Cold weather, all cooped up, how much heat, etc etc

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by forestrymom, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. forestrymom

    forestrymom Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 11, 2010
    We have a really small coop (less than the recommended 4 sq ft per bird) with a really large run (10 sq ft per bird) and a barn. We got our chickens this spring and they spend a tiny amount of time in the coop. Its insulated (as of yesterday--Yay!!!). The run is covered and has a wooden wall on the sides where the weather comes from (wind/snow), so they will have a pretty nice space there this winter. They will also have some time to spend in the barn, should they choose. My question is will they come out of their insulated coop in extremely cold weather (-20 to -40 F) and how much heat will they need and at what temperature? I have Buff Orps, Wyandottes, Barred Rocks and a couple Easter Egger crosses. Oh, and 2 unknown breeds, one of whom does not look to be as cold hardy. What do you use for heat? I do plan to start increasing their daytime light, in the morning, by just a few hours, hoping for 12 hours of light.
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Wow! -20 and -40 is pretty cold! My run has a roof, but then in the winter, I cover the open sides with tarps to block the wind. Maybe that is something you could do. Alot of people don't believe in using artifical heat because they say it makes chickens dependant on that and less hardy.

    One thing I would watch for, is frostbite on the combs. The barred rocks and buff orps would have a single comb (the kind that sticks up), and if it gets into the single digits, I would recommend putting a nice coating of vasceline on their combs to prevent frostbite. (The tips of their combs will turn black and then fall off.)

    Also, if they roost, I would recommend using a 2x4 board, broad side up, so they can sit on their feed and that will keep them from getting frostbitten toes.

    Moving into the barn might be good for them, since you do have one, for the winter time. I think I'd probably do that to be safe.....Or just allowing them access, like you mentioned. They should go in there voluntarily if they're cold.

    I know others will come by and see your question.....Here in Ohio it usually doesn't get to -20 or -40.......So I'm hoping others with your extreme weather will come by with advice for you, but I hope my little tips help!

  3. MadChickensVT

    MadChickensVT Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 5, 2011
    Middlebury, Vermont
  4. forestrymom

    forestrymom Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 11, 2010
    Thanks for the links! Very helpful! My chickens were ready and waiting to come outside this morning, and it was only about 5 degrees. It will get up to about 45 today, and those temps are as high as we will see until April or May. I do believe animals adapt to their surroundings, but wasn't sure what they would adapt to. My bet is most of the winter they'll be just fine, and I might turn on a heat lamp to keep eggs from freezing and/or water from freezing on our coldest snaps. The barn isn't fully enclosed, either, and their run is probably going to be about as warm as the barn anyway. I might add a tarp or two to the one run wall if it looks like they need it. Good, cheap idea!

    I just went outside to see the new run (dh has been working on the winter set up for the past couple days, until now they've just been free ranging, which they will do some of this winter, and on those days will have access to the barn, the coop AND the run), and he found a scrap piece of sheeting that is transparent, so will let some sunlight through the roof/wall on one end! That thread really helped ease my mind!

    Oh, and as for ventilation, the coop is built within the barn, so free from drafts, and the coop ceiling is vented by 1/2 spaces between the ceiling boards. Hoping this won't be drafty, but I'm pretty sure it will work!

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