How cold is too cold?

Guisso14

In the Brooder
Sep 23, 2018
29
34
39
I live in Canada and obviously it is winter now. The temperatures can get pretty cold at night and I'm really just wondering how cold is too cold for the chickens in their coop? When should I be using a heat lamp? I have been using one up to now but I'm thinking of not using it anymore as they are about 5 to 6 months old now. Just looking for any advice. Their coop is fully sealed up besides their door and a little vent and their run is covered mostly in plastic so they aren't affected by wind that much.

Also the bird seed in the pic is just as a treat.

Thanks in advance!
 

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rosemarysugar

Songster
Mar 1, 2018
474
585
191
Meeker, Colorado
Chickens are being kept successfully in Canada at temperatures below -20 degrees . Don't use a heat lamp they are good for chicks in the brooder but really bad for coops they can start fire VERY EASLY . I use this safe but affective alternative
https://www.mypetchicken.com/catalog/Chicken-Supplies/Cozy-Coop-Heater-ships-free-p2406.aspx.
But as for the cold, my chickens do pretty well during the day and night with temps that can get to 20- ( but it doesn't usually get that low) and our coop isn't insulated. For there sake only use heat when it get 19 or lower, or they will start to depend on the heat to stay warm. All you can do is put Vaseline on there combs and wattles ( to prevent frost bite and help stay warm) give them a little scratch during the day ( which also helps them stay warm ) and at night make sure nobody is alone on a roost.:)
 

WindingRoad

Songster
Nov 21, 2018
1,017
1,972
213
Maine
I live in Maine. I had my birds outside at -9F one morning eating breakfast. Them, not me, at that temp. My birds have done fine at -20F a couple of nights. The thing is to keep the wind off them. I have my run totally covered with a clear tarp. I think you should have more ventilation. If you see moisture on your walls or ceiling in the coop that means you need more ventilation. Moisture is what causes frostbite. Their exhalations are what builds up moisture along with their poops. Although at -20F poops don't emit much for very long. KWIM. My coop is prefab and not isolated. I have a good layer of pine shaving on the floor. My birds sleep in the nest boxes because they mostly lay overnight. That way they don't have to move during the night. Yes they poop in the nest boxes. I clean the poop out in the morning. Much easier in the winter because it's usually frozen. I make sure their crops are full at bedtime; that helps them stay warm at night. Someone posted a pic here of her chickens with their heads tucked under their wings. To keep their combs warm. I check combs every morning. Cool but not cold. No frostbite yet.
So in the morning check the walls and ceiling for moisture that is your's and your chickens enemy in the cold. If you see or feel moisture you need more ventilation. High up; warm air rises. Good luck.
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
3,472
17,642
762
British Columbia, Canada
Welcome to BYC!!! :welcome Very pretty chickens you have there!

Where in Canada are you? “Pretty cold at night” is a fairly vague description. For me in southern B.C. Anything around 2 to 4 Celsius is “pretty cold”. There are places that “pretty cold” is -20 C (northern B.C. And Alberta, I’m looking at you!) and it’s “really cold” when it gets below that... either way that is way too d**n cold for me!

I’m a little worried by all the extension cords it looks like are heading into your coop/run there. Please be very, very careful with them. Chickens have lived without much extra heating for centuries, yours look fully feathered and ready to wean off the heating for sure! Unless you’re in northern Alberta or Quebec... then bring those poor little babies into the house! Nothing deserves THAT kind of weather! ;)
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,392
7,283
536
western South Dakota
Do not worry about keeping your chickens warm. worry about keeping them dry. Dry chickens are warm chickens. Their feathers keep them warm. Just like at a football game, your own winter coat keeps you warm, not your neighbors. Not adding a heat lamp that will only slightly warm a very limited area, unless it catches the whole coop on fire, a real possibility.

Small coops are much more inclined to get damp, and they tend to not have enough ventilation. Think of sitting in a car at night with other people. Almost immediately the car fogs up. That is what happens when the coop is too tight, and those chickens are cold damp chickens. They need deep bedding, and the roost needs to be positioned so that the birds are away from the ceiling and walls. And there needs to be fresh air coming in and exiting the coop.

As counter intuitive as it sounds, the way to keep chickens warm, is to provide them shelter from the wind and as open a coop as you can get it. That keeps them dry, and dry chickens are warm chickens.

Mrs K
 

Guisso14

In the Brooder
Sep 23, 2018
29
34
39
I have a fairly large vent at the top of the coop and my run is mostly covered in. I have unlimited access to woodchips so I keep it topped up for them. Havent had any problems with frost yet. The only night it got really cold I left the heat lamp on. Basically it seems if its lower than -15 c it might be a good idea to have the lamp on. r
I live in Maine. I had my birds outside at -9F one morning eating breakfast. Them, not me, at that temp. My birds have done fine at -20F a couple of nights. The thing is to keep the wind off them. I have my run totally covered with a clear tarp. I think you should have more ventilation. If you see moisture on your walls or ceiling in the coop that means you need more ventilation. Moisture is what causes frostbite. Their exhalations are what builds up moisture along with their poops. Although at -20F poops don't emit much for very long. KWIM. My coop is prefab and not isolated. I have a good layer of pine shaving on the floor. My birds sleep in the nest boxes because they mostly lay overnight. That way they don't have to move during the night. Yes they poop in the nest boxes. I clean the poop out in the morning. Much easier in the winter because it's usually frozen. I make sure their crops are full at bedtime; that helps them stay warm at night. Someone posted a pic here of her chickens with their heads tucked under their wings. To keep their combs warm. I check combs every morning. Cool but not cold. No frostbite yet.
So in the morning check the walls and ceiling for moisture that is your's and your chickens enemy in the cold. If you see or feel moisture you need more ventilation. High up; warm air rises. Good luck.
 

