Cold Weather Issues! Help, please!

Sep 24, 2018
217
500
101
Northern Illinois
I was conversing with another BYC user about what I do with my flock in the winter. I normally use a heat lamp and water heater to keep them and their water warm. They told me that a heat lamp was a fire hazard and it wasn't good for them to get used to the heat in case the power went out in the winter. They said that they never use a heater for their flock and all was well. So, I've tried going this far without it. At night it's been getting down to 10 degrees or so. I've tried to do what they said, and avoid using the heat lamp, but over the past two weeks I've lost two chickens from the cold. What should I do? I don't want to lose any more of my girls.
 

50-45-1

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Feb 25, 2008
2,692
8,539
626
Northern Michigan (tip of the little finger area)
My Coop
My Coop
I am north of you and have never used a heater of any kind in my coop, however.
Every coop is different, every situation is different.
Things to concider would be age of birds.
Area of roosting spot ( enough body heat to satisfy area) if its wide open they will never generate enough heat on their own.
Even so most flocks can withstand the cold, its drafts that do the harm.
Damness is also a culprit and can cause sickness.
I say look over your coop and decide what works for you.
Sorry you have lost some of your birds.
Hope you figure this out!
 

Feathers Brady

Songster
Jul 15, 2018
230
1,075
242
Central Illinois
My coop is 20x18 with concrete floor. Four windows and roof vents. Six hens . I use deep litter method in winter. The lamp is on but higher up on one end of roost. Believe me, these old girls appreciate the area when the winter winds are howling. Also the coop is just one part of a very large building.
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,772
32,609
1,092
On the MN prairie.
I was conversing with another BYC user about what I do with my flock in the winter. I normally use a heat lamp and water heater to keep them and their water warm. They told me that a heat lamp was a fire hazard and it wasn't good for them to get used to the heat in case the power went out in the winter. They said that they never use a heater for their flock and all was well. So, I've tried going this far without it. At night it's been getting down to 10 degrees or so. I've tried to do what they said, and avoid using the heat lamp, but over the past two weeks I've lost two chickens from the cold. What should I do? I don't want to lose any more of my girls.
Your chickens aren't dying from the cold. If you have standard, cold hardy breeds, there is something else going on in your flock. How old are your chickens? How many do you have? What is your setup like? How big is your coop in feet by feet? Same with your run? Is your coop well ventilated? Did the ones that died show any symptoms before they died? If so, what were they? The more you can tell us, the more we can try to help.

I live in MN. I don't use heat. It gets to the 20's - 30's below (sometimes for days on end) here in the winter. I have yet to lose a bird to the cold. When I first started raising chickens, I would shut the coop up tight and have a heat lamp in there to keep the water thawed and the chickens warm. They suffered from frostbite and respiratory problems every year. When I finally learned about no heat and good ventilation, my chickens have been healthy throughout the winter. Now, I don't even put the windows in until it's well below freezing. Even then I keep them open a couple of inches at the top. Pop door stays open until it's in the teens below zero. I do keep smaller-combed birds because of the potential for frostbite. (When it gets that cold, frostbite can happen even in the best of circumstances.)

One of the problems with artificial heat is, your birds get dependent on it. They don't grow the necessary downy layers to keep themselves warm. If you lose that heat, it's harder on your birds than being without.
 
Sep 24, 2018
217
500
101
Northern Illinois
Your chickens aren't dying from the cold. If you have standard, cold hardy breeds, there is something else going on in your flock. How old are your chickens? How many do you have? What is your setup like? How big is your coop in feet by feet? Same with your run? Is your coop well ventilated? Did the ones that died show any symptoms before they died? If so, what were they? The more you can tell us, the more we can try to help.

I live in MN. I don't use heat. It gets to the 20's - 30's below (sometimes for days on end) here in the winter. I have yet to lose a bird to the cold. When I first started raising chickens, I would shut the coop up tight and have a heat lamp in there to keep the water thawed and the chickens warm. They suffered from frostbite and respiratory problems every year. When I finally learned about no heat and good ventilation, my chickens have been healthy throughout the winter. Now, I don't even put the windows in until it's well below freezing. Even then I keep them open a couple of inches at the top. Pop door stays open until it's in the teens below zero. I do keep smaller-combed birds because of the potential for frostbite. (When it gets that cold, frostbite can happen even in the best of circumstances.)

One of the problems with artificial heat is, your birds get dependent on it. They don't grow the necessary downy layers to keep themselves warm. If you lose that heat, it's harder on your birds than being without.
My chickens we're about 7 months old or so. Both were Polish crossed. I have two good-sized windows that stay partly open and two vents on each side of the coup. These two were separated from the main flock of 22 chickens. There were five chickens in the group they were in. There weren't any real symptoms. They would be fine when I went to shut the coup door at night and the next morning they would be lying on the ground, shivering and very cold to the touch. The first one that died I almost saved. I brought her inside and fed and watered her. She made a real turnaround with alertness and walking and eating and drinking, so I moved her into the garage with the hen that mothered her. She was fine the rest of the day, but the next morning I went out to find her the same as the day before. She died about a half hour later.
 

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