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Heat the coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Patoot, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. Patoot

    Patoot Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2010
    I have 4 chickens and live in Albuquerque. We are having a winter storm right now. They finally went back in their coop and I made sure they have food and non-frozen water in there. It's supposed to drop down to 8 tonight, high of 20 tomorrow day, and -5 tomorrow night. They are Rhode Island Reds. Should I go out in the snow and try to find a heater at Lowes or something?

    If not, is there something I should do to protect their combs and wattles?

    Thanks for the help.

  2. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    I wouldnt. They are already showing you that they can handle the weather. As long as the coop is not too big, is draft free and dry, they should be fine. A heater is a fire hazard and they may become too hot. Some people put vaseline on the combs and wattles of their birds but I havent. Been as cold as -15 and my girls are doing fine. They still insist on going out.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    What are your normal winter temps? If they are not even used to single digits and it's supposed to be -5, and your coop does not usually stay lots warmer than the outdoor air on winter nights, I guess I could see an argument for maybe doing something.

    If the coop is big enough to allow it to be mounted safely, a regular 60w or 100w lightbulb in a safe fixture will make a plenty-big-enough pool of warmth for just 4 chickens. You need it in a heatlamp (brooder lamp) type fixture, or at least a GOOD quality clamp-light fixture with a round metal reflector SECURELY attached, and the wire guard in place over the fixture (whichever kind of fixture it is); and hang it above the chickens' head height so that they cannot whomp into it or stick their combs between spaces in the wire guard and burn themselves.

    If the coop is really tiny and reach-in, there may be nowhere to safely put even just a 40-60w bulb. In that case, if it were me I would probably vaseline their combs and wattles, clean the coop so it is as dry and un-pooey as possible in there, close as much vents as I thought I could get away with, and call it good. If you are really worried, a kitty litter bucket (with lid snapped on tight) filled with hot water from the house will give them something warm to snuggle up against in the coop for at least a good portion of the night.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat, not especially cold right now but about to get a foot or more of snow.
  4. Patoot

    Patoot Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2010
    Well, we decided to just let them be. I refreshed their water which wasn't even all the way frozen yet. They have experienced single digits before, but it's not that often. After that experience, one of them had a couple dots of frost bite on a comb. As in a tiny, tiny dot that looked like someone put a dot of ink from a ball point pen on it. Hopefully that's all that will happen these next couple days (or nothing at all would be great).

    I'm sure they will be okay in the morning, I just worry they will be shivery. We debated about setting up a heater, but at the last minute we were worried about a fire and stuff.

    Thanks guys.

  5. Patoot

    Patoot Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2010
    Now I'm having second thoughts...

    We have a heater that we can prop up and tie so it doesn't fall over, but I don't really have any other good way. Ugh. My poor girls.
  6. johny

    johny Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    NewMexico and you're worried about heat?

    Try Northern Ontario, north of Minnesota where we get -35C (-31F) some nights.
    That's real cold.
    I put on a 175W heat lamp when it goes below -20C (-4F)

    You don't need anything for suplementary heat.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  7. rebbetzin

    rebbetzin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 4, 2008
    Tucson AZ
    Well, we here in the West are not used to such cold temps usually.. so I assume our pets, chickens included, are also not prepared for the cold. Back in November we were still have temps around 100 here.

    I put a 75-100 watt bulb in my chicken coop when it gets below 32 degrees. That will keep it above freezing in the coop.

    They predict 24 to 29 degrees here tonight. And it is windy too. 10 to 20 mph winds.
    I just went out and covered the plants that don't take the frost very well. Hope they stay covered!

    Right now at 9:00pm it is 48 degrees outside.
    The Nat. Weather service says we have a Hard Freeze Warning that doesn't expire until Feb. 4, 2011.

    I know it doesn't compare to the blizzards in the Midwest or in the East or anywhere else having really cold weather plus snow and ice to deal with for the next few weeks.

    We really can't compare to that kind of cold. [​IMG]

    But, when you are used to winter being sunny, in the mid 70's during the day and 50's for a low...

    It is cold for us. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  8. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    You guys in the southwest don't have ANYTHING to worry about. Those chickens have their coveralls on. As long as you don't spray them with a hose and shut them out of their house, No worrys.
  9. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Quote:While it's certainly true that most standard breeds of chickens can acclimate to and manage very cold temperatures without supplemental heat, that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about chickens that are used to cold temps in the 30's or 40's suddenly being plunged overnight into the single digits. That's a completely different situation, in my opinion, especially if the severe cold persists for a couple of days as it has been predicted for our area.

    Sudden, drastic temperature shifts can be deadly, even for wild birds. Last winter, after our February snowstorm (a rare event where we live), we found a dead mourning dove on our back deck. Right now, a small flock of seven or eight doves is huddling on the driveway next to our garage, trying to stay out of the wind. Hope they make it.

    Of course, that's just survival of the fittest. However, I don't really want to take that approach with my flock of chickens especially as in my case I have tiny bantams that are part Serama, a breed not known for cold hardiness.
  10. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Quote:Last winter, before I had a coop big enough to rig up a heater safely inside, I brought my flock into our attached garage and bedded them down in a couple of dog crates with pine shavings as bedding on freezing nights. Then in the morning I moved everyone back outdoors to the run. I could keep an eye on them during the day to make sure they were not in distress because we did have some days where it stayed in the 20's.

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