First winter with a flock, I have some worries...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Aequacheek, Nov 17, 2019.

  1. Aequacheek

    Aequacheek In the Brooder

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    We have insulated part of our shed so we could keep our chicken inside through the winter. I live in Canada so temps can (and will)) go down to -30 C this winter. We bought this heater thinking it will be enough, but now I'm not sure. Temp in the coop is barely above zero today with the heater and a halogen light we have going during the daylight hours. The water won't freeze since it's next to the heater. There is only one electric plug in the coop so it's not feasible to add another heater. What temperatures can chicken reasonably tolerate during winter? Also they don't roost despite several perchs installed in the coop for them, they sleep on the litter (if that makes a difference for the cold tolerance)

    Should I maybe replace the bulb with a brooding for more heat?
     
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  2. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crossing the Road

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    That heater doesn't heat a room or space. It gives off radiant heat, which will warm the chicken. You just have one chicken? Make sure there is plenty of ventilation.
     
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  3. Aequacheek

    Aequacheek In the Brooder

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    I have three, but the coop is quite large for 3 chickens (so they wouldn't be able to heat it with their body heat). Also they tend to sleep away from the heater.
    We have a hair vent at the top of one wall, that's it. No sure it that's enough :/
     
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  4. DobieLover

    DobieLover Easily distracted by chickens

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    My Coop
    Can you please post pictures of your coop? That will help.
    The chickens do not need to heat up the coop. They generate their own heat which is trapped against their bodies by their feathers.
    What chickens need in order to remain warm during winter is a DRY and well ventilated coop that keeps drafts off the roosting birds. When considering what is acceptable and very necessary ventilation vs drafts, drafts will cause the feathers to blow in the wind. Ventilation will not.
    Based on your description, you are sorely lacking in ventilation and that will surely lead to cold chickens.
    You do need to keep the water thawed but you do not need to heat the coop for that. You can install a thermostatically controlled heater in the waterer. And the waterer should be of a closed style if it is kept inside the coop to prevent evaporation from occurring inside the coop which will be a constant source of additional humidity.
     
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  5. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

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    My Coop
    This will be my first winter with laying hens here in northern Minnesota. I bought the exact same Cozy Coop heater for my chicken coop. As mentioned, this is a radiant heater which will heat up a chicken standing in front of the heater. The Cozy Coop heater is not designed to heat the chicken coop itself.

    I have dual purpose breed chickens, that are supposed to be cold tolerant. I don't plan on turning on my Cozy Coop heater until it gets down to about -20F (-30C). If I lose birds before it gets that cold, then I will turn on the heater as necessary. In theory, my chickens should not need extra heat in the winter. Last winter we had a 2 week stretch of -45F (-43C) without a break. Many people lost birds during that extreme cold spell. So, theory or not, people around here had a run on the local farm store and bought out all their Cozy Coop heaters.

    I have the old fashioned metal waterer with the Little Giant metal base heater.

    Little giant base heater.jpg


    That heater is only 125 watts, combined with the 200 watt Cozy Coop heater, you should not overload your electric power line. I have my metal base heater and waterer in my coop, so it does provide a small amount of heat to the coop as it warms the water above freezing.

    Again, in theory, a cold tolerant chicken should be able to survive extreme cold winter temps, provided they have access to fresh water and feed. As long as you keep them dry, they can fluff up their feathers to trap in warm air to their bodies.

    If your chickens don't use their roosts, I would wonder why as most chickens naturally prefer to roost higher above the ground. At least all 10 of my chickens do. Is there a draft under their roosts that may be blowing on them at night? Ventilation should be above their heads as they roost for the night. If there is a draft below them, it messes up with their feathers and causes them to lose heat.

    I use a dry deep litter bedding in the coop. It is about 8 inches of wood chips. If my chickens, for some reason, start to sleep on the floor, I at least know they have 8 inches of insulation underneath them.

    Some people use brooding lamps in their coops to heat the chickens and raise the temp in the coop. One always has to worry about that lamp being knocked down into the litter and causing a fire. I think your Cozy Coop heater provides good heat directly to the chickens and you would not need a brooding lamp. As this is also my first winter with laying hens, and I have the same concerns as you, I'll wish both of us good luck.
     
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  6. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crossing the Road

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    If they aren't roosting near the heater, they are telling you they don't need it. I agree with DobieLover, what you need is more ventilation.
     
  7. gtaus

    gtaus Crowing

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    My Coop
    In the USA, we use air vents. :D In any case, most people recommend air vents installed on opposite sides, or ends, of the coop so the air can move through from one end to the other naturally. That helps keep the moisture down and the coop drier. Again, the ventilation should be above the heads of roosting chickens from everything I have read.

    If your birds sleep away from the Cozy Coop heater, I would take that as a sign they don't want/need any extra heat at this time. I would either shut off the heater for now, or at least make sure it is on the low setting.
     
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  8. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Crowing

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    The weather in my area also gets down to -30 C or -22 F. Have never had an insulated coop or used heat to keep the coop warm. The birds are outside in the protected run all day when the temperatures are that low. They don't look miserable. They lay just fine in those conditions.

    A chicken can get frostbite at just below freezing in a coop that is closed up and humid. Chickens can also avoid frostbite when it is -30 C if the coop is well ventilated to keep the humidity down.

    A dry chicken is a warm chicken. That is what you need to remember.

    Think about those little sparrows outside all winter long. Do they look miserable and cold all the time? They do just fine in the winter because they trap warmth underneath their feathers and find a dry place out of the wind to spend the night.
     
  9. Aequacheek

    Aequacheek In the Brooder

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    Thank you so much for all the explanations guys. I googled a lot while building the coop and I thought I had all the answers lined up but I had trouble finding infos for coops in real harsh winters. I have only one vent so I will add another, and try moving the roost around (they roost with no problem in their summer tractor so I know something is bothering them). I should have come here first to ask :)
     
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  10. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crossing the Road

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    Don't feel bad. We are designing a new coop this year. We bought plans from someone for the first one, and it has served us okay for four years, but never did hold the amount of chickens they said it would. We added a couple small ones along the way to accommodate our flock, but this time I will have one big coop for everyone. Can't wait. We are all somewhere on the learning curve. :highfive:
     
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