Drastic drop in temps coming .. add a temporary heat source?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by FriscoRaven, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. FriscoRaven

    FriscoRaven Out Of The Brooder

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    Current temps have been in the 30-40s over the past few weeks, with the odd warmer/colder day here and there. However, tonight, temps are expected to drop to -5 with wind chill. I don't normally keep a heat source in my coop and my chickens have weathered the cold just fine. However, I'm concerned that this drastic change (currently 46 degrees, down to -5) may be a bit too much for them to handle.

    Should I add a heat source for the night, or the next few days? Other than a heat lamp I used for them as babies, I don't have any other real options. I'm concerned that could be a safety hazard, but the plunging temps could be just as dangerous?

    Advice?
     
  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We all have different opinions as to add heat or not, in the end it is your choice. The cons of adding a heat source are the lamp falling, extension cords burning up, and if the electric fails it can put them in shock. If you do add heat make sure that there will be a way to heat them up if the electric fails, where you have the lamp clamped on make sure you tie something up there so if the clamp comes off it will still be hanging (zip ties work great!), and make sure you have a good outside extension cord. You can also add Vaseline to combs and waddles to avoid frostbite. When we have snaps and sudden drops of temps that are not normal for our area (like now) I put a small shop heater in the coop to take the chill off. Shop heaters can deal with dust where household ones normally cant, it has a tip over shutoff, and stays cool to the touch making me feel safer. On our normal cold temps I don't supply extra heat. I have a backup of bringing them in the house if the electric fails because I have both natural gas heaters and a generator. Good luck in whatever you decide!
     
  3. FriscoRaven

    FriscoRaven Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm not sure what to do .. I have a small coop (just 5 chickens in there) so traditional space heaters don't really work (too much heat/power in such a small space).

    I don't typically provide a heat source and my girls have always done just fine. I'm just concerned that a drop of 50 degrees in a 12 hour period will be too much too fast.

    I think I have a lower watt heat bulb that I can probably put in to keep the edge off the cold. It's not ideal, and I'll probably be up half the night worrying about it, but it's a short term solution to a short term problem. I just hope I don't throw off their normal acclimation to cold temps when I turn it off.
     
  4. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Use a good electric cord, make sure it can't fall, and turn it off in the warmest part of the day that you decide to. When they are already roaming outside for the day the normal drop in temps will be fine. 50 in 12 hours is why I put heat in last night and tues morning is going to be the worst for us. Midday tues here it will be back to our normal winter temps so that is when I will turn mine off giving them time to get used to it again. You can put the heat lamp in one corner giving them the option to warm up if need be.
     
  5. SequoyahFarms

    SequoyahFarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We're all in a bit of the same jam. I decided to add a heat lamp to my coop. I wired it to the eye hook that my feeder hangs from and clamped it to a 2x4. It's just important to secure it from the top, where its intended to hang, so that if the clamp gets knocked off completely it will still be secure. Where mine is, if it does fall and hang by the wire, it still won't be touching anything flammable. So far I've kept my vent open and locked them in the coop for the day. They have 8 square feet per bird inside the coop which is nice when I do lock them up because I know they have room to move around, but the downside is that it's so big they can't produce enough body heat to warm it. Right now I can see my breath when I walk in, but its warm enough to keep the water from freezing. Like foreverlearning said, I too am not above bringing them inside my house if it came to it. At the end of it all, it's a personal choice. I know people in Alaska keep chickens in unheated coops, but my chickens have never seen temps this low and it was a huge drop
     
  6. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We had 50 degree temps this morning, they are calling for it to drop to 4 tonight, not including windchill. My birds are in a unheated, uninsulated open air coop, and I'm not worried at all. They can handle the temp swing. Don't waste your time putting any unneeded heatlamps, or any other heat source in the coop. The chickens will be fine. They have only evolved for thousands of years, so this is nothing to them.
     
  7. FriscoRaven

    FriscoRaven Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't typically provide any heat source; it's just the sudden swing that's making me nervous. this is my first winter with chickens, so I'm learning all of this as I go [​IMG]

    My coop has two "sections". The first section is mostly open-air and opens out to the run; there is a small enclosed doorway into the larger enclosed section. I don't ever close them in completely, but do lock up all doors daily so that no predators can get in and they can't get out. If they get cold, they can go into the larger more enclosed area where their food and water are located. That area has ventilation, so consequently some drafts.

    I'm also in Maryland .. have you experienced this before? I'd like to not add anything if it's not necessary, but I'd be devastated to lose all my girls over something that seems to be an easy fix, ya know?
     
  8. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Negative 14 deg F here all day and very high winds in the -40 deg range. First time ever that I have closed the pop doors in the coop! They still have open areas up high for ventilation and a couple 250W heat lamps. First time also that I have stayed inside all day as well without tending to the chickens, livestock, and dogs. Everyone is hunkered down! Just to dangerous to be out in the high winds and 3 ft drifts (15" of snow Yesterday). Tomorrow will be fun... I need to use a snow blower to clear a 1000 ft. long driveway. :-(

    Checkout the rainbow ring around the sun.... Probably ice crystals blowing around in the Atmosphere. Some big drifts on the porch I need to shovel as well. :-/

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014
  9. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I broke and added a heat lamp, but it is mainly for my elderly goat (yeah, that's what I'm telling myself [​IMG]) . They live in the same 8x16 building. I normally don't add heating to the coop, but the goat does horribly in the cold. I have it very secured and triple checked there was no way anyone could knock it down. Current temp here is 10, but feels like -16 with 34mph wind gusts.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014
  10. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014

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