Heat in Coops?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by TheDuffields, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. TheDuffields

    TheDuffields Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 2, 2013
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    Hi! I'm new to BYC and a soon to be chicken owner (hopefully this summer/fall).

    I live up North in Minnesota where it can get awfully cold....Like this past week it was -15 degrees. Do people generally heat their chicken coops? If so, how do you heat it? It would seem cruel to not heat them in this type of climate and I want my chickens as comfortable as possible without bringing them in the house with me ;)

    Thank you!

    Leigh
     
  2. Jakoda

    Jakoda Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Leigh, there are lots of opinions on heating ones coops..I think the majority don't.

    I am in CT and I, like you, feel bad when it gets REALLY cold here! My chicks don't seem to mind:) They say, that you don't want a coop really warm as the chickens won't adjust to cold weather which you rather want them to.

    One thing to keep notice of is, combs & wattles, if they get black spots/black it could be frostbite. Mine had a couple of areas last week when we were in sub zero weather, so I vaselined up their combs and wattles.

    Another thing, if you do decide to heat, be very careful of what you use, heat lamps I would not, to much of a fire risk. I have seen 'boards' that look like cutting boards? that throw out radiant heat , I would t hink they would be much safer...Sweeter heaters is a website to check out.

    Next year when I rebuild my barn/shed ,,I am probably going to look for something to keep my inside coop area to around 40 degrees.. IF it gets really cold outside..

    There are many here more knowledgeable than I, and if you do a 'search' about heated coops you'll come up with alot of ideas/opinions
     
  3. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    New Brunswick,Canada
    [​IMG]

    Oops! Now $2.50 a doz

    First I would like to welcome the Duffields to BYC.

    Now!
    On the subject of heating coops in this form; You will find almost as many opinions on this subject as there are members.


    I personally have been around the sun 63 times and have raised birds for decades. I would first suggest you select a cold hearty bird for your set up. I take it you are raising chickens for their eggs not for to show or freezer meat.

    You may want to entertain a dual purpose bird or heritage bird in your loft. These are just a couple suggestion you may not already have explored.

    I would like to invite you to read my thread (you can click on the blue title to arrive there) Chickens Arctic Conditions Prolonged Period to obtain my experience in raising chickens in sometimes Arctic conditions. Always keep in mind that not all information provided here may work in your coop, climate, or geography.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    :frow Welcome to the forum! :frow Glad you joined us! :frow


    As Jakoda said, many people don’t. I don’t but my lowest temperatures seldom get much colder than a few degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Here’s a photo of showing what mine do when I leave the pop door open and a cold wind is not blowing. Mine really don’t like a cold wind hitting them and will seek shelter then. It was 4 degrees above zero Fahrenheit when I took this photo.

    [​IMG]

    Here is another thread that you may find interesting.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/421122/think-its-too-cold-for-your-chickens-think-again

    Then I think anyone thinking of building a coop and run should read these Muddy Run and Ventilation articles and in your case the Cold Weather article. I know, a lot of homework, but you asked the question. And it is a good question. The lady that wrote these was living in Ontario, so maybe she has more credibility with you than I do. She should.

    Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-winter-coop-temperatures

    Pat’s Big Ol' Mud Page (fixing muddy runs):
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-fix-a-muddy-run

    We all keep chickens in different situations and conditions, climate, flock size and make-up, urban versus rural, different coops and runs, and we use different management techniques. There cannot be one simple answer on much of anything that covers us all.

    How well your chickens do in cold weather depends on a few things. They need to be relatively healthy to start with. A chicken in poor health is a weak chicken and is susceptible to stress. With their down coat chickens handle cold much better than heat. High temperatures kill a whole lot more chickens than cold temperatures and even then, those were probably not in the best of health to start with. And some chickens are much stronger than others anyway.

    You need to pay attention to the breeds that do better in cold weather. In my opinion this one is overrated a lot but there is still some merit to it. The biggest risk to chickens in cold is not them freezing to death but frostbite, especially to comb and wattles. Chickens with pea, rose, or walnut combs are less susceptible than chickens with big floppy single combs. Plenty of people in your climate keep single combed chickens in coops without heat and don’t have problems with frostbite, but those that have frostbite problems usually have single combed chickens. Naked Necks have about half the feathers of regular chickens and bare skin yet they are considered a cold-hardy breed. Our concepts of what chickens need are often based on what we need, not them.

    I guess this is time for one of my usual rants. There is often a big difference in what can happen and what will absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, always and forever happen 100% of each and every time under any and all conditions. A lot of people on this forum seem to have trouble with that concept.

    I think a really important thing is the type of shelter you give them at night. Wind chill is real. You probably know that. A cold wind blowing is about the only thing that keeps mine from foraging. During the day they will find a place to get out of the cold wind, but they are a bit stuck up on a roost. You need to have your roosts positioned where the wind does not hit them directly.

    But the other side to that is that they need good ventilation to get the humidity and ammonia out. How do you manage that and keep a breeze off them? Ammonia is lighter than air and warm air rises and carries more moisture with it. Have the ventilation openings above their heads when they are sleeping. As long as the breeze is not hitting them directly it is hard to have too much ventilation even in your climate. And in summer, open ventilation holes at their level or under them. They need a lot more ventilation in hot weather.

    A coop built on the ground is going to be a bit slower to change temperatures in severe weather swings than an elevated coop. That’s due to the thermal mass of the ground. The ground will still freeze in your coop in the winter and probably stay frozen until the spring thaw, but it does provide a tiny bit of additional protection.

    I’m not going to tell you what to do. We all have to make up our own minds on how we manage them. I’m just trying to give you some information so you can better make up your mind. You might want to join your state thread and talk to people around you to see what they do.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/72771/minnesota/990#post_10386341

    Good luck and again :frow
     
  5. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    Oops! Duplicate Post.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  6. TheDuffields

    TheDuffields Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 2, 2013
    Minnesota
    Thanks for all of the info!!

    Oh, so much more research there is to do! Good thing I have a while before we plan to get chickens!
     

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