1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Cold Weather

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by bettieb86, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. bettieb86

    bettieb86 Hatching

    Dec 10, 2016
    I have nine hens and live in area where temps at night get to teens and next week the low's will get down to single digits!! The hens are 12-14 weeks and various breeds, Leghorn, RIR, Easter egger, Wyandotte, Ameraucana, Maran. Coop is fully inclosed with upper ventilation. I have read on some sites insulating the coop was not necessary. It is built sturdy with 3/4 inch plywood all around. Do I need to add a heat lamp or will they be fine?

  2. AllynTal

    AllynTal Songster

    Aug 22, 2014
    Mississippi Gulf Coast
    OMG do NOT add a heat lamp! It's a huge fire hazard and you don't want to 'heat' the coop. You want good ventilation, but you don't want drafts. As long as the coop is draft-free and the chickens are feathered out, they'll be fine.

    Cold to a human is not the same as cold to a chicken. Chickens fluff their feathers out and create a dead-air space under their feathers against their skin to keep themselves warm (and it is very effective) -- kinda the equivalent of a human putting on a down-filled coat. If you heat the coop and make the coop warmer than the outside temps, they can't acclimatize themselves to the weather outside. That is bad for chickens. It's also very bad putting sweaters on chickens. (I don't know how this ridiculous trend got started.) If they can't fluff their feathers away from their bodies, they can't warm themselves.

    In severely cold areas, you might consider using a flat-panel radiant heater. There's no fire hazard with a radiant panel and it doesn't 'heat' the coop, per se. It simply raises the temp a few degrees over ambient, but I probably wouldn't consider that unless the temps were below zero F.

    Moisture is a concern, though. If you have a waterer in the coop that might leak or if you do deep-litter and don't maintain it properly (deep-litter is not a hands-off system) and there is too much moisture in the coop, you can have frostbite problems, but that is a moisture problem, not a temperature problem.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You're not the only one asking this question these days. The answer in your case depends on what your young chickens have been used to up to exposing them to below freezing temps.

    Have they already been outdoors for the past few weeks? Or are they going from a 70F indoor environment to single digits?

    If they've been coddled by indoor temps and haven't ever experienced very cold temps, they will need a bit of acclimatizing. Either expose the chickens to cooler temps by lowering the indoor temp or take them outdoors during the day for the next week when the weather is calm, then bring them back in when they show signs of discomfort. That would be huddling together all fluffed up twice their size.

    But generally speaking, your chickens will do just fine with no heat once you get them acclimated. Just don't do it suddenly. That's when chickens get into trouble.

    But stay away from heat lamps. They are very unsafe for any purpose.
    1 person likes this.
  4. bettieb86

    bettieb86 Hatching

    Dec 10, 2016
    So helpful!! thanks so much for all the info!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by