Heat and light for a New Hampshire winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Eddyfrost, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. Eddyfrost

    Eddyfrost New Egg

    May 9, 2011
    I am a new chicken keeper building my first coop for 6 hens. I'm planning a 60 Watt fluorescent light bulb on a timer or light...but what about warmth? Do I need a heat lamp or a heat map for the water feeder? All advice appreciated!
  2. wyododge

    wyododge Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 30, 2011
    Nope you don't need heat, they have all the insulation they need.

    For water, I use a five gallon bucket with poultry nipples and a bird bath de-icer, some use submersible aquarium heaters. Works well, easy to fill, and freeze proof. I also have a 130 Gallon water storage tank in an insulated box with a stock tank heater and a pump to fill the bucket. so we don't have to carry water.

    The five gallon bucket with nipples is very inexpensive, and essentially worry free.
  3. outlawfarmer

    outlawfarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2010
    New Hampshire
    I went to feed store and spent the 35 on a water can warmer that turns on at 32 degrees or less. It's basically a 3 dollar metal feed tray you set your metal watering can on and the thermostat and heating element ate mounted under the pan. I know they don't need it but when it hit 10 degrees for the first few days in a row I bought a 9 dollar halogen work light at homedepot and screwed it to the inside of the ark. Put it where water and wood shavings and birds couldn't hit it. As I had no light but a string of led Christmas lights prior to that, they were warning up under the halogen and started popping out eggs.
  4. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Quote:A lot depends on the coop that you are building. It is of major importance that you plan on plenty of ventilation without having the chickens in drafts, and that the chickens can stay dry in the coop. The combination of wet/humidity/cold can be deadly. Also the size of the coop impacts the ability of the chickens to keep warm.
    Are the breeds that you have cold hardy?
    Although it is not necessary to have heat & light in the coop, many people do because they view their chickens more as pets rather than food. There is nothing wrong with supplying heat or light, if that is what you choose to do. Make sure you do everything to keep it safe.

    Good luck,
  5. ScottyHOMEy

    ScottyHOMEy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2011
    Waldo County, Maine
    If you're in New Hampshire, it's certain that you will need something to keep you birds in water in its liquid form over the course of the winter. This is easily accomplished with the kind of heater that outlawfarmer described, a galvanized platform for a metal waterer to rest on. The plastic brand of waterers are also available in a version that plugs in to keep it thawed.

    Apart from that, it's your choice for heat for the birds. In my experience, the general consensus is that it's a bad idea, assuming you've got cold hardy breeds. As the fall progrresses to hard winter, those breeds will feather up to withstand more cold than most folks will imagine. Part of that hardiness will be small/compact combs not prone to frostbite. To provide heat to them could be deadly, as they will not have feathered up to withstand the cold, and could perish in a single night if the power should be lost.

    If you have more delicate birds or those of breeds not so winter-hardy, some heat might be in order, but will suffer in the event of a power outage without backup/standby power.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2011
  6. AV Brahmas

    AV Brahmas Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 30, 2011
    The Great White North
    Just a point of clarification here. Chickens are not like some animals with a winter coat and if they were, probably the length of the day and not the holding temperature would trigger the event. They have feathers. They moult them and grow a new set. Combs and wattles are genetically determined by breed more than environment. I have thought about it hard and having raised a lot of different breeds I cannot say that I have found a chicken that is not cold hardy. Leghorns and others with massive single combs are prone to frostbite and it hurts them but rarely is there long term harm other than in the showroom where the lost comb would not be a good thing. Even silkies are tremendously cold hardy. For reasons that are not clear, sometimes coloration plays a factor. In Orpingtons we had problems with frostbitten toes in the buffs but never in the blacks. But ultimately, chickens are cold hardy and there is rarely a need for supplemental heat. Major exception would be some of the smaller bantams like OE games but only in sub zero temps. I have seen breeders with massive kill off of these in extreme cold. In our experience a sudden change from cold to hot is more harmful than the reverse.

    As to heating the water? We don't do it here. Electricity out of doors from building to building and all those expensive heaters just is too much risk and too much expense. Heated fountains are a breeding ground for bacteria so sanitation, which most people think is unnecessary in winter actually becomes a primary concern. So we pass on it.

    We give warm water in the morning and then again in late afternoon. Take the buckets in at night, clean them and return them in the AM. It stays liquid a good long time. Once it is frozen, the birds can and do eat snow in the runs. Once they learn to do that you never have to worry about hydration but, just to be kind, warm water AM and PM.
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    You don't NEED to have a heated watering system, of course, as you can just carry water every day. Even those places that have winter, yet almost every day is above the 32F mark, so the water is fine.

    Others, like where we live, have to heat the water, or carrying becomes burdensome. A bucket of water would freeze in an hour or two. With an old ice cream pail and large heated dog dish, we're fine. Still, I swap out the little pail(s) everyday. But, I also have to collect eggs twice a day during the severe snaps so, there just is going to be more care in the winter. Comes with the territory.

    We choose to supplement the pre-dawn lighting. Our days are extremely short, only 7 hours long at the "bottom" of winter. (Dec-Jan). As for heating the birds? No, there's no ability to do in such a large building. We keep cold hardy breeds, provide nice wide roosting bars and they are active and healthy. With wide open ventilation, there's no frostbite either.

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