Heat in the winter?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickTree, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. ChickTree

    ChickTree Out Of The Brooder

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    I live in Maine and winters can get cooooold. I'm getting a bunch of crap from some friends saying we are mean to not provide heat lamps throughout the winter for our chickens...

    All the research I've done says it's not needed for adult chickens. What's the real truth?
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Raising chickens is like raising kids. People will give you all kinds of advice whether they have chickens (or kids) or not. You do your research, learn as much as you can and then sift through the advice to find what works for you. Your chickens do not need heat in the winter. Ventilation, protection from the elements, fresh food and water - yes. Again, do what you need to do and blow off the rest.
     
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  3. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm 53 years old. I've raised or have been a part of raising chickens 48 of those years.

    Not one time have we/I ever provided a heat source in the winter. Never lost a bird to the cold. Its not needed. Chickens have 10 thousand plus feathers.

    A coop that provides shelter from the wind, precipitation and draft free is all that is needed.

    Provide a good feed, unfrozen water and some scratch or cracked corn an hour or so before roost time and they will be completely fine.

    I had a great uncle whose chicken coop was completely open on the south side of the building. He never as so much put up plastic in the winter. There is also a poster here that has a open south facing coop and lives up north.

    We have 95 degrees and humidity to match coming this weekend. That worries me much more than the zero degree days or below with a minus 20 degree wind chill.

    I've never lost a bird to the cold but I have a 90% certainty I'll have at least one succumb to brutal heat if it lasts more than three or four days.
     
  4. ChickTree

    ChickTree Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you both so much!!
     
  5. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You are welcome.

    I'll say this as well. Living in Maine my guess is your birds will have to spend a lot of time in their house because of the length of time snow is on the ground. Make sure you don't have too many birds for you inside space. Overcrowding can lead to problems.

    Here in the part of Missouri I live in we get snow (although not much the past 10 years or so) but it usually doesn't stick around long. Snows one day and melts in three.
     
  6. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just want to add my own 2 cents. My coop is unheated but has lots of ventilation. Food and water are kept outside in the covered run. The girls thrived in the Montana winter and laid more eggs than we could use.
     
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    They can definitely handle cold better than too much heat.

    OP, tell your friends that the chickens have their own down coats that they can't take off when they come inside.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    No heat......except a heated waterer is a must, IMO, to keep water fluid in freezing weather.
    Lots of ventilation.... and lots of space in coop.... as they may well become coop bound for day at a time during those nasty stretches of weather.
    Unless you have a good sized run with a solid roof and some winterized walls to increase their winter space.
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Welcome to BYC! Come visit us on the Maine thread. Last winter was very mild. But the 2 previous? Horrid. I have to admit, that I have provided some supplemental heat when the temp goes to 20 below, and stays there 24/7 for days on end. I take my cue from the hens. If they get lethargic, if they are actually eating LESS, instead of more, like they should be... then they get a bit of heat. It may be more for my benefit than theirs, but the lethargy seems to lift when I've done it. I've used a heat lamp directed at the perches in my big coop. When I had a smaller coop (4 x 8 loft in an 8 x 8 cattle panel hoop coop) I just gave them a flower pot heater. But, generally speaking, if your winter stocking density is appropriate you should not need extra heat. Tell the "they said" folks to go take a hike. Take your cue from your birds. It also helps to have birds with small combs and wattles. (I'm working on breeding my own winter hearty flock with those attributes, plus non feathered feet, and colorful egg layers.) It also helps to give them a winter sun room. I have a CP green house near my run, and keep a path shoveled to it in the winter. When the flock does come out, they make a bee line to the green house, and spend the day gleefully dust bathing and searching for scratch and other yummies hidden in the pile of leaves I put in there. For several years, the green house was parked in my garden, and I planted one side to greens, covered with storm window panels, and gave them the other side to play in. They absolutely love having a warm sunny place to play in the soil in the middle of the winter... as do I!!!! I will not do winter without electricity in my coop or a heated waterer. I use a 5 qt dog bowl, and set a gallon jug of water in the middle to make a moat. An other thing that I think is important is LOTS of light in the coop. I lucked out and got a stash of thermopane windows and even a full glass panel thermopane door for the people door. LOTS of light for my gals. Good solar gain also!!! You can also give them some piles of hay to snuggle in.
     

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