Guisso14

In the Brooder
Sep 23, 2018
29
34
39
Welcome to BYC!!! :welcome Very pretty chickens you have there!

Where in Canada are you? “Pretty cold at night” is a fairly vague description. For me in southern B.C. Anything around 2 to 4 Celsius is “pretty cold”. There are places that “pretty cold” is -20 C (northern B.C. And Alberta, I’m looking at you!) and it’s “really cold” when it gets below that... either way that is way too d**n cold for me!

I’m a little worried by all the extension cords it looks like are heading into your coop/run there. Please be very, very careful with them. Chickens have lived without much extra heating for centuries, yours look fully feathered and ready to wean off the heating for sure! Unless you’re in northern Alberta or Quebec... then bring those poor little babies into the house! Nothing deserves THAT kind of weather! ;)
I'm in nova scotia. Only one cord goes in the coop. The other is for a water warming tray in the run. It can get below -20 here on some of our colder nights but havent seen that yet
 

Guisso14

In the Brooder
Sep 23, 2018
29
34
39
Do not worry about keeping your chickens warm. worry about keeping them dry. Dry chickens are warm chickens. Their feathers keep them warm. Just like at a football game, your own winter coat keeps you warm, not your neighbors. Not adding a heat lamp that will only slightly warm a very limited area, unless it catches the whole coop on fire, a real possibility.

Small coops are much more inclined to get damp, and they tend to not have enough ventilation. Think of sitting in a car at night with other people. Almost immediately the car fogs up. That is what happens when the coop is too tight, and those chickens are cold damp chickens. They need deep bedding, and the roost needs to be positioned so that the birds are away from the ceiling and walls. And there needs to be fresh air coming in and exiting the coop.

As counter intuitive as it sounds, the way to keep chickens warm, is to provide them shelter from the wind and as open a coop as you can get it. That keeps them dry, and dry chickens are warm chickens.

Mrs K
The coop has a big upper vent and I keep the chicken door open as it's completely wired up from predators. The wind is blocked by plastic covering the run and I have not seen frost inside the coop yet so I'm guessing things are going good so far. Thanks for all the advice
 

WindingRoad

Songster
Nov 21, 2018
1,017
1,972
213
Maine
I have a fairly large vent at the top of the coop and my run is mostly covered in. I have unlimited access to woodchips so I keep it topped up for them. Havent had any problems with frost yet. The only night it got really cold I left the heat lamp on. Basically it seems if its lower than -15 c it might be a good idea to have the lamp on. r
#1 what happens when you lose power. Your birds will have become dependent on that.We've lost power for over 12 hours around here.
#2 Heat lamps are a good source for fires. Please be careful of them and the best way to do that is to get rid of them. Have you seen crows in the winter, or chick-a-dees? How do you suppose they survive? Chickens are basically wild birds.
BTW I see wild bird food in one of your pictures. Is that what you are feeding your chickens?
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
3,472
17,642
762
British Columbia, Canada
BTW I see wild bird food in one of your pictures. Is that what you are feeding your chickens?
He did mention that the seed in the picture was just a treat, not the primary feed.

Nova Scotia can get some pretty mean winds, so draft free is what I’d be focusing on too! My Family is from Newfoundland’s east coast, so I know the climate challenges you’re looking at, let’s both be glad we’re not in Northrern Alberta, eh? With the costal humidity and potentially cold temps I’d also be concerned about keeping the ventilation up, backwards though it seems, to keep the coop as dry as possible.

What kind of chickens are they? And how many do you have total? They are very pretty .

So long as you don’t have any really cold temps coming in soon, and your coop is as protected as it sounds/looks like, they should be fine without the heat. Pick a nice warmish night and pull the plug! I’m quite biased against coop heating/electrical in most cases... just me and I don’t have a ton of experience either so take my opinion as mostly just that.

Do make sure with your cords that you’re using a large enough guage wire that is rated for outside use, as short as you can reasonably go, and that you’re plugging it into a GFCI outlet! Yeah, I’m a bit paranoid.
 

WindingRoad

Songster
Nov 21, 2018
1,017
1,972
213
Maine
He did mention that the seed in the picture was just a treat, not the primary feed.

Nova Scotia can get some pretty mean winds, so draft free is what I’d be focusing on too! My Family is from Newfoundland’s east coast, so I know the climate challenges you’re looking at, let’s both be glad we’re not in Northrern Alberta, eh? With the costal humidity and potentially cold temps I’d also be concerned about keeping the ventilation up, backwards though it seems, to keep the coop as dry as possible.

What kind of chickens are they? And how many do you have total? They are very pretty .

So long as you don’t have any really cold temps coming in soon, and your coop is as protected as it sounds/looks like, they should be fine without the heat. Pick a nice warmish night and pull the plug! I’m quite biased against coop heating/electrical in most cases... just me and I don’t have a ton of experience either so take my opinion as mostly just that.

Do make sure with your cords that you’re using a large enough guage wire that is rated for outside use, as short as you can reasonably go, and that you’re plugging it into a GFCI outlet! Yeah, I’m a bit paranoid.
Also one of those arc whatevers I can't think of what they are called. That is one of the things that bugs me here in Maine. I'm about 100 miles from the coast in West Central Maine mountainous. Many times when I check the temp outside and it's in the teens the humidity could be 86%. outside! So I do have to watch for ventilation. They other day my ceiling and walls had condensation on them during the day. I had both coop doors open air things out. I stayed outside for about an hour. I don't trust anyone or anything around my birds with open doors. They can and will fly out but sometimes they wait for me to put them back in. I don't want them to get ambushed. But the coop dried out and I was able to close it up. Out door humidity was high.
 

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