How do I keep my chickens warm?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chickenraiser24, Sep 22, 2015.

  1. chickenraiser24

    chickenraiser24 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 15, 2015
    So, winter will be coming in a few months, and it's already getting cold here. These are the first chickens I've ever had ( they are about 20-23 weeks old). How should I keep them warm? (Sorry if I posted this in the wrong spot; I'm still new to this)
  2. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2015
    You're in the right spot. I heat my coop with an electric space heater that is placed inside a cupboard so the birds can get at it. It is the kind that automatically shuts off should there be a power surg. Some breeds are cold hardy and extra heat is note needed as long as the coop is insulated well. You might want to spend some time researching on whether or not you need to have an extra heat source.
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I'm in the NEK of Vermont, 30 min. drive to Canada, climate zone 3. I don't use heat at all. The prevailing wind corner or two sides of run are warped with a tarp to provide a wind break. If the run gets icy then a thin layer of mulch hay gets thrown down. If the run is not covered then it gets shoveled after snow storms. Food and water are kept outside. You need a heated dog bowl or base heater for the metal water fountains or some other means to keep water from freezing.

    Chickens do very well in the cold, all they need is a wind break and well ventilated coop to prevent frostbite. Good ventilation moves the moisture out of coop which prevents frostbite. On the 4 to 6 mornings each winter that is -30F the birds will stay in coop until it warms up to -10F. The pop door is opened as usual and I just toss a few handfuls of sunflower seeds to hold them over until they come out.
  4. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2015
    Not all breeds do well with cold; those with modified feathering or lack of feathering, breeds that were produced in warm climates, those with large combs and wattles. My seramas can not take cold.

    What kind of chickens are they?
  5. Spartan22

    Spartan22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2014
    North Canton, Ohio
    Also depends on how big is your coop, how it is insulated and the ventilation situation. Making sure they are out of direct cold wind and keeping them dry. I have read, so many people against heating their coop due to fire hazards and not allowing the chicken for acclamation to weather. In saying that, I opted to insulate my 10X12 coop and also installed an emergency wall panel heater just in case. Which last winter was one of the most brutal in our area. I had the heater on a timer during those few days of -20s it kept the coop @20 deg and above, water kept on liquid form and non had leg/comb frost bite.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Here’s how I responded in your other duplicate thread just in case you didn’t see it.

    You don’t keep them warm. You allow them to keep themselves warm. What do you do to keep the wild birds warm in your winter?

    I’ve seen chicken sleep in trees in below zero Fahrenheit weather. One trusted forum member told a story about chickens going feral in northern Michigan and surviving the winter in the open, even foraging for themselves and probably eating now for water. I won’t say they thrived in that Michigan winter but they survived. With a bit of help they can thrive. Those chickens were not roosting on a bare tree limb overlooking a cliff, squawking defiantly in the teeth of a blizzard. Like the wild birds they found protected places out of the wind but with great ventilation.

    Chickens keep themselves warm by trapping tiny air pockets in their down and feathers. Their body heat warms these tiny air pockets and that provides insulation for them. If a wind strong enough to ruffle their feathers hits them and releases those air pockets, they can get cold. So provide them a place to sleep where the wind doesn’t hit them directly.

    You want gentle air movement though. You need to remove the ammonia and excess moisture from the coop. Ammonia comes from their poop decomposing and can be hard on their respiratory system. Moisture comes from poop and their breathing and can lead to frostbite if the temperature is below freezing.

    You need good ventilation but you don’t want to have a strong breeze hitting them. There are many ways to do this but easiest way to me is to have openings high over their head when they are the roosts. Ammonia is lighter than air so it will rise. The air is generally warmer in the coop than outside so even on a perfectly calm day there is air movement up. If the wind is blowing outside, and strong breeze will be over their heads but will create a tiny bit of turbulence to suck the bad air out of the coop.

    With decent breeze protection and good ventilation, your only concern in the winter should be keeping the water thawed.
    1 person likes this.
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    In Wisconsin, no extra heat, I keep bantam frizzles.
    1 person likes this.
  8. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2015
    Also Wisconsin. With heat I get eggs and chicks year around. Without heat they would survive with the right protection, but I want my birds to thrive. I have tried both ways and I will stick with heat. To each his/her own.
    1 person likes this.
  9. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    In MN - No heat, standard sized chickens, I put light on them if I want them to lay throughout the winter. Good protection, water, food, well-ventilated coops and they thrive. If one has froo-froo chickens that won't withstand the cold, some extra heat may be necessary, but for good, cold hardy birds, it's unnecessary.
    1 person likes this.
  10. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2015
    I guess mine are froo-froo. I like them; guess that's all that counts.

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