coop heating - inevitable question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by RasMama, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. RasMama

    RasMama Out Of The Brooder

    May 14, 2009
    Spokane, WA
    so the basics, 7 laying pullets, pretty winter hardy breeds, BR, BO, EE, sex-links. Cold weather is setting in, highs of 15-16 today with windchills around -16. No snow (yet, but some years it doesn't come, others it dumps). Fairly small coop, like 4x8 x4 tall. 10x10 attached run they get every day along with most days free-ranging. Roost is a 2x4 with the 4 side up so they can warm their toes but I still worry it's cold for them. I know, they're chickens and they have down coats, but it's just so cold out I still feel bad. Their coop isn't big enough to allow for much room in heating, so if I put in the brooder heat lamp I have (400 watts I think?) the really warm area around the light will be big enough to take away a significant amount of their room. I've thought about putting one of those heated dog bed liners in, but I think they'll just poop all over it. Should I not worry about it? Are there other options for adding just a little heat & not taking away too much room?
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  2. rhoda_bruce

    rhoda_bruce Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2009
    Cut Off, LA
    I will be experimenting with deep litter very soon. I am about to locate a thermometer to check the roost temperatures. The idea being that decomposition is a warm process. I know that for a fact because my mom had piles and piles of wood chips in the yard when I was a child and we used to climb on top of them and you could see the steam coming from the tops. She was afraid they would catch fire, so she would water them, which probably helped with the decomposition even more. Anyway I raked a bunch of cypress needles Friday and I plan on changing out the litter today or tomorrow and really loading it in.......then a whole winter of pooping away for the chickens. Its just an experiment. Most people in my area don't worry about the cold for their chickens.
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens'll get a mix of suggestions. I'm sure if you watch your chickens, you will know whether they are too cold or not. Things I would consider: is your coop insulated? is your ventilation up high? how tight vs. drafty is your coop? how often do you removed droppings from your coop (moisture)? is there plenty of bedding available? I would do a search here on the site; it will give you a lot of think about, reading all the different opinions.
    Have your tried stacking hay bales along the prevailing wind side of your coop, that would help insulate a bit... There is some type of flat heater that I've come across while browsing the threads here on BYC. Most people who DO decide to add a little heat to their coops use a heat lamp (although I've never even heard of a 400W one). Safety precautions have to be taken when using heat sources, so be aware of them...
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    First, ignore the windchill. Completely. Don't even look it up or listen to it on the radio. It is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT to your chickens' comfort in the coop, since there is (or should be!) no windchill at all in there, just regular ol' air temperature. (Which is probably higher at night in the coop than outdoors - put a max-min thermometer in the coop at roost level, it is very educational).

    If you really feel at some point in the future that you need to put something electric in there, start with something *small*, like a 100w lightbulb. That may be quite sufficient... if anything at all is needed, which it may well *not* be. Let the chickens' behavior and health be your guide.

    Good luck, have fun,

  5. PeggySueQ

    PeggySueQ Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 13, 2009
    with those temps, they need heat. can you build a shelf on the wall and put a small heater on it blowing on low? You have to put up a frame or nail in nails to make sure the heater can't fall off the shelf. Otherwise, I would sacrifice a little room for a heater. Run it anytime it goes below 30 degrees.
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Well, FWIW, the experience of most people I know who are in northern climates is that you certainly do NOT need to keep a well-managed coop anywhere near 30... unless you have it very closed-up and humid, or are in an always-super-humid climate.

    The freezing point of water is NOT the same as the freezing point of chickens <g>

    Just sayin',

  7. LaSombra

    LaSombra Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2009
  8. BlackBart

    BlackBart Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2009
    I think us chickens lovers want a heater in with the chickens more than the chickens do. [​IMG]

    I was reading if you do heat your chicken coops what happens to them if your power goes out? They will not be acclimatized and get a real chill. Thats something to think about. A old timer told me the little wild birds don't have a coop or a heat source, he's right but they can die from long excessive cold snaps.

    Never the less and because I feel better about it,
    I put a 60 watt red light bulb in when it gets below 30'. I do this because our place doesn't get allot of winter sun and it can be windy at times.
    I have plenty of good ventilation and when using a heat source I clean out the chicken poop everyday.
    I have noticed that it is always the same chickens, Polish hens, that perch directly over the handing light bulb (it has a dome fixture cover).

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by