Heat in the winter...we're talking minus 40 here!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lynn57, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. Lynn57

    Lynn57 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 10, 2009
    Hi everyone, Well I've read so many posts about if one should add heat and if so how much etc. But it seems all that I've read is about the lucky folks whom don't have to deal with -20 to -40. I have a nice insulated shed (12x10) with a south window and ten hens. I'll use a heated water bowl and have a 100watt light bulb on for daylight...but surely they will need more then that, right? What do you think?

    thanks soooo much

  2. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    If the coop is insulated, you shouldn't really have a problem. Birds generate a lot of their own heat. If you're worried about it, try using a heat lamp.

    All of my ducks and chickens made it through last winter (plenty of -20 and -40 temps, with an even colder wind chill) without an insulated coop or any lamps for heat. I had a few frostbitten toes, that was it.
  3. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

  4. Lynn57

    Lynn57 Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 10, 2009
    Okay, thats great to know! Thanks so much!
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    There is a thread, I *think* it is in the coop and run section of BYC, on people in serious winter climates... it has a lot of posts from people in upper Alaska who regularly get below -40. You should read it.

    In large part it depends whether you mean -20F or -20C, and how much of your winter days stay below that temperature.

    FWIW, on my property it occasionally gets down to -35 C (what's that, not quite -30 F?), you can count on a number of winter days when it does not get *up to* -20 C (that's 0 F)... but it stays really pretty warm in my coop because it is very large, concrete slab floor, and has heavily insulated 6" stud walls and ceiling. I do not believe that last winter it got below -8ish C (22 F) inside the coop, with no supplemental heat except for a small passive solar setup. However this only works because it is a LARGE building, 15x40 -- a more normal sized coop would get much colder.

    Even in a smaller coop, though, 6" stud walls, and a low enough stocking density that you don't have to have large amounts of ventilation open all the time, will really help you keep the temperature up. And you can add something of the passive solar heating genre if you wish - I get a big enough boost in my very large thermally-stable coop that I am pretty sure it would really kick *ss in a smaller coop, assuming you had decent thermal mass to *hold* some of that heat for the overnight period.

    Lots of winter-hardy chickens are fine down well below 0 F, though, under good conditions -- so do not assume that you necessarily need to keep the coop real warm.

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    I am a softie. I provide heat (250 watt ceramic bulb). And when it gets down to (and stays at) -15F and below, I provide a secondary heat source (red lamp). My coop isn't exactly the Bahamas - it ranges from -5F to 13F inside. It is well insulated (walls and roof), weather sealed with Tyvec and has 2 double-paned windows (South and East). I do, however, keep the pop door open during the day unless it is 0F and below, so I am losing some heat that way. And of course, some of the heat goes out the vents, but that's okay. Make sure your coop has no drafts - I was always surprised at how much warmer the coop "seemed" than what I read on the thermometer. I think it was because there was no draft. If you are running electric out to the coop for your water, why not just keep a red light on hand to hook up in case you need it? I keep a digital thermometer that transmits to a dock that I have in my kitchen so I can see what the temp is at any time inside the coop.

    More chickens = more body heat. I only have 4 chickens, so they don't do much to generate enough body heat to make much of a difference in their coop.
  7. fadetopurple

    fadetopurple Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 15, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  8. ella

    ella Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm in Minnesota too, going into my 7th winter with chickens. I use electric milkhouse heaters wired to the ceiling. I take them down every few weeks to clean them out with an air hose.

    A heat lamp would work for a small area, remember to keep that clean too, dust can build up really thick in a coop. And be sure it's secured so it can't fall into the bedding.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2009
  9. Sjisty

    Sjisty Scribe of Brahmalot

    May 18, 2009
    Ya'll could always come down here to Florida - we need more chicken people!
  10. AK Michelle

    AK Michelle Bad Girl of the North

    Mar 17, 2009
    Palmer, Alaska
    I'm in Alaska and some of my friends don't provide heat, and like someone said in an earlier post, you lose some toes to frostbite.

    I am insulating my coop and providing the girls with 2X4's to roost on with the 4" side horizontal so their feathers will cover thier toes while they are roosting thus avoiding frostbite. I do have a lamp but it doesn't put out much heat it's just for me to see by.

    This will be my first winter with chickens but I am being told by all my localsources that I won't need to add heat, the girls will do that themselves. I do have a thermometer in there and so far it's plenty warm but the outdoor temp hasn't dropped below 35 yet.

    Last winter we had of 3 weeks of -35 to -40. and about 3 or 4 months where it never got above -25 so we do get some good solid cold.

    Good luck to you.

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