Heating small tractor coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Hennigm4, Nov 19, 2016.

  1. Hennigm4

    Hennigm4 New Egg

    Nov 14, 2016
    I have a small tractor coop, plan on having 3 hens and a rooster. Do not want to use a light for heat source. What is recommended? I have seen hanging heaters , mats etc. What do you think would work best? Im in Virginia, Northern. We typically have temps in the 20s or so during winter.
  2. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada

    I am subject to -40º weather l live in Canada think North Pole. I have been keeping chickens and birds for decades.

    Your best practice I find is to not be too concerned about winterizing or heating your coop to help your birds combat the cold.

    Predator proofing "ABSOLUTELY".

    Your efforts should be spent in winterizing your birds and letting them acclimatize to their surroundings.
    This is done by feeding them whole corn as an added supplement in a separate feeder.

    The extra nourishment is more then adequate to bring them through the
    "COLDEST" winter.

    Do keep an eye open for birds that maybe not be adapting well to the new menu and may be at the lower end of the pecking order they can sometimes run into problems and may need extra TLC.

    That being said in a perfect world the flock will flourish and do just fine .

    I do not add any extra heat or lighting.
    Egg production does slack off but I have more than enough eggs for the table all winter long (24 hens).

    Some people may disagree with my method but it has worked well for me and I am not about to change.

    I look at it in the same light as winterizing your car.

    You really do


    have to winterize your car if you can keep it in a controlled environment at all times otherwise you are in for

    "MAJOR" problems.

    When it comes to lighting if you find you are short on eggs it does apparently help. I personally do not bother in my operation eggs are sold only to neighbours when they are available (if the sign is out I have eggs). Eggs in my operation have a tendency to crack and freeze during the winter months (we do not discard them and are fine but use them in house not for sale) the more eggs you produce during these months the more eggs will fall into this category.

    I have roughly 24 Golden Comet hens the longest I ever been out of eggs can be measured in hours >12<24. You will find that the egg supply in any hen is a finite resource the quicker you milk the eggs out of a hen the faster it will be spent and end up in your stew pot.

    On average one hen produces somewhere between 600 to 700 eggs in its life time. Lighting only effect the speed of delivery of the eggs which at the end of the day would amount to less than a year in the hens life is my guess

    If you do decide extra lighting is necessary have your light on a timer to lengthen the day "MAKE SURE IT IS SECURED BY 2 MEANS OF SUPPORT" one being a "SAFETY CHAIN" in case one fails especially if it is an incandescent bulb or heat lamp.

    I personally raise hens as a hobby; and for their manure to enrich my vegetable garden any thing else the hens provide is merely a bonus.

    Here is one BONUS NOW not many people can enjoy seeing in their back yard on a regular basis.


    Nest boxes
    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new. Feed bags are a nylon mesh bag.
    Frozen poop just peels off in below freezing temperatures and just flakes off in summer when left out in the sun to bake and dry.

    I have 65 trips around the sun it is the best method I have stumbled upon.

    Make sure the twine is removed from the open end of the bag it can get tangled around your birds.


    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Hokum has pretty much got it covered. (One stop all-you-need-to-know!)

    With winter temperatures that are as mild as yours, you don't need to worry about heating your coop at all. Your chickens will fire up their individual "heaters" by consuming fuel in the form of calories, a similar conversion of energy as burning gas or wood for heat. As long as you supply the calories, your chickens can take care of heating themselves.

    More important, if your climate is humid, and yes, winter can be very humid, ventilation is crucial to prevent frostbite, not heat, which can make it even more humid and the danger of frostbite worse.

    So forget about heating the coop. Not necessary!
    1 person likes this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Could you give us some information on that tractor coop, size of any coop section and any run section, and height. A photo or two could help, one inside and one outside. Tell us about your ventilation, where is it and how big is it so with the size of your coop we can look at it. And where are your roosts?

    In Northern Virginia you will probably see temperatures a bit more extreme than mine. Mine seldom get much below single digits below zero Fahrenheit and that is only a few times a year. I do not heat the coop at all and just don’t have problems. As long as they are healthy they can handle cold temperatures as well as the birds that overwinter where you are. I don’t feed mine anything special in the cold snaps either, the chicken feed I have already has a lot of corn in it. They burn all kinds of calories to stay warm anyway, not just corn calories. There are always other contributing factors with anything, like general health, but you have two key issues, ventilation and breeze protection.

    You need good ventilation to exchange good air for bad. Mainly you are worried about getting moisture out of the coop. Moisture is a huge contributor to frostbite. Dry air is good, wet air is bad. For most of us moisture comes from their breathing, wet poop, and waterers that are not frozen. I saw moist of us because Hokum doesn’t have to worry that much about wet poop. Where he is the poop freezes in the fall and doesn’t thaw until spring. Frozen poop is not wet poop. Spring when it thaws can be fun, I’ve lived and worked in that type of climate. But where you are wet poop can be a contributor.

    The other thing you need to avoid is a breeze hitting them. Part of that is wind chill, made worse by wet air, but the big part is that they keep warm by trapping tiny air pockets in their down and feathers. Those air pockets provide the insulation that keeps them warm. If a breeze hits them hard enough to ruffle their feathers and let that trapped air escape they can get cold.

    That’s why I’d like to see what your tractor coop looks like and where the ventilation is. With smaller coops especially it’s possible to build them so any breeze just blasts right through like a wind tunnel. If it is too tight so the moisture cannot escape then they are more prone to frostbite.

    Your goal should not be to keep them warm, your goal should be to keep them dry and out of breezes so they can keep themselves warm.

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