I'm sure everyone's tired of newbie's asking questions about coop winterizing, but there are SOOOOO many conflicting answers out there. I am raising my first chicken babies, and they are doing great. I have 8 Silkies(I think 6 are roosters, NO JOKE) but oh well. My concerns are regarding insulation and heat lights. I live in Michigan, where it usually hovers around 0 at night, and is frequently windy. My coop contains a covered outdoor run, and a hen house. The hen house is about 4' X 4', and the roof peaks at probabaly 4' tall. Not big, but neither are Silkies. I do have a light socket in the ceiling of both coop and run, but I don't know if I should put a bulb in them for heating, or will I cook my babies in their hen house at night becouse the ceiling is so low. Should I just use sheet insulation in the house (and of course cover over that with more plywood) Should I insulate and heat with a bulb? what wattage should I use? How about outside? Would my babies benefit from a heat lamp when they go out, or is that totally unnecessary? It's all very confusing, and this is a time that I do not want to learn from my mistakes! I'm seriousluy thinking about buying some chicken diapers, kicking my husband out of his side of the bed, and moving the chickens in for the winter : ) Thank you all in advance for answering another coop question!
I am a new chicken parent too, and was looking around online yesterday for heating solutions. I think we are going to go with a flat panel heater. Unlike heat lamps, there is not a risk of fire, and if you plug it into a thermostatted outlet the heater will turn on and off automatically. I found one here: http://www.shopthecoop.com/id82.html
As I said however, this is my first winter with chickens so I have no idea if the advice I'm giving is good or not... take with a grain of salt!
I would try mounting a milkhouse style heater (cheap, walfart or home depot~$13). They have a built in themostat for some temp control, and built in shut off if tipped over. A light on a timer would help too, but only during the day unless running through the night.
Oh yeah, do what ever you can to retain the heat the birds make on their own and you make with the heater/bulb. Insulate well and block and drafts but maintain ventilation. The built in fan on the heater will help circulate air inside. Piling bales of straw on outside walls is cheap and fairly effective.
I live in Oregon where it doesn't get as cold as Michigan (I'm originally from Ohio) and just insulated my coop yesterday. I will go out take some pictures and post them in a few minutes for you. We bought this silver blanket like material from Home Depot for insulating homes. It is nontoxic and not flammable, in case I decide to add a heat lamp at some point. It is for both heating and cooling so I'm going to leave it up for next summer. The temperature range was -60 degrees to 160 degrees.
I wish I could remember the name of it, but they sell it in the insulation aisle. It comes in different size rolls. For a 48" x 25' roll we paid $45. It did my whole coop with some left over. We used construction glue and nails to adhere it to the walls. The girls were afraid to go in the coop last night, lol it was so shiny, but I know they will appreciate it when winter comes. Maybe they took my husband serious when he said it was an oven....
Ya I think with such a low ceiling that you would want to go with a flat panel heater or something like that. Those heat lamps get pretty darn warm until they are ready to burn out that is lol. Never heard of anyone using one in the run but it's not a bad idea
IMO anyhow. I'm glad someone else has silkies where the weather turns horrid! I was worried that silkies were not going to do well here in WI. Is this your first winter with them?
The girls were afraid to go in the coop last night, lol it was so shiny, but I know they will appreciate it when winter comes. Maybe they took my husband serious when he said it was an oven.... lol
Wondering if you have that insulation uncovered? Is it hard? If not I would cover it with plywood or paneling so the chickens don't peck at it. If it's soft at all they will peck at it and prob get sick.
IMHO, if your coop is draft free, this size and insulated, zero degrees won't be a problem, they'll be fine even without heat. I don't intend to heat mine unless it get significantly below zero. Mrs. AK Bird-Brain lives in Alaska, and said last night it was 26 degrees outside, but 10-15 degrees warmer in the coop without extra heat, and she has a stinkin' big coop, so it would take more birds to heat. your birds should be fine down into the teens, (inside coop temp) without any problem--they'll huddle together anyway.
It has been freezing here for several nights, sometimes a tad below. (29 F)
The windows on several coops on the south sides remain open. Windows on doors still cracked open.
No heat and they stay nice and warm. I have watched and they are not piled up to keep warm. They do get used to the cooler weather, in fact I believe they are enjoying it.
No drafts, but ventilation to let out moisture, is what they need. Granted my houses are insulated, but that doesn't mean a lot with windows and pop holes open. lol
I don't heat until it drops to a about 10 /12F and then that depends on what the 'in house' temps are at. The windows/pop holes do get closed first, with only the south side window left open a crack.
Edited to add this is for the youngsters that may not have all the ' winter unders' on yet that I go by that temp.
Chickens can handle cold a lot better then heat if they are dry and out of drafts.