First Winter? What temp do you wait until "turning the lamp on"?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mrsam3, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. mrsam3

    mrsam3 New Egg

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    Does anyone have any Rhode Island Reds or Plymouth Rock's? We are in Iowa and our coop is now at 22F, is that still safe? I turn on the heat lamps just in case. We have 6 Rhode Island Reds and 4 Plymouth Rock's...

    Wondering what temp the rest of you do before you introduce other heat sources?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    How old are they? I don’t provide heat past 5 weeks but that’s not at this time of year. The coolest I’ve had it with chicks 5 weeks old was with the temperatures getting down into the mid-40’s, though some just less than 6 weeks went through a night in the mid-20’s.

    I have no idea what age yours are or what the coop looks like. I don’t know if they are acclimatized. As long as they are fully feathered and a cool breeze is not hitting them, they should be OK. The lowest I’ve seen it here since I moved in 2007 has been 4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. I never provide heat.

    I don’t have those specific breeds but I have equivalent full-sized breeds. I provide no heat and always give them the option to go outside during the day if they wish. I took this photo at 4 degrees above zero Fahrenheit. You can see what they chose to do.


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  3. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Chickens do not need heat lamps. If allowed to, they will acclimate to the weather and come through just fine. Mama hens will take week-old baby chicks out into the snow. In fact, it is really hard on them when you heat the coop--imagine how you would feel if you came inside from working out in the snow in your winter coat and couldn't take take your coat off!

    If you make them dependent on a heat lamp, what happens to them if the power goes out? That's much harder on them than the cold in the first place.

    Heat lamps are a fire hazard, as well--I've heard too many stories here on BYC about coops burning down because of heat lamps.

    Chickens are hardy well into the negative numbers, especially if they have a place to get out of the wind, dry bedding, and plenty of food and unfrozen water. Frostbite is often caused more by a too-closed coop than an open one, since frostbite is cold + moisture, not cold alone. A too-tight coop doesn't allow for the moisture to escape, and then you have frostbite problems.

    We don't even consider heating our coop until temps are below -20 F, and there are people who raise chickens in Alaska without heat lamps. We have some Plymouth Rocks in our flock, but we also have lots of white Leghorns--and those are about the least cold-hardy birds you can find.

    I would turn the heat lamps of and let your girls get used to the weather ASAP, before it gets really cold there.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  4. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have several Reds and Rocks in the flock. Now would be fine to turn on a lamp to help with egg production or have a place for girls to bathe under. Be sure to leave vents open and position the lamp so that it creates indirect light. I leave the pop doors and upper downwind vents open year round so that they have access to the outside and fresh air.

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  5. mrsam3

    mrsam3 New Egg

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    They are about 10 months old and are producing eggs. In my area we could go as low as -10 but average around 5 or so in the cold months. It is a enclosed coop. There are some drafts though.. as well as a door that leads to a outside portion where wind can come in. I plan to seal that up later this winter. Here's some picks right after construction (of course now its a bit dirty)

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  6. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Temperature has absolutely nothing to do with egg production. It's actually light that helps to create those egg-laying hormones. Adding a heat lamp for egg production isn't the best choice because those red heat lamps do not trigger the hormone production needed to make eggs.
     
  7. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    We'll hit temperature of -30F this winter. I never turn on the heat for them.

    This week is our start of winter for us. Highs today and tomorrow of 29F and lows of 17F, rest of week in 40's and frost every night. Time to finally take the gladiola bulbs out of ground and set up the heated water fount.
     
  8. 3chickchicks

    3chickchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What about for those of us who get huge temperature swings? Where I live, they don't get time to become acclimated to cold weather. It was 74 yesterday and no wind. It's now 44 with 30 mph gusts and this is our high for today. Tonight is supposed to get down to 26. Mine have wind protection but going from the mid 70's to the mid twenties, isn't that a bit rough?
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’ve got the same weather swing coming up, though my low is supposed to be a bit lower than yours. It was nice to work outside in a T-shirt yesterday but I fear those days are gone until next year.

    They don’t get acclimatized in one day. It’s a gradual process. Has your temperature been 74 or higher for the last several months or have you experienced a few night with lower temperatures? I’ve already had a light freeze and frost.

    How do you plan to protect the wild birds outside? I imagine you have roadrunners like I do. Don’t you think those are really going to suffer?

    I’m trying to say relax. They will be OK as long as the cold wind is not hitting them directly in the coop. Even then, if they can move to a place in the coop where the wind is not hitting them, they should be OK. They’ve been surviving this kind of weather for thousands of years with no supplemental heat.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    A chicken is actually a bird. They can handle temperature swings and lows of 20's is nothing for chickens. Young chickens/chicks are another story. I'd only be concerned of drastic changes like 50's dropping to -10F the next day.
     

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