Heat or Insulate young chicks in WI winter?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 1310, Nov 14, 2013.

  1. 1310

    1310 New Egg

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    Sep 11, 2013

    I have four 10 week old cold hardy hens. I also built a 4X8 shed to use as a coop for them. The coop is all ready for the ladies, but I am afraid to move them from the comfy garage with the heat lamp.

    My question is…do they need to heat lamp in the coop? It gets below zero here in Green Bay, WI for days at a time. I am worried about them freezing to death since they are not full grown yet. The coop is built with normal siding board, with one window, but not insulated. I will be using the deep litter method hoping it produces some heat for the ladies.


    On the other hand, I am worried they will never leave the coop to enjoy the outdoor if I heat the coop. What have you experienced.
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I am in the "no heat" camp but I have to say, you aren't doing them any favors having heat on them at 10 weeks of age. They should have been weaned off the heat weeks ago. I've never had heat on them beyond 4 weeks and by 6 weeks they are fully feathered and definitely don't need it. By offering heat now, you are delaying their acclimatization to cooler temperatures, making it harder for them to transition.

    Reasons not to offer heat:

    * They don't need it! Birds grow a downy undercoat that keeps them warm. Wild birds don't have heat and survive winters just fine.
    * Coop fires. Stick around the forum and you WILL read about several coop fires among our very own members this winter, almost always started by someone trying to provide heat to their coop.
    * Power outages. Once the birds are reliant on heat, what happens when you have a power outage and they don't have it for a day or two? They suffer worse than if they'd never had it in the first place.

    I'm sure there are others - those are just the ones that immediately spring to mind.

    I'm not in Wisconsin but where I live it does occasionally get down to the single digits. I won't say they're happy at those temps, but they survive them.

    I don't insulate either. What birds need MOST is good ventilation. Ammonia build-up from a poorly ventilated coop is far worse for them than cold temperatures. It is almost impossible to provide good ventilation AND insulation.

    The best set-up is a coop that has good ventilation while not being drafty. The best way to think about it is: a draft is air flow that is blowing directly over the birds. Ventilation is allowing for good air exchange. So, ideally, your ventilation will be at a level higher than the birds are roosting, so that stale air can move out and be replaced by fresh air, while not blowing directly ON the birds.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
  3. 1310

    1310 New Egg

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    Sep 11, 2013
    Thanks for the quick reply.

    I agree they don't need the heat lamp anymore. Its a warmer than normal day today and I shut it off since it was so high it was not producing much heat at bird level anyway.

    I have two vents that are 3 in by 9 inches in my coop now. Do you think that is enough for four birds?
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    It all depends on the overall size of the coop and the orientation of the vents. I.e., are the vents located on opposite sides of the coop? If so, that encourages better air flow than two vents side by side on the same side. Also, are they on the walls of the coop that match the prevailing winds in your area? That will make a difference too.
     
  5. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    I've heard it recommended you have 1 SQ FT of ventilation per bird, which is 144 SQ IN
    You currently have 54 SQ IN total
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2013
  6. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I hadn't heard that but I like it - a nice easy way to remember it!
     
  7. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

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    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2013

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