heat source

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by julie42a, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. julie42a

    julie42a Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 30, 2014
    Aberdeen, SD
    We've had highs in the single digits the last few days and lows well below zero at night. I have five hens in a converted garden shed that is mostly insulated. When the temps get this low I use a heat lamp and a small flat panel heater (I'm very disappointed in it) to keep them warm at night. I'd like to find something other than the heat lamp, because even though the light is red it still seems to throw off their sleep cycle a little and make them a bit cranky. I looked at ceramic heat emitters, but I am not sure what size is appropriate for my space? The coop is 6' tall in the center, and the 10'wide x 6'long. I think if I had more hens they would probably stay warmer :) but that's a chicken math problem for spring.
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    You're better off not heating them at all. Chickens do much better with consistent temps than cool/hot, cool/hot. They are acclimated to the cold weather with nice fluffy down coats. Think about this: put on all your outdoor gear - coat, hat, mittens, scarf, snow pants and boots. Go outside for an hour. Half an hour if it's really cold. Now, come back in and leave your gear on in your nice warm house. Leave it on for at least an hour. Your chickens don't get to take off their coats. I live in Western MN, about 1 1/2 hours east of you, so I do know what kind of temperatures you're talking about. My chickens are in an uninsulated, unheated coop and do just fine. They were actually outside in -11 the other day. My coops are more like sheds, both standing 8' at the peak. The chickens love roosting in the rafters.
     
  3. julie42a

    julie42a Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 30, 2014
    Aberdeen, SD
    Really???? Because they look miserable. And they'll go outside if it's above zero and not windy, but not for long. I think if there were a few more of them to fill the space and provide some body heat I wouldn't worry as much. And if the weather hadn't been so up and down. Last week it was almost 40 for a couple of days and now tomorrow night's low is supposed to be -20. Prairie weather, it's never dull.
     
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    On the MN prairie.
    You've got that right - if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it'll change...

    Are they shivering? If not, I wouldn't worry about it. They are made to adapt to the temperatures. I have one coop of older hens that won't go out, but my pullets hatched in May and July of this year go out every day for a bit. Not long, but a bit. My coops are big enough that body heat isn't necessarily being trapped, either. If your coop is dry - no extra humidity - they'll be fine. It's the humidity that gets them, and when you heat your coop, it does raise that. There is moisture when they breathe, and when they poop. Heat will keep that in the air. An ideal coop will have ventilation at the top that lets out warm, moist air. Honestly, I've had the same weather as you (we get what you have a few hours later), and my chickens are just fine. Really.
     
  5. julie42a

    julie42a Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 30, 2014
    Aberdeen, SD
    You know, I've seen the leghorn shiver a few times, but no one else. They stand on one foot a lot, like tiny flamingos, which makes me think their feet are cold. There is condensation when they breathe, and when I do, but even with the heat lamp on the poop freezes pretty much instantly, so that cuts down on some moisture. The floor is sand on top of plywood, so it stays pretty dry, and I have a roof vent and vents near the top of the walls. They are much more comfortable than I am, that's for sure! In this weather, it doesn't matter how much clothes I put on, it's miserable!
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    On the MN prairie.
    I hear ya there! It takes longer to bundle up to go out and do chores than it takes to do the chores! If it's one chicken shivering a few times, I really wouldn't worry about it. Mine do the flamingo stand, too, but I've also seen them do it in the summer. Do you have frost or condensation on the walls of your coop? That's another good way to tell if there is too much humidity in there. This chicken-keeping thing is an ongoing learning process. I'm constantly tweaking how I do things and rethinking what I want to feed them, how I want the coops, etc.
     
  7. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yes, dry is much more important than warm, assuming your birds are cold hardy and fully feathered breeds.
     
  8. julie42a

    julie42a Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 30, 2014
    Aberdeen, SD
    They are. And I went out there tonight as the temps are dropping to well below zero and I was fairly comfortable with all my layers on. I think I will leave the heat lamp on for nights like this (expected low -20) but I'm not quite as worried about them. I got three eggs today, so they must not be too stressed by the cold.
     
  9. julie42a

    julie42a Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 30, 2014
    Aberdeen, SD
    There's no frost or condensation on the walls or ceiling. They have a small heated water dish in there that gets some ice on the outside, but that's it, and I think that's because they spill it a lot. And no one has had any issues with frostbite, even though I don't always manage to put stuff on their combs (wow do they NOT appreciate that).
     

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