They will be OK in that with just a little wind protection.

    I always leave my pop door open during the day and let the chickens decide whether to go outside or not. It was 4 degrees above zero Fahrenheit when I took this picture. As long as the wind is not blowing, they tend to choose going outside. The do not like a cold wind though.


    My chickens normally don’t go outside in snow the first day or two but eventually some get brave and try it. In this photo the snow fell during the day and they were already out. They did not bother going inside.

  7. Boulla

    Boulla Chirping

    May 28, 2014
    Copped at night ranged at day, also depends on the breed and size of flock and bedding. WARMTH: straw bedding larger flock to huddle winter or hardy breed.

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