How Cold is TOO cold????


7 Years
Oct 2, 2012
Gunnison CO
I live in Gunnison CO and it gets really cold here at winter. We have at least 2-3 weeks of Subzero weather (-20 to -30F) at least for the nighttime lows. I have 18 Rhode Islands right now- however 8 are roos and will not make it over the winter (they will be sold or eaten) So assuming I have 10 hens in a 4x5x5 non insulated coop and I have a heated I need a heat lamp? My other variable is they are only 3 weeks now...that puts them 3 months old by Christmas. We will also probably have 18 chicks when then are still 3 months old. We have a theramacube that can turn on a heat lamp on at 20F and off at 30F. Is this necessary? What are thoughts and opinions on super cold temps. I picked RIR because they are hearty in cold weather. Any advice is wonderful as this is my first time with Chickens.
I (personally) do not like the idea of heat lamps and this is why:{A7326D97-EA89-497F-A5F3-8ABCD26C937C}&DE={2CF1197D-EF2A-458D-BF21-8AF97E1DE004}

A coop doesn't have to be "insulated" but it does have to be well sealed and draft free, with proper ventilation that doesn't cause drafts (air in, air up, air out). You can go around your coop and make sure all the nooks and crannies (between boards, etc) are sealed and are not causing air to get in where it shouldn't.

If you do that, and if all of your chickens are in otherwise good health they should be just fine in that coop without a lamp...even with -20 & -30 weather. What they cannot have is wetness and you might want to water-bucket test your coop roof to make sure there are no leaks (you don't want snow and sleet getting through there, onto your birds).

Also, you can give your chickens a warm layer mash in the mornings for breakfast and in the evenings before turn-in. It keeps them warmer for extended period of time. Don't keep it on a warmer throughout the day because it encourages bacterial growth.

(I think your chicks will be just fine as long as you don't put them out there too early). As long as they are fully feathered, including their heads they're fine. 8-12 weeks is recommended for colder climates.

The only thing I would be concerned with is the fact that you have RIRs (big combs and wattles) so frostbite may be a factor.

- I'd keep Vaseline on hand just in case. It won't prevent frostbite but it will dissuade them from scratching at it and others from pecking at it.

- You can put marbles, golfballs in their waterer or narrow down the 'beak entry' (surface area of accessible water) in their waterer as well. This will help prevent them from dipping their wattles in the water..freezing and causing frostbite too.
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Chicken's can withstand very cold temps, but only as long as the coop is very dry!! In a well sealed coop their breathing and droppings are enough to cause frostbite very easily. I found out the hard way. I have a chicken tractor and covered the pen and coop with a tarp so that it kept the snow out and most of the wind.the pop door was left open all the time for air but not drafty. They still got some frostbite from the moisture. I ended up putting in a light to shine on the roost area. I had no issues with it. I now have a camper that I gutted for a coop this year. and left the roof vents and stove vents in it for ventilation. Will be using sweet pdz too to help with drying out their droppings fast.
My thinking is that what kills chooks is heat - not cold

But -20 to -30 is very bad so I would take the advice about vaseline and a heat lamp will be a good idea too

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