How to Keep My Chicken Coop Warm During winter?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Mary Coleman, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. Mary Coleman

    Mary Coleman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 22, 2012
    North Eastern Oregon
    So it is now getting a bit chilly outside. I live in north eastern oregon so the current tempurature is about 30 degrees or so at night and 40-55 degrees during the day. By the time actual winter is here about 20 degrees or so. So its not too extreme. Though summer is pretty hot about 90-100. Unfortunately, I was dumb and not thinking when I decided to order several chicks this last august.[​IMG] The group consisted of 3 japanese bantams, 2 sebrights, a turkin, one white d'uccle, a white frizzle, a white silkie, and 4 extra roos. Well over the past 4 days i know only have 1 japanese, a turkin, and (of corse) the 4 extra roosters.[​IMG] I had a heat lamp on them at night, but I guess that wasnt enough [​IMG]. I think another reason they may have gotten too cold is because they were quite young. So how can I keep my coop warmer during the winter months???
  2. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    I doubt they died from the cold at that age if you has a heat light on them
    There's really no need to heat a coop at all for grown (fully feathered) birds.

    There are several more threads going on now about it with lots more info
  3. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    I have been around the sun 63 times.

    It is not my first "Rodeo!"

    Nobody "I know" heats a chicken coop.
    Healthy "cold hearty" chickens die from heat not cold.
    I live in Canada last year was subject to -40º (C or F take your pick) no light or heat in coop NO PROBLEMS. You have to feed heavier during cold snaps with extra corn I find.
    Chickens have been raised on this continent for over a hundred years without heat.
    If you feel you must supply heat to your chickens I suggest keeping your chickens in the house that way you can huddle with your birds when the hydro goes out.

    Chickens will die from cold if not given the chance to acclimatize. Hydro is more apt to go out in an ice storm or blizzard when subject to below 0º temperatures in my opinion.

    How would you supply heat then to your un-acclimatized birds ???

    Diary of last winter cold snap check out the link:

    For along time I used heater tape around a bucket with chicken watering nipples. It worked excellent. However me being me I neglected to change the water as often as I should.

    Last year I switched to white rubber contains the wife found somewhere. The freeze solid every night but the ice just pops out of them in the morning and I replenish them with fresh warm water. They have black ones at the feed store that are similar but large than mine.

    The chickens congregate around them like people having their morning coffee. The only draw back is my yard is pepper with small ice bergs the size of the buckets.

    April looks after that however..

    My Coop is a salvaged 4x8 metal shed here are a few tips and a quick look at my set up.
    My floor are planks with a layer of tin for rodent proofing. On top of the tin I have a piece of vinyl flooring cut one foot longer than the length and width of my coop (roughly). Six inches squares are cut out of the 4 corners of the vinyl flooring. This allows the friction fitted flooring to travel up the walls six inches around the perimeter of my 4x8 salvaged metal coop. Shovel out the heavy stuff into a wheel barrow. Pop out the vinyl flooring hose it off pop it back in.
    Easy Peasy!

    I have used all types of litter for coops.

    I have not tried sand (sand gets good reviews on this site).

    Of all the things I tried to date wood pellets have been the best. (I tried wood pellets as a last resort when pine shavings were not available.) They are super absorbent and swell up and eventually turn to saw dust. The droppings just seem to vanish and turn to dust when it comes in contact with wood pellets .

    Replace my litter and clean my coop every October after I harvest my garden.

    Works for me in my deep litter method.

    I do add to pellets from time to time.

    I have anywhere from 10 to 15 birds housed in my 4x8 coop.

    Through the winter months the pellets froze harder than concrete with -40º temperatures. The poop froze before it could be absorbed by the pellets and there was like a crusty layer of poop in certain areas where they collectively took aim (no smell, messy feet or flies @ -40º). Come April things started to look after themselves.

    POOP BOARDS are the "BEST" addition yet. Handles well over ½ of the poop in my set up keeps ammonia smell in check 3½" below roost excellent for catching eggs laid through the night (roost are in cups for easier removal and cleaning). I recently friction fit a piece of vinyl flooring over my poop makes clean up even easier; Pop out; Scrap; Hose; Pop in.

