Heat coop or not

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by eagle227, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. eagle227

    eagle227 In the Brooder

    Jul 11, 2014
    I use an old mini barn 12x16 for my chicken coop. I have 15 Buff Orphingtons and 10 New Hampshire Reds. Should I put a heat lamp in the coop for the winter months, I live in Indiana and it gets below zero in the winter. I was thinking about hanging a heat lamp over the water to keep it from freezing which would serve as heat for the chickens also. Any advive would be appreciated. This is my first winter with chickens I was also told that you need a light in the coop in the winter or the chicken won't lay as many eggs. Is this true or not?
  2. WYNot

    WYNot Songster

    Mar 19, 2013
    Casstown, OH
    Quick answer is no. As long as they have good food, fresh water, dry bedding, and a place to roost that is well ventilated but draft free, they are good to go.

    Search the forum for winterizing coop, and other related terms. LOTS of info and opinions.

    Edit to answer the 2nd part...

    Correct, their egg production will decrease a bit as the daylight hours grow shorter. How much depends on the chickens. Some people add lights on timers to keep production up. Others stick with natural light to give the girls a break during the winter months. Again there are pros and cons to each and depends on what you have your birds for and your philosophy on animal husbandry practices.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2014
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Well, think of it this way. It gets colder in New Hampshire and I'm sure they didn't have heat in their hen houses in 1900.
    While Kent, England isn't quite as cold, Orps handle cold quite well.

    The short answers are no and no. They don't need heat, nor do they need light.

    Another thought is, can you afford to supply heat through the winter. Supplying heat with electric is expensive.
    Also, what would happen to the chickens if they got used to heat and you had a power outage. They wouldn't be acclimated. A chicken kept cozy at night and goes out into a cold wind in the morning is very stressed.
    They also need a dark period each night so unless you used a non light producing heat source, the lack of darkness would be detrimental.

    Those 2 breeds should lay well through their first winter. Thereafter, they'll molt each subsequent autumn and may take a while to start up again after molt due to the shorter days so you could consider adding a light on a timer to raise the day length to 12-14 hours.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2014
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I agree. It is not necessary to heat the coop to keep the chickens warm. I’ve seen chickens sleep in trees in weather below zero Fahrenheit. They were in a sheltered valley in a pretty thick thicket so they were pretty well protected against wind and had great ventilation, but the pure cold did not phase them.

    One trusted member of this forum told a story of a flock of chickens that went feral in Northern Michigan. They spent the winter sleeping in trees and foraging for all their own food and water. They may not have thrived but they made it through to the spring OK. You are going to be providing food and water so yours will do extremely well.

    Keeping water thawed is an issue many people struggle with. I’m further south than you and just use black rubber tubs. If they freeze I just turn them over and stomp the ice out or bang them on something, then refill them. I set them out in the sun (when there is sun) and the solar heat on that black rubber keeps them thawed in some pretty low temperatures. That’s not going to work for everyone. There are different options such as a homemade cookie tin heater or a heated dog bowl. Just be careful not to burn your coop down.

    This is my first winter with chickens I was also told that you need a light in the coop in the winter or the chicken won't lay as many eggs. Is this true or not?

    Whether or not you provide light is a personal choice. There are a lot of pros and cons. With first year pullets yours might lay throughout the winter with no additional lights. They might not. With chickens it is sort of instinctive for them to quit laying and go into a molt when the days get shorter. They use the food that normally goes to making eggs and make feathers instead. Food is harder to come by in the winter anyway so it is not a good time to lay eggs and hatch chicks. But a lot of times pullets don’t follow that schedule. I don’t know what yours are going to do.

    Some hens will return to laying eggs after they finish a molt regardless of how short the days are. Some will wait until the days get longer and the weather warms up. In the heat of summer or the cold dark days of winter some hens reduce the amount of eggs they lay. Some don’t. It’s not an absolute yes or no, truth or lie question. It depends on the individual hen. No one, including me, can tell you what will happen with your hens.
  5. eagle227

    eagle227 In the Brooder

    Jul 11, 2014
    Thanks you for your replies to my question. It has helped me out a lot, being my first time at raising chicken I have found out there is more to learn than I first thought. I have received good information to all my question on here.
  6. maria0

    maria0 In the Brooder

    Jul 23, 2014
    Conklin, NY
    following, because I am a new egg, and our coop has no electric and too far away from the house to run a line too. I feed the Blue Jays all winter and I guess I assumed with proper shelter, birds will fare well in Winter. Luckily someone is always home to check on the water, but I don't anticipate it freezing over that much, we live in upstate NY, where some nights it can get below zero but the average day time temps only dip below freezing for a few days in the winter, nothing we can't handle.

    So I'm crossing my fingers my birds do well! I have 2 Buff orphs, 1 barred rock, 1 Wyandotte, 2 standard Brahma's and 2 Easter eggers. Our coop is off the ground and the walls are insulated :) good Luck to you!!

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