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Do We Need to Heat an Insulated Coop in Zone 5?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Lemonpuss, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. Lemonpuss

    Lemonpuss Hatching

    May 7, 2010
    I just created a profile with lots of pictures of our set up. Hopefully you can see it to use as a reference point for my questions.

    I've been reading conflicting information. We have a 10' x 12' shed in which we house our chickens; 8x10' of it is coop, the remaining 4x10' is storage. Before the frost hits, we'll have the interior insulated. We will be using a deep litter method for floor insulation. Do I need to get a solar powered lightbulb/ heatlamp or something like that to raise the temp of the coop during winter?

    I have 17 hens and 1 rooster, all dual purpose heavy breeds. Barred Plymouth Rocks, Black Australorps, Speckled Sussex, Silver-laced Wyandottes, and a couple of light-weight Easter eggers.
    They definitely don't fill up the 8' x 10' space, so I worry their body heat won't cut it to keep them warm.

    We live in upstate NY in zone 5 which has a low temp of -15 degrees or so; we've got windows on the East, South and West sides of the coop for passive solar heat.

    Also, (and please forgive the newbie question) if we deem it safe to let the hens out in the winter weather, we can leave the pop door open for their access, right? It will let in more cold air than *I'd* want to be in, but perhaps I'm underestimating the warmth feathers offer.

  2. justbugged

    justbugged Head of the Night Crew for WA State

    Jan 27, 2009
    If you really get down to -15, I would add some type of heat source.
  3. patman75

    patman75 Songster

    Good ventilation is more important than the heat. My coop is not insulated or heated but great ventilation. My chickens were fine last year.
  4. spottedtail

    spottedtail Songster

    Aug 5, 2007
    No, you don't need a heat source for Zone 5.
    Don't need heat here either, Zone 4 Minnesota.

    Giving heat to chickens when it's not needed is poor management.
    It ruins their natural hardiness to the cold.
    The power goes out, and your non-hardy chickens will have a problem then.

    With 18 birds in a 8 x 10 space and all your windows, you have nothing to worry about!

    But, as patman75 said, ventilation is important!
    So is keeping drafts out.

    Good luck,
  5. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Songster

    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    Like the others have said, an external heat source isn't really needed and is potentially dangerous. There's always a few tragedies posted on here where the heat lamp either in the brooder or the coop came down and caught something on fire so it's best not to use one unless it's really needed. Having proper ventilation and a draft free roosting area is the best thing for keeping them comfortable and frost bite free thru the winter. Pat's ventilation page is a must read if your not sure about your set up-- https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    : You might want to look into some kind of heated water system though. We had a week + long stretch of lows in the 6-8 degree range (warm winter weather for you, crazy cold for me) and changing water 3x a day, taking care of the rest of the critters and kids + working was not something I'd want to do for more then a week or so---Heck, I didn't want to do it for the short time I did, but never thought I'd need a heated system here.

    Ooops!! [​IMG] well, I guess it's more like welcome from the land of lurk since you've been here a while [​IMG] Love your page, neat looking coop and super cute kids!
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2010
  6. jafo

    jafo Songster

    May 2, 2009
    We live in central Vermont. This year we have 10 Orp hens, and Old Blue our roo. Last year we had 6 total, and it was surprising to note the difference in temperature, with NO heat, just thier body temps. A chicken will give off about 5 watts of energy / heat per bird. (Storey's guide to raising chickens) 12 birds, = a 60 watt bulb. Corn scratch helps generate heat for them in winter, and we give a little twice a day. We have a 6x8x6 coop with two 18x30 windows facing so east. well ventilated, uninsulated, with a heat lamp, well secured. We turn the heat lamp on when it's 0 degrees and below, which surprisingly is not very often. (gives us peace of mind) I give the option to come out every day. If it's 5 degrees, they are out doing thier thing. I keep a bale of hay on the lower deck, and thats where they go, and under the deck for dustbathes. Our only problem is frost buildup on the windows. Not enough ventilation maybe? But they seem very happy, when it's cold outside. Most of the time, heavy overcast, or snowing, they won't come out.
  7. Lemonpuss

    Lemonpuss Hatching

    May 7, 2010
    Thanks, everyone, for your time and thoughts. I somehow hadn't found the ventilation page, so thanks, Kittymomma. (And yes, I have been lurking, trying to not make big enough mistakes that would cause me to have to do anything big over again. I don't mind adapting design as we go, but I was loathe to lose a chicken or have to do major demo/work on the coop to fix it.)

    We are waffling on ventilation. We have no soffit vents up yet - we've been lucky no predators have tried to scale our coop to crawl in. The coop is a peaked roofshed, peak is about 15' high, wall / soffit height 8' high. I've been planning to just cover the soffit area with hardware cloth; this would leave 8' x ~4" along the roof line of the coop area. It did seem too much gap for winter, but having read the ventilation info page it sounds like it might be ok. The roost will be 3 feet below the soffit area, and I was going to cap the area directly above the roost in the winter with a piece of OSB so that the chickens on the roost will have no/minimal drafts but the coop as a whole would have lots of air.

  8. We're in about the same kind of climate- our solutions are in the links below-


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