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How warm do I need to keep my flock....... Help or advice please..

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by JeanGenie, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. JeanGenie

    JeanGenie In the Brooder

    May 30, 2009
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi all

    Bit late but "HAPPY NEW YEAR" to all....

    I am from the other side of the pond in the UK. We are having what can only be one of the coldest winters for many years with daytime temps barely reaching the great high's of 0 degree's Celcius... and nights around the minus 10 mark.... Plus loads of snow....

    My flock are young, in fact this is the first winter for them all. My worry is that although they are inside from early evening in the respective coop's it gets bloomin cold fast. I have regularly cleaned them out with fresh sawdust, hay, straw. I have even boarded all the windows up on the inside to keep some of the extreme frost away from them. The nest boxes I have raised slightly so they are a little further from the ground. My main worry is how cold does it have to get to put my babies at risk from possible death. I dont want to open the coop's in the morning and find them froze to death. I have been given a heat lamp which I have hung high inside the main coop and want so badly to switch it on but will I make matters worse by them getting all snuggly and warm and when they venture outside the coop the cold will affect them. I have got a thermostat that I purchased last summer for my home made incubator and was wondering I could always connect the heat lamp to it and set it to a temp then the heat lamp would switch on and off. But what tempreature would I need to set it at.

    So I suppose thats my question does anyone out there have any thoughts on this. Would I do more harm than good, amd I worrying to much. I only have Pekin Chickens, which are a small breed anyway. They are climb into one nest box with there resepective cockerals and he spreads his wings over them. I have even thought of hanging hot water bottles around the inside of there coop's so at least a little warmer air is moving around.

    As you can guess I am reasonably new to poultry keeping and am still on that massive learning curve. Can anyone please advise me...

    Many thanks from a bloomin cold UK....


  2. wildorchid053

    wildorchid053 Songster

    May 12, 2009
    syracuse area, ny
    i felt sorry for mine so turned the heat lamp on when we hit the single digits.. we are farenheit though.. we are also buried in about 4' of snow.. when it is 30f i think 0? for you we have no heat on. they are fine with that.
  3. HEChicken

    HEChicken Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I am in Wichita, KS, USA and we are also having a mighty cold winter this year (worse than I can remember for several years). Our temps are actually colder than yours, as for days now we have not had temps even approaching 0 celcius! Our high for the last few days has been below freezing and at nights it drops 10-15 Fahrenheit from the daytime high so....I know why you are worried. I don't have bantams and have no experience with them either so hopefully someone else can chime in and advise you about them specifically. However from my experience with full-sized birds, so far they have not had any problems with the cold. This is one time where a smaller coop is really an advantage. I only have 7 birds, but I have an A-frame coop with a footprint of 4x4 that is also 4' tall. In other words, there is about 32 cubic feet of air. The body heat of 7 birds in 32 cubic feet of air is able to keep the temperature above freezing (water does not freeze overnight). I have not added supplemental heat EXCEPT that I made a cookie tin heater. It currently has only a 13w bulb in it and helps the birds keep the temperature up enough for the water to not freeze.

    On the hot water bottles, my fear would be that they would cool so quickly that they wouldn't be of much use. I love my own hot water bottle but even filling it with boiling water and keeping it against my body covered in a blanket, its not good for more than a couple of hours, so hanging in cold air, I doubt if it would put off enough heat to be worth the effort.
  4. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Songster

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    I cant tell you what to do but I can tell you what I have done!
    We have had snow since before Christmas. Our temps will be getting down into negative numbers later this week!
    I put a thermometer in the coop at roost level so I can tell just how cold it is where they sleep!
    I put 2 by 4's sideways for roosting on so they can lay their feet flat and sit on them with their feathers protecting from frostbite.
    I am currently using vaseline twice a day on their combs and wattles to prevent frostbite.
    My Husband has secured a heat lamp with a red warming light bulb to keep them a little warmer!
    Just make sure it is secure and at least two feet from all combustible material!
    Be safe and happy chicken keeping from across the pond!
  5. thetajmahalcoop

    thetajmahalcoop Songster

    Jan 2, 2010
    nunda ny
    I have three heat lamps about 2-3 feet of the ground in my coop right now because its sooooo cold. the younger ones and my peacock have been sleeping under them and the older ones roost way up high in the coop and theyre fine! Good luck! Theres alot of great threads on this topic right now on BYC as we are all experiencing bitter cold in the northern US right now.
  6. annie3001

    annie3001 My Girls

    Jun 11, 2009
    its cold where i am........ ct.......i have been leaving my 250 watt red heat lamp on all the time!
    its my first winter with my hens,, i want them comfortable. when i come home from work (in the morning about 11am) i let them out into their covered run,, the heat lamp just stays on for them, they can come and go as they please... but i want them to have some fresh outside time!
    good luck. [​IMG]
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    How young are your birds? 0C doesn't sound that cold to many folks on here, but if your little chickens aren't use to it, it can be hard. I would think the smaller breeds would be less cold hardy? As far as worrying about not giving them a little heat because they'll have problems adjusting to the cold outside...I haven't seen it with my girls. I open the doors every day to let them out (this is their first winter too, and they're @ 16 weeks) if they choose to go. They generally go out for short periods at a time, will go back in the coop to warm up, and then outside for a little more exercise/pecking about. I keep it above freezing in my coop with heat lamps. I use a small W bulb on some nights, but have broken out the 250W for the past two nights when we dropped into the single digits F.
    If you have a heat lamp and you're worried about them, try a small wattage heat bulb above a certain area of their roost or something. That way if they want the heat, they can move to that area, but you're not trying to "heat" the coop. Don't rely on a clamp, secure your lamp with wire at least 18" away from bedding, etc. Good luck to you and your little chickens!

