Getting Chilly outside!

LiveInBliss

In the Brooder
5 Years
Sep 6, 2014
23
0
22
Denver, Colorado
Hi All,

Wanted to get some advice on when to put a heating source in.. It's going to get down to 30 tonight and has been raining for 24 hours so I'm sure the ladies are getting chilly...

One: Do I just get the water heater so that water doesn't freeze?
Two: OR do I get both the water heater and heat lamp? I've heard the heat lamp is over kill and sometimes might hurt them so any feedback is greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
 

TwoCrows

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Hello there and welcome to BYC!
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You really don't need any heat in your coop. Unless it is planning on getting down to minus 30 or more, chickens can tolerate brutally cold temps. Chickens are designed to acclimate over the fall to tolerate all kinds of cold weather. As long as you have them roosting in a draft free space close to the floor and adequate venting in your eaves, (1 square foot per bird) which you leave open so the warm moist air from the pooping and breathing can escape, your birds will stay warm. Only if you are going to see a huge drop off from normal and way down in the Minus temps, no heat is needed. Chickens need to be able to go outside even on the coldest of snowy days. So the coop shouldn't be a lot warmer than the outside air.

But should the temps be predicted to get well in the negative numbers, you can add a small heat lamp. Not to warm the coop, but to warm the air around the birds a bit. And always permanently attach the lamp to the wall so it can not fall and start a fire. Never rely on that clamp only.

I like to tack an old towel to the roost bar in the early winter to keep the feet warm. Warm feet mean warmer birds.

You can use heated water bases or dog water dishes to keep the water from freezing, but you don't need to run these at night since the birds are not drinking while they are sleeping.

Good luck with your birds this winter! Remember good ventilation is the key! You don't want all that moist air to refreeze and fall back as frost on your birds or just as bad, water! So let the air move and they will do fine. :)
 

Michael OShay

Crowing
5 Years
May 14, 2014
25,581
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Montana
Hello again. :eek:) I would not use a heat lamp. Feathers are excellent insulators and I have had chickens in temperatures as low as 30 F below zero do just fine with a well insulated, dry, and draft free coop. Dampness is a far greater danger than temperature, so make sure you have no leaks in the ceiling or moisture seeping in through the walls or blowing in through the entrance of the coop. As far as the water, I use a Water Heater Base and galvanized waterers and they work very well. If you are not familiar with them, you can see one at https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/no_freeze_heater_base.html. Good luck in winterizing your coop.
 

Mountain Peeps

Jesus is my life
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6 Years
Apr 23, 2014
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Colorado
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You need to have a water heater for sure. You don't necessarily have to have a heat lamp if you have proper ventilation and bedding.

Other things to do to help keep your chickens snug this winter include using straw as a bedding, using the 4" inch side of a 2x4 roosts. I also put a towel that has been in the dryer and put it on the roosts to warm their feet. Make sure that there is no water spillage or moisture collection on the bedding as this can also result in frostbite. On the very cold nights you should rub vaseline on the chickens' combs and wattles to help prevent freezing.
Here's a link on frostbite.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/frostbite

You don't need a heat lamp if you have ventilation, proper bedding, proper roosts and proper feed. In the winter you should be feeding your normal layer, grower or chick feed along with scratch as this will keep the birds warm especially if you feed it in the evenings.
 

drumstick diva

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Boy, I could use a warmed towel on my roost (computer chair). I am on BYC day and night and it's cold in the basement.
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Welcome to BYC- glad you joined the flock.
 

LiveInBliss

In the Brooder
5 Years
Sep 6, 2014
23
0
22
Denver, Colorado
You guys are AWESOME!

Thank you for clearing up my confusion! I am completely confident that they will be fine as long as drinking water stays wet.

So as far as their roost goes... I used a scrap 4 inch square piece of 2X4. It's about 4 ft off the ground and the entire length of coop. Their nesting boxes are about 2 feet off the ground and they have yet to go on/in either. However, the clutch is only 12 weeks this coming Monday so they are still young. They have been sleeping in a heap on the ground. Should I lower roost or will they figure it out?

I have put a few of them up there but they didn't stay long..

Thanks again!
 

Mountain Peeps

Jesus is my life
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Apr 23, 2014
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677
Colorado
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You guys are AWESOME! 

Thank you for clearing up my confusion! I am completely confident that they will be fine as long as drinking water stays wet.

So as far as their roost goes... I used a scrap 4 inch square piece of 2X4. It's about 4 ft off the ground and the entire length of coop. Their nesting boxes are about 2 feet off the ground and they have yet to go on/in either. However, the clutch is only 12 weeks this coming Monday so they are still young. They have been sleeping in a heap on the ground. Should I lower roost or will they figure it out?

I have put a few of them up there but they didn't stay long..

Thanks again!

You probably don't have to lower it. What I did was place them on the roost every night for a few nights. They are creatures of habit so once they start sleeping up there they will continue even if you don't help them.
 

BantamLover21

Crowing
7 Years
Jul 24, 2013
23,660
1,567
426
welcome-byc.gif
Glad you joined us!

How old are your chickens? If they're older than about 14 weeks, they don't need supplemental heat in these temperatures. If it does get colder, though, the above posters have given you some great suggestions as to how to keep them warm.
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Good luck with your chickens!
 

TwoCrows

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Project Manager
Premium Feather Member
Mar 21, 2011
48,817
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New Mexico, USA
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You guys are AWESOME!

Thank you for clearing up my confusion! I am completely confident that they will be fine as long as drinking water stays wet.

So as far as their roost goes... I used a scrap 4 inch square piece of 2X4. It's about 4 ft off the ground and the entire length of coop. Their nesting boxes are about 2 feet off the ground and they have yet to go on/in either. However, the clutch is only 12 weeks this coming Monday so they are still young. They have been sleeping in a heap on the ground. Should I lower roost or will they figure it out?

I have put a few of them up there but they didn't stay long..

Thanks again!
You can make some steps up to the bar to help them access the roost. 4 feet is kind of high and jumping down can cause sprains. You might want to lower it a bit. Maybe to 2 1/2 to 3 feet. :)
 

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