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Chickens in winter?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Chick whisper, Aug 29, 2014.

  1. Chick whisper

    Chick whisper Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 23, 2014
    I live in northern Montana and last year it got down to -30 and the weather people are saying that it is suppose to be an even worse winter this year. It is starting to cool down up here, we've already had a little snow, and it's not even September. When it does eventually get down to negative numbers, will I need to put a heat lamp in the coop and if I do what temperature should I put it in. Thanks for your help!!
  2. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    I wouldn't add the heat lamp. The way I look at it, is it will be harder for them to acclimate to the cold outside if their coop is heated. Some people do keep a lamp on their birds in the winter, but I am not one of them (though I definitely don't see temps as cold as yours, we got down to -15 last winter though). I would just make sure they have plenty of bedding and their coop if draft free but has adequate ventilation. The ventilation is super important (when they breathe, the moisture from their breath can fall back down on them and make them wet if it can't escape- not good!).

    Good luck, I don't envy your weather one bit!
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    X2 on the above. They will appreciate the heat, but if the power fails you are going to have a problem, added to that there is the risk of a fire. Chickens are well equipped to deal with cold with their feather coats, so they just need some protection from the cold for their faces, combs and feet. Keeping the moisture down in the coop, ensuring adequate ventilation and wide perches for them to roost on (so they can cover their feet) will help. There are some more tips here:

  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I quit using heat lamps all together since there are better, safer alternatives. My winters can get down to -0s, but I only use my oil-filled electric heaters to bring the temp up in the coops only, not the runs, to just short of freezing. It's more to make cleaning easier in the mornings since frozen poop is hard to scrape off poop boards.

    I've learned the chickens, while being noticeably disgruntled on freezing days, actually fare much better when their sleeping quarters don't vary in temperature too much from their run temps. Low humidity and good ventilation are far more important to maintain than temperature.
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Healthy, fully feathered chickens do not need supplemental heat (in fact can have more detriments than benefits to their health) - they need a shelter that provides them the opportunity to be protected from drafts and their natural insulation does the rest.
  6. patvetzal

    patvetzal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 12, 2008
    Bancroft, Ontario
    They may not NEED supplemental heat, but when our coop gets down around minus 10F I turn on the "warm wall". Two old metal water bed heaters that are wired in series (half voltage) and mounted on the wall behind the roost.
    I need hydro in the coop anyway for the lights and heated water dish and the warm wall is on a thermostat and timer that keeps it off during the day and warmer nights (above minus 10F).
    The girls do give eggs all winter to show their appreciation (unless they happen to be moulting)
  7. Chick whisper

    Chick whisper Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 23, 2014
    I also have another question. Most of the time in the summer my chickens free-ranged. In the middle of the winter should I keep them in the the run with hay down in the ground or can I let them out.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    You can let them out....they may or may not wander very far in the snow tho....some it doesn't faze, to others it may seem like the worst thing in the world.
  9. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Growing up in the mountains of Idaho, we had plenty of snow in the winter. I always treated the flock the same in the winter as I did in the summer - they were given the option (via the open run door) and some days they would choose to range, others they would choose to stay in.
  10. chickenychicken

    chickenychicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2015
    Happy easter :)
    Try not to let your chickens go out in the winter as this can cause frost bite or stress. Keep them inside with some hay or straw, (straw works better since its more of a bedding then hay.)
    i would use a heat lamp but if your worried about a fire dont use it.

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