Heating coop & bedding ideas needed


8 Years
Apr 6, 2011
I know the bedding question can be a hot topic so I appologize for bringing it up if it causes controversy. I normally use pine shavings in my coop and have loved it. It composts easy and never has an odor. My chickens keep dumping out their food and then they scratch out all of their bedding to find the food. I have used hay & pine shavings and they dont last more than 1 day, they throw it all out into the run. I have been considering using sand but is it too cold on their feet with it being winter and pretty cold here? Can they toss it out into the run like the other 2? Im really concerned about them kicking the bedding out because sometimes they get poop on the plastic pull out floor we use and if their food gets in it and they eat it they can get sick. I cant afford to add bedding several times a day though to keep some in there and many times when it gets into the run it gets very wet and is unusable. I guess I should also ask about feeders, are there any that are spill proof to keep them from dumping it?

For the heating issues. We have a 4x4 coop that is about 5 feet tall, it has a roost & poop board but they never use the roost. I normally scrape the poop board every day, lately (the last month) it has been every other day. Im almost 7 months pregnant so it is getting a little tough. Their coop is uninsulated, but I have put plastic sheeting and what little reflective insulation I had left, over the windows and openings but it just isn't enough. We had temps below freezing for a couple of days so I put the girls into our garage in a very large dog crate. It was less than comfortable for them but it was the only way to keep them warm, I kept a heater going out there to keep temps above 40* lows at night were 22* and with wind chill it was about 12* out there. How can I add heat to the coop to keep them warm so they wont have to stay in the garage, without worrying about starting a fire? I thought about putting a small heater in the coop but Im afraid it will catch fire
I have been considering building a coop for the garage so they have more space than that dog crate, to use for when it is too cold for their outdoor coop or when we have hurricanes/tropical storms. The only reason Im hesitating is because Im pregnant and hubby is not due home from deployment for a few more weeks. I have asked him and he says just do what I can until he gets home and he will fix it all when he gets home. Im just afraid it will get really cold again and the girls will be cooped up in the dog crate again, it just isn't big enough for them to be in there all day
I found the coop on your page and see why they kick the bedding out. I made a suggestion to address that on your other post...simple tack (from the inside) a 4 inch wide board across the bottom of the doorway to retain your bedding. It'll make the doorway opening smaller, but they can still get in and out.
I wouldn't build another coop inside for VA winters. If their coop is draft free, then they'll be okay in the temps you mentioned (wind chill doesn't matter if the coop is draft free). If you still want to add heat, and you have an outdoor rated extension cord, you could run a small lamp, heating pad, or flat panel heater (google them if unsure) out in your existing coop. Of course appropriate safety measure are critical.
Is there a way you can hang your feeder with a chain from the ceiling so food doesn't get knocked over??? Or set it up on blocks/bricks securely (chest level) so they can only eat, but not spoon/bill??
Im sure I can put the feeder up on a block. I have tried a bunch of different feeders & the one they seem to like best is a regular old loaf pan. It is the only one they can all use at once and wont peck at each other, but it is very easily spilled. I had 2 feeders hanging outside in the run but they were spending so much time in the coop that I moved their food in there. Thank you for the door suggestion, I will definitely do that. I found a worm in their poop and I was afraid at first it was because they get poop on the floor and then dump their food. I feel like their feet must be cold though with no bedding on the floor. Im headed out now to pick up some plastic sheeting for the run, pine shavings for the floor, a board for the door and some dewormer for all of the pets. Thank you so much, I appreciate the help more than you know
I don't see why you are so worried about the chickens being cold. I have the same weather as you, and I'm telling you that they will be OK. Look at my coop below. The front of it is open year round. No insulation, no heat added, And the birds are thriving in it. Don't cram your birds into a dogcrate, leave them outside in their house, you, and the birds will be better off. And DON'T block off the windows in the coop, remember, VENTILATION.
You don't need heat as long as the air is kept dry (low/no humidity) and draft free. Most chickens (and especially northern breeds) will do just fine down to 0 F (or even lower) if you have those two points taken care of. Consider that wild birds (e.g. pheasants -- which aren't much different than chickens) manage pretty well, even w/ a lot less food. If your chickens have plenty of food, they will eat enough to provide the extra energy they need to keep warm.
I dont think I will be adding heat but I will make sure that there is no drafty areas in and aroud the coop. I have a digital thermometer in the coop that tells me the temp & humidity so I use that as a way to judge how bad it is in there. I didnt know they could make it in such cold temps, I was afraid that by leaving them out there I was being cruel but I guess it is much worse to put them in the crate (largest on the market). It is a huge crate but there is no run so it couldn't be comfortable for them. I did add the piece of wood to the door area and it seems to be keeping the pine shavings in...and the chickens out LoL! They are terrified of it, it is so funny to watch them look at it and then run away. I chased 2 in hoping the rest would follow but they did not. I placed the others in and they would run back out as if the demon protecting the dor chased them out. 1 had to be put in 3 times before she decided to just stay inside. Im sure they will be better about it tomorrow, but it was funny as heck watching them wish I had a video of it. Thank you for the advice, I appreciate it
Just watch out for the humidity the chickens produce themselves -- they emit a surprising amount of mositure, and if you keep them in a tightly closed up coop or structure, the air will get very humid and they will have a much harder time keeping warm. You want good ventilation (equals dry air), but no drafts. If you keep them out of the wind and air dry, their feathers and food will do the rest.

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