  8. JeanGenie

    JeanGenie In the Brooder

    May 30, 2009
    Birmingham, UK

    Thanks for all the good advice. Sorry we in th UK work on the celcius table and I have just checked the temp in the two coop's and they are reading -2 which I think is around the 25 degrees F... And its just after lunch time here.

    I think I will set the thermostat at round the 5 degrees C and let the heat lamp do the rest. Mind you just checked the bulb and its a 250W cattle heat lamp so that should be powerful enough for them.

    My chickens are what we call Pekins over here, not sure what you may call them over in the USA. They are a small breed and they were all bred by me last spring and summer, so at best they are no more than 8 months old. They seem happy enough except my Lavender cockeral "Reggie", he is a little lathargic and not his usual full feathered jumping fella. He normally flies at you of a morning when you open the coop but lately he just doesnt seem to move around much. He has also not crowed for a few days.

    Then the main coop with my other cockeral "Ronnie" is full of life, bouncing around and crowing like Pavarotti each morning. I know before you say it, to us brits when the names Ronnie & Reggie are said we all think of the gangland bosses from the 1960's The Krays. This is due to they want to fight me all the time but not my wife. They must feel threatened or protecting there girls is important.

    Anyways, I am amazed at all this cold weather around the world, and if anyone says GLOBAL WARMING then I will scream at them...lololol Hope all your flocks survive and bring us continued joy in the new spring when it finally arrives.....

    Thanks all, and happy new year from a now more relaxed Brit...

  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Your Pekins are what we call Cochins on this side.

    To get a perspective

    0 C = 32 F

    -10 C = 14F

    Chickens have a down coat. They handle cold better than heat. I don't have Pekins/Cochins but yours are thickly feathered. My chickens play outside in the very low teens F as long as they are not in the wind and do not get frostbite. If it is windy, they stay inside out of the wind or get in the protected corner in the run.

    Your danger is not that they will freeze to death but that they might get frostbite, primarily when they are roosting. They can get frostbite anytime the temperature gets below freezing, but mine don't when the temperature gets into the single digits F here. Whether they are in danger of frostbite depends on several things, but mainly draft and humidity. If they are roosting in a draft, you need to fix that. End of story!!!

    Humidity is a bit more complicated. Chickens and their poop gives off humidity. If you have adequate ventilation, this humidity is taken away and you don't have the problems. How do you have ventilation without drafts, you ask. Good question. Have the openings for ventilation higher than they are roosting. Don't have anything open below their roost while they are roosting.

    Teach1rusl has a great point. As long as yours are feathered out you should not have a problem, but if they are still very young, they could have.

    I'll give you two links to documents Pat wrote. She is the resident expert on this forum concerning cold weather and ventilation. In my opinion, you can depend on her for this topic.

    Pat’s Winter Coop Temperatures

    Pat’s Ventilation

    I'll also point out that electricity sometimes fails. I firmly believe in having coops that do not require outside heating sources to allow the chickens to do well if at all possible. In truly cold climates that may not be possible, but in climates like yours and mine, it should be.
  10. JeanGenie

    JeanGenie In the Brooder

    May 30, 2009
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Ridgerunner..

    Many thanks for those two links they were most informative. Having read what a proffesional does it has made me realise that I was worrying a little to much. Both my coop's are well ventilated. One is a 10 X 10 shed that I have half engaged as my indoor coop. The other half is mine for storage of bits and pieces. The chickens have Plenty of room, considering there are 3 hens and Ronnie the cockeral. I do leave the door to the shed open most days and the coop hatch is also open. So the air can pass through. The wooden floor on the coop side I have slabbed, mainly for protection. The walls are wired inside again for protection from predators and then boarded out from top to bottem. The windows are there just wired over.

    In the second smaller coop I also have 3 hens and Reggie. This was a former childs wooden playhouse I converted to a coop last summer. They have a main front door that I open during the morning and then close in the evening. Again its wired inside and boarded over. The fllor is raised wood and sealed around the edges.

    In both coops the runs are slabbed and sealed. I have built soem portable runs which get placed upon our grass and the chickens run sort of freely there. I have to take extra measures as we are surround by neighbours cats..!!!!.

    Reading the links I see that the main problem is ventilation to allow any damp air to be removed. Though we are not as cold as some who have replied as my chickens are still very young I just wanted to ensure they survive this, which is our coldest spell for many years. I have checked the weather reports online and there is no end in site. In fact we are forcast lows of minus 6 C and more snow tonight and tomorrow.

    I will keep an eye on them for a couple of nights and see how they are reacting and if I think from what I now know will decide then. I have setup the heatlamps and all I need to do is flick a switch in the kitchen and heat will arise for them all.

    Just wanted to say thanks and its great that we can ask for help and advice on a brilliant site.

    Many thanks


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