Heating in the coop Qs

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,248
18,680
817
Western Ohio
This is our first winter with chickens. We have an elevated (2.5' above ground) coop, behind a taller/ wider barn that shields the coop from the winter winds from the west. All eaves are open for ventilation (covered in HWC), as well as both sides of the upper part of the coop (which can be covered), and a window that can be opened or closed. So, ventilation on all sides of the coop. We are getting electric installed inside the coop soon. Since I've lived in this region, it has gotten as low as -17F at night before....with some stretches of time never getting above 4F as daytime highs. Of course, it could get colder than that, but would not be the norm.

We are getting a lower outlet for keeping water above freezing. Outlet should be high enough to be out of pecking range. Then another outlet near the ceiling to plug in a secured heat lamp if we choose to do so. There will be a light connected to a timer so that there will be light for the daytime...not sure if we are going to give them light to keep them laying such as 14 hours a day, but it can be pretty overcast at times, so figured a light on a set timer was the way to go. Additionally, there will be an electric connection near the ceiling and next to a roof overhang, for a future electric fence, if we choose to add that. We will have an exterior light too, but that will be on a switch and for the primary purpose of not tripping and injuring ourselves if we have to go out there in the dark.

So, thoughts on heat lamps? I know a potential fire hazard if they fall, but we would secure it above the ladder roost with chain. Also, plan to plug it into a thermostat to turn on only when temp falls below 10F, for example. Other heat options?

Anything we are missing or should consider? Electric will be installed in a week or two.
 

jthornton

Free Ranging
Aug 30, 2017
4,178
7,966
512
Poplar Bluff, MO
My Coop
My Coop
If you have adult cold hardy breeds and draft free ventilation they will be fine. Heat lamps have a very narrow area and if improperly used can start a fire (usually when used with the wrong fixture).

For water an immersion type of heater works better than a floating type in a water bucket. The trick is to keep the nipples from freezing. I use vertical nipples with a second bucket bottom and insulation between, works for sure down to 0°F in an open area.

JT
 

path.otto

Songster
Jul 10, 2017
222
468
172
Mason City, IA
Our coop is 8' x 13' and I have eight chickens. I have a flat panel heater mounted on the wall behind the roost and I have strung bed sheets cut to fit as curtains that I close on the coldest nights around the roost. The chickens have no problem figuring their way out in the morning. We went from the 50s to low single digits practically overnight. I have cold hardy breeds but one of them is going through a hard molt and I feel very sorry for her. I keep water on a heated base in the run with their food. This up and down temperature swing that we have been having for the past two years has to be hard on the girls but they have survived. It gets below zero frequently here but so far these accommodations that I have made seem to work fine. I have noticed a lot of raptors paying particular attention to the run so I think their days of freedom are over for now.
 

wamtazlady

Crowing
7 Years
Jul 18, 2013
1,695
2,073
306
Kalispell MT
Every year people tell newbies to keeping chickens to not use a heat lamp in a coop. Every year we have several people write in because they have lost all or most of their chickens to a fire caused by a heat lamp. It has gotten down to -22 F here. Chickens are out in their run all day no matter how cold it is and no heat lamp. The first year pullets lay all winter. The older girls take a break in winter but will be laying end of January or in February with no added heat.

I use a water system similar to jthornton. The difference is that I use horizontal nipples. Horizontal nipples are less likely to freeze than vertical nipples. Being in Northern Montana I do not want to have to battle frozen water. The water is kept outside because that is where the birds are all day. So far my water hasn't frozen even on the coldest of days.
 

path.otto

Songster
Jul 10, 2017
222
468
172
Mason City, IA
A friend lost all of her pigeons due to a heat lamp malfunction (and her well-house which was next to the pigeon loft). The flat panel heaters raise the temps just a few degrees and I have it set for on at 0, off at 10 degrees. If we hadn't been caught out with frigid weather so early I generally wouldn't even be using it until January. The coop is well built and draft-free with plenty of ventilation.

I think the problem we humans make is trying to equate our comfort level in the cold with the chickens comfort level and our ability to stay warm with theirs. It couldn't be more different!
 

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