Cold coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by csaws, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. csaws

    csaws Out Of The Brooder

    May 5, 2009
    How cold is too cold in general for chickens? My wife is worried about our chickens freezing to death. We have a 6x7 coop and have 10 chickens. The water is freezing overnight so I know that it is at least 32 or so here at night lately. The inside of our coop is just stud walls and none of the coops I have seen are insulated do we need to insulate? WIll the chickens be fine? We live in Indiana btw. Does anyone use a heated waterer? How do you keep their water from freezing? I know it might screw up their sleep patterns (if chickens even have those) but can we use the heat lamp from when they were chicks in the coop all day everyday? Will the eggs freeze? Thanks for all your help.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  2. henney penny

    henney penny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 21, 2009
    Northern Maine
    I live in northern maine so it gets mighty cold here.Last year was my first winter with my ten chickens,they were in a small playhouse about 5x5 and 5ft high.No insulation just studs and textured one eleven siding.We had to put a heat lamp in(red 250 watt) at night.We had a lot of windows on the south side of the coop for sun to warm it up in the daytime.I now have a brandnew coop with 30 chickens and the small coop has 8 silkies in it now and we did insulate it this summer.My husband made a water heater,a wood box that he insulated with blue board then put a light in it and left a hole in the top and I set my water on it and the light bulb keeps it from freezing,I use a 40 watt bulb.I bought a heated dog water bowl for the silkies,I have to run an extension cord to the small coop for electriity.Chickens can stand a lot of cold but they can`t stand a draft on them.If your chickens have big combs they might get frost bite if it gets below freezing in there.You can tell if they are frst bit they will turn black or have black spots on them and its very painful for them,if its bad they will lose there combs and wattles.My problem with my new coop is the humity is staying hight I need more ventalation at the top of the coop,the humity is bad for them as there combs will freeze faster .I have learned a lot in this past year and I love rasing my chickens.Hope I have helped you.The good thing about keeping a light on all the time you will get eggs all winter.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Hi. I live in Indiana as well. We DID insulate our coop. My coop is barely bigger than yours (6x8), but I only have five chickens. So yours do generate a little more body heat than mine do (plus mine are young, so still smallish). Last night it was down to about 25 or 26 degrees here. We were running a 75W heat lamp, and their water was fine in the coop (although the water outside the coop was a solid block). There was not even a skimming of ice on the inside dish. If you can, I would insulate. But I'm a softy with my girls...
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    See my "cold coop" page, link in .sig below, for a lot more on coop temperatures, insulation, heat, cold-tolerance of chickens, etc etc.

    It would be useful for you to insulate, although you do not absolutely need to. It will make your chickens comfier and your management easier, however, and if you should end up using a heat lamp (but see aforementioned page for discussion of whether this is really often a good idea...) it will save you money.

    Easiest way to keep water from freezing is to buy or make a heated waterer base. A heat lamp over the waterer is much less efficient (you spend a lot more $ for a given amount of freeze-prevention), is more dangerous in terms of fire risk, and I really don't recommend it. If you prefer, though, you can just bring out fresh liquid water once or more per day, whatever it takes to ensure they have drinkable water available most of the time. (They don't need it at night, they don't drink in their sleep, so it is ok if water freezes or is removed overnight as long as you are out there with new water first thing in the a.m.)

    Eggs don't freeze til, I forget, 27 F or so, and they take much longer than you might expect to get down TO that temperature... remember they start at a temperature of about 100 F (the internal temperature of a hen) and are half-nestled in a nice insulating bed of shavings or whatever you have in your nestbox. Collect them daily and you will lose few if any; if it starts to become a regular problem, bed the nestboxes more deeply, close off all but one or two boxes to encourage them ALL to put their eggs there (more time spent with a hen on them equals slower freezing), and collect eggs a couple times a day if possible/necessary. A frozen egg is not necessarily a total writeoff; even if you don't want to eat it yourself, if you cook it right away you can feed it back to the chickens for a high-protein treat.

    Chickens are usually quite cold-hardy in dry draft-free air in a well-managed coop... they are not people. Just *watch* the chickens, see what they're telling you. If you see signs of frostbite on comb points, or they seem to be not moving around much or otherwise struggling, then they are too cold (or in the case of frostbite, often it's not temperature per se but too high humidity). Most breeds are really perfectly fine well below freezing, though, often MUCH below.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009
  5. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Pat nailed it. Not likely to be much of a problem there. Insulation will make a little bit of heat more effective. Ventilation at top of walls or in gable ends or continuous ridge vent/soffit vent system advisable. I did all of those to exhaust both heat and humidity. Humidity/stagnant air is a real poultry killer and a prime cause of frostbite. Drafts near to roosting area are a no-no in cold weather, but desirable in summertime for comfort. I would not cover the entire run either as it can become really soggy and would need sunlight to help dry it. [​IMG]
  6. Chicken of the Sea

    Chicken of the Sea Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 1, 2008
    Wellsboro, PA
    Have raised chickens on and off for 50 years and have never worried about the cold, it was -28 here last winter and no problem. I do not heat or insulate, but my coop is well ventilated and draft free.
  7. csaws

    csaws Out Of The Brooder

    May 5, 2009
    Thanks for all of the info, we do not have a run. The chickens free range in our yard and some in our neighbors yards so covering the run is of no issue to us.
  8. RocketDad

    RocketDad Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2008
    Near US 287
    I insulated my coop really well, and I have a nice double glazed crank-open window ($15 from the Habitat for Humanity store) that is always open at least a bit.

    It's been in the single digits the last few days, so I finally put a 250W red lamp switched with a thermo-cube. I mostly did it for my wife's comfort, to keep her from freaking out in the middle of the night when I'm off playing Army one weekend a month.

    I think the light irritates the chickens. It wakes them up.
  9. telehillco

    telehillco Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 15, 2009
    Front Range, CO
    We've got two chickens in an un-insulated coop in Colorado. Most of the time it doesn't get that cold, but we are in the midst of one of our cold snaps now when lows are near 0 deg F and highs won't go above freezing for a week. We recently bought a heated pet dish for water and that has definitely made us feel better that we're not causing our chickens to die of thirst if we're not up at the crack of dawn to break up the ice in their water dish. I recommend it! We also use a red heat lamp when it goes below 20 deg F. Random temperature designation, but I'm a softy and don't want them to get too cold even with their feather coats. The red light apparently doesn't affect their sleeping and they've still been laying almost every day! While we were travelling we also got an outdoor timer to turn both said heat lamp and headed water dish on and off at night. It was also good for peace-of-mind.
  10. LeeLeesFarm

    LeeLeesFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 28, 2008
    So. California

    I've been wondering about this, since I have changed my hens living accommodations this year.

    They are now living 24 hrs in a 'run' on the grass. I have only 3 bantam hens, in a 6 foot long wired run.

    I live in the dessert in California, just north of Los Angeles, so our winter temps will be approx 28 degrees on the coldest of our winter nights.

    Here's the question:

    For the winter I have a tarp and heavy packing blanket (like using in a u-haul) over one-half of the run to keep one-half of the run rain free. We don't get snow, but will get rain.

    We also get some heavy winds.

    One-half of the run has no tarp on it, for daytime sun for the girls.

    I just bought a dog crate for the girls to sleep in at night .... they've taken to it nicely, so I think they should be safe from winds.

    Any thoughts?

    Don't feral chickens survive in winds anyway?

    Should I be more concerned about our cold winds with my hens??



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