How cold before you need a heat lamp?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by NarleevilleClucks, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. NarleevilleClucks

    NarleevilleClucks Out Of The Brooder

    May 27, 2009
    Linthicum, Maryland
    I'm in Maryland and it's getting chilly here. We haven't had frost or anything, but last night was frigid in my bedroom and I kept thinking about the chooks. I'm not the kind to install an elevator or cable in the coop, but I don't want them to freeze either. Any advice?
  2. HarlansHollowFarms

    HarlansHollowFarms bana-bhuidseach anns gára

    Jan 16, 2009
    How old are your chickens?
  3. Uzuri

    Uzuri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    Now take my words with a bit of a grain of salt, because I have yet to overwinter chickens, but I have overwintered rabbits.

    If the chickens are in a decently tight, draft-less area, they're going to keep it quite warm themselves. 3 rabbits in a 3' x 5' x 6' lean-to, tarped over on the open side keep the inside temperature above freezing (as proven by the water bottles that stay open all winter) even in the coldest weather we get in Ohio.

    If you want to find out for sure yourself, I'd toss a thermometer in there one night when you know you'll have a chance (and the energy) to go out to the coop right before dawn and check the temperature. Maybe put one outside the coop, too, to compare.

    We had a couple nights in the low 40s about two weeks ago (yeah, in August. Nuts, eh?) and I didn't even worry about the chooks. They looked happier than I did when I came to let them out, actually. :p
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2009
  4. TipsyDog

    TipsyDog Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2009
    Aregua, Paraguay
    Provided your chicks are fully feathered:

    Careful you don't put the heat on unless needed. They need to acclimate to the changing temperatures. If you protect them from a 45 degree night, what will they do when day time temps are 25? Like any animal, they will adjust through the autumn evenings and become "used" to the cooler days and nights.

    Just keep them draft free and I wouldn't give any heat this time of year.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    There are some long, good existing threads on this that you'll want to check out.

    Summary: most reasonably cold hardy breeds, well-managed (meaning, most importantly, in dry draft-free air, meaning, GOOD VENTILATION well-located in your coop), are good well down towards 0 F and often quite a bit lower.

    A lot of frostbite seems to result from people shutting down ventilation in an effort to keep chickens warmer, with the result that the temperature in the coop is a *little* warmer but it also gets real humid and humidity+anythingbelowfreezing=frostbite.

    You might want to take a look at my ventilation page (link in my .sig below). Other than that, it is never a bad idea to have electricity available so you *can* run a bulb for heat if you should *need* to, but in Maryland, you would have to be doing something wrong, or very unlucky (e.g. chickens get sick of something else during a cold snap), or have very non coldhardy breeds, to actually *need* a lamp.

    Good luck, have fun,

  6. NarleevilleClucks

    NarleevilleClucks Out Of The Brooder

    May 27, 2009
    Linthicum, Maryland
    Thanks for the replies! I didn't think they'd need any heat in Md. but who knows? I'm new and didn't want to assume anything - unless others were assuming with me! My chix are 22 weeks and fully feathered. I am going to block the windows with plexi glass and put in some bails of hay to lessen the area, it's a 4x8 coop with a run under the floor, and only 4 hens. I thought about getting more hens to keep each other warm but I'm scarred introducing them - so many horror stories on here! I thought I'd try to get my first flock through the winter and add in the spring. Good idea?
  7. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Quote:Just make sure you've still got enough ventilation, ok? You don't want moisture building up in your coop, because this makes frostbite more likely, as described above.

    Take a look at your roosts and think about air flow in your coop, too. Your chickens should have to roost in an area subject to drafts.
  8. Equus5O

    Equus5O Chillin' With My Peeps

    My husband keeps bringing up the idea of a heat lamp for the winter. He says that our neighbor has a 500 watt bulb in his coop. I think 500 watts is way too high. I really don't think we'll even need a heat source inside the coop. I'm considering installing a flap type of thing-a-ma-jig over the chicken door, to keep that draft out during the day, but that's it.
  9. Uzuri

    Uzuri Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009

    Tell him they'd be better cooked with the feathers off.
  10. Equus5O

    Equus5O Chillin' With My Peeps


    Tell him they'd be better cooked with the feathers off.

    LOL That's what I'm sayin'!

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