    Nest boxes
    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new.

    Easy peasy!.




    I house an assortment of birds in this baby barn (¼ inch veneer plywood between birds and elements) no heat no light no problems.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    I would agree, sorry to hear of the loses though. We have some young silkies that are just coming on 7-8wks old and they are doing fine, no heat lamp.. we plummeted down to -6C the other day(21F roughly) and they did fine, we have them in coop built within a small mini barn.

    Forgot to mention, the rest of the silkies(the ones in the Avatar lol) are housed in two separate coops, a bachelor one and then a quad, neither are heated they are 5 to 5.5mths old. My older hens aren't either, Ameraucana not their first winter and they have gotten on just fine too.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
  5. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    Some breeds are hardy in hot/cold weather and others are only best in warm or cooler climates. The heavy breeds are more hardy than some of the exotics. The first 5 to 8 weeks the chicks are best in a brooder where you can control the temperatures and check up on them frequently. A large brooder area will allow you to have warm and cooler areas. When fully feathered, they can go out to the coop. You can pack straw in the coop to help old, fragile or molting birds from the cold. We add a brooder lamp for egg production and doubles as warming spot. Hope this helps!


  6. Mary Coleman

    Mary Coleman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 22, 2012
    North Eastern Oregon
    Thank you guys soooo much! :) so if I bought some new chicks this SPRING and let them mature during the summer, do you think that they should be okay next winter? Should I take away the heat lamp?
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You ordered them in August but how old were they when you lost them and what were the temperatures? I don’t want to make any assumptions here.

    Some of the exotics can be more fragile than “regular” chickens. I also find that chicks hatched from tiny pullet eggs instead of regular-sized eggs are more fragile.

    I don’t know what your coop looks like so it’s hard to be real specific so I’ll be kind of general. A broody hen does not heat the entire universe for her chicks. She provides a warm place for them to go when they need to warm up. So you need to provide a heated area as a safe refuge for them so they can warm up when needed. They will sleep near that warm area so it needs to be big enough that they can all stay warm without piling on top of each other and suffocating each other.

    You have to keep breezes off them. You need some ventilation up high, but down on their level they need dead calm. A breeze can chill them and kill them.

    You need some kind of bedding they can snuggle down in and that will warm up. If they are on wire, they can really cool off. A dirt floor is not horrible but wood shavings or straw is good insulation.

    The food and water needs to be in a reasonably warm area. Mine will wonder off into cooler areas for food and water but don’t make it too extreme. I don’t know what temperature would work best with the exotics you seem to favor. With regular chicks, 50 to 60 degrees seems to work for me.

    I personally have not used one but you might research a “hover” if your coop is very large. That is simply an inverted shallow box about 2” off the floor. Warm air gets trapped under there. I imagine there are details I don’t know about, but they are supposed to work really well.

    People brood chicks in colder temperatures than you have. It is harder and there are more risks in cold temperatures.

    It’s hard to come up with a hard and fast age when they can handle a certain amount of cold. Your exotics may be more delicate than my regular chickens. You need a coop that provides good draft protection. Bedding to nestle down in is a plus. How well they are acclimatized is also important. If they are exposed to cold weather they will father out faster than a chick that is kept in a subtropical climate. A good way to do that is to heat a part of the coop or brooder and let the rest cool off. As long as they have a warm place to go to they will soon be playing all over that brooder and feather out nicely.

    I have moved 5 week old chicks into an unheated grow-out coop when the overnight lows hit the mid 40’s. I’ve had 5-1/2 week olds in that unheated coop when the lows hit the 20’s Fahrenheit. I don’t recommend that to everyone. There are too many variables for a magic age when they are all OK at those temperatures. But they are normally a lot more hardy than many people give them credit.

    Good luck!!!
  8. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Quote: That's all in the OP:

    Quote: Quote:
  9. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    Once birds are fully feathered, they no longer need supplemental heat
    Their chronological age doesn't matter

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