Heating the coop


9 Years
Oct 4, 2010
I live in rochester, NY. Winters here get VERY cold . Often the temperature will not reach freezing for weeks @ a time. Some old school farmers say that a light bulb will be fine. I beg to differ. I have looked at radiant wall heaters..... not sure what to do. I am installing a light on a timer to give the ladies (3 of them) adequate day-light, but I don't want them to freeze. Nights are getting into the low 40's already. Not sure what to do! HELP!

Most chickens do absolutely fine in freezing temps anywhere even far north and into canada...

The most important things you need to is to make sure the coop is insulated, no drafts but ventilated...Flat boards for roosts such as 1X4s or 2X4s flat instead of smaller or rounded roost boards/poles...this is to reduce risk of frost bite to toes... Thick layer of clean bedding on the ground and closing coop door at night to reduce drafts from the door.

You really shouldn't need a heat source UNLESS its for young chicks. Since you only have 3 hens I'm expecting you have a small coop? If so and if feasible a good cheap way to better insulate it is find large cardboard boxes and tack/staple them to the inner walls and recaulk all edges/corners of the interior to help block off unwanted drafts. Its dipping into the 40s here already as well at the moment and I just finished insulating and fixing up my 2 smallish coops for winter - covering up the summer windows and stapling cardboard on the inside of the simpler coop that definately needed the extra help - lol.

Lamps inside the coop can be dangerous as they can be knocked down and cause a fire which obviously will result in the loss of your birds...Same can go for other heat sources, the risk of fire or of overheating a small area especially an enclosed one at night...I have heard of folks installing the radiant heaters in their coops without a thermostat regulating the temps and coming outside in the AM to find their birds dead from practically being roasted alive inside a small coop with no escape.

Good luck on keeping the girls happy and healthy through the winter.
Do you have breeds of chickens that are known to be sensitive to the cold, such as Seramas?

If you have standard size chickens, you can begin to relax. Chickens come with down insulation and are actually very well able to adapt to bitter cold temperatures just as long as they have dry, draft free but well ventilated housing. They really don't need to have supplemental heating if you provide housing that meets these requirements. You will need to figure out how to provide them with liquid water at all times during the winter so you might want to look into getting a heated waterer. That will save you the trouble of trudging out to the coop repeatedly with fresh water to replace frozen.

There are things that you can do to make winter more comfortable for your chickens, though. Here's an excellent reference from someone who lives even a bit north of you:


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