Heating the hen house in the winter

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by fiddlehawk, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. fiddlehawk

    fiddlehawk Hatching

    Nov 11, 2009
    northern VT
    Hello all - total newbie here. We have just 4 chickens, about 6 months old now (no eggs yet), and I'm starting to wonder about heating our hen house. We live in zone 3/4 and while the late fall has been fairly mild, it is going down to the teens tonight and winter will be with us till late March. I know I need to insulate the water to keep it from freezing but what about a heat lamp for the hen house? If so, how many hours should this be on and can anyone recommend a certain type? The chickens are Buff Orpingtons and supposedly fairly hardy for our climate. I'd greatly appreciate any adivce. Thanks!

  2. darkmatter

    darkmatter Songster

    Jul 10, 2009
    Quote:I live in the Midwest and don't heat my Coop, the chickens do fine. I do close the windows, I do have ventilation under the eaves. I use one of those rubber tubs for water which I can knock the ice out of and refill once a day with water if needed. There are pictures of my coop on my BYC page.
  3. Chickiemom1012

    Chickiemom1012 Chirping

    Apr 21, 2009
    I am not sure what your budget is but I purchased an infared heater from www.sweeterheater.com I am in Green Bay, WI and it get pretty cold here. I also bought a thermostatic outlet to plug the heater into so it maintains 45 degrees. They have several sizes and can be side mounted or hung from the ceiling.

    I am a little obsessive with my girls so you msy be looking for a cheaper option, but I am worried about a heat lamp with fire issues.... There is also a lengthly post out here about all sorts of winterizing info. I would just do a search for winterizing coops and I am sure you can find it. This is my first winter too. Good luck!!!! I am not sure if you have a run for your chickens also but I covered mine in 8mil plastic from Fleet Farm and it looks like it is going to work awesome to give them a space to hang out in for the winter.

  4. fiberart57

    fiberart57 Songster

    May 31, 2009
    Most of the advice I've heard from here is that heating is not necessary as long as there is adequate ventilation (see patandchickens big 'ole ventilation page) and they don't have drafts. Drafts happen when there is an opening where the chickens are roosting; for example a window that may blow cold air on them. Ventilation happens above the chickens and doesn't count as a draft. They must have good ventilation to expell the moisture they produce. This is what is deadly to them; moisture and cold.

    I live in Colorado and insulated my hen house with R-13 fiberglass insulation between the walls. We had an episode where it got to 27 degrees and when I went out in the morning to let them out, the inside of the house was warmer; the water dish barely had ice in it. The girls were fine. I have ventilation at the top of all four walls but have a shortish raised coop and will close off the north vent in extreme cold (below 20 degree) as per recomendation. I have a Buff Orp and she's fluffy and stays warm. You're correct about them being a good cold weather bird.

    Go to patandchickens page on the Coop Building thread, and cruise the thread, and you will learn lots and lots. Good luck and welcome to Backyard Chickens. This is a wonderful learning and social site.


  5. willheveland

    willheveland Songster

    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    Quote:I think they'd stay healthier without putting heat in their building. Will
  6. Bookworm chick

    Bookworm chick Songster

    May 27, 2009
    Salem County, NJ
    Quote:I'm going to get one of the rubber tubs (the smaller size because mine are bantams) for the water for the winter. Do you ever have a problem with the chickens getting bedding or poop in the rubber tubs? I have my current waterer set on paver stones about shoulder (the chickens shoulders) height and it seems okay with maybe an occasional feather getting in it.
    I don't have electricity to the coop and no plans to run any. Our coop is a converted garden equipment shed and although it isn't insulated, the ventilation is up high, way above where the chickens roost and no drafts.
    Many, many years ago we had a fire on Christmas eve that was caused by a heat lamp (don't know what actually happened) and a half dozen mother pigs and their litters burned to death.

    I went to your BYC page, darkmatter and like your coop and run. We plan to enlarge our run next year, but have to cover the top with wire as well because those darned bantams are great fliers and fast too. Wish my chickens liked tomatoes because I like the idea of planting one (caged) in the run sounds great.
  7. jerseygirl1

    jerseygirl1 Crowing 9 Years

    Jun 20, 2009
    Orange County, NY
    I don't know about the rubber tubs, mine seem to get all kinds of shavings in their waterers - I put them on cinder blocks and have no problems. No heat in m y coop, they have feathers!!

  8. Plain Old Dee

    Plain Old Dee Songster

    Oct 30, 2009
    Seminole, OK
    We've never heated our henhouse. I would hesitate to heat it and turn the girls out for the day - it seems to me that the temperature change would not be good for them. Then again, here in Oklahoma, it really doesn't get too cold for chickens anyway...
  9. CityChook

    CityChook Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    First, [​IMG] from the Twin Cities -

    There are lots of cold weather folks here on the BYC and a lot of information over at the coop forum as well as on this forum. You can always use the search function (in the blue bar above) to find certain information.

    There are probably as many different opinions regarding heating as there are different members. You will really have to decide for yourself what you want to do. I strongly encourage you do to a little searching and reading. The sooner the better as this unseasonable weather surely won't last much longer! [​IMG]

    I have heard that rubber water bowls will freeze slower than metal ones, but in our climate you are going to NEED a heated water dish unless you want to be out at the coop 3-4 times a day with fresh water. I found mine at Fleet Farm for $25ish. But you will need electricity to run it.

    More important than heat is making sure that your coop is well ventilated and draft free. These factors are extremely important. I highly recommend doing some searching and learning.

    I personally have chosen to heat my coop. I also have 4 BOs. Yes, they are quite hardy and tough chickens, but -25F is still -25F and it will get that cold over the season. I provide heat via a ceramic heat emitter (bought it on ebay) that is hard wired to the wall. Simple red heat bulbs (around $5) can be purchased at any hardware store. You may already have one from their brooder? It is vital that you use a lamp fixture with a ceramic socket as both of these heat sources will get very hot. Anyways, the red bulb would also work for heating the coop, but MUST be secured as they are a fire risk. I think that the majority of BYCers who heat their coops use this source.

    I leave my heat on 24/7 when the temperatures drop below freezing. Before that, I only turn it on at night. My waterer is already plugged in for the season. Even with the heat, the average coop temp is around 10F inside the coop, so not the Bahamas by any measure. I don't want to waste money heating the entire coop interior, so the ceramic bulb works as warm resting spot (it's mounted over the roost).

    Feel free to check out my winter page:

    And this link may also be of interest:

    Again, welcome to BYC!


  10. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Many people seem to like the heated water bowls for keeping the water drinkable. You didn't mention whether your coop is insulated?? There is a device called a Thermocube (I bought one, but haven't tried it yet, but others say they work fine) that would turn your heat lamp on and off based on a temperature range. My girls are really young, so I have the one that will turn on just above 32 degress for this winter. But they offer them at lower settings as well, I think on at 20, off at 30(F), and another lower than that... That may be an option for you to consider if you want a little warmth, but not a drastic change from outdoor temps... They cost around $15 or so...

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by