I'm very confused whether to heat my coop or not, as well as having proper ventilation.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by nikchic, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. nikchic

    nikchic Out Of The Brooder

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    I live in British Columbia, Canada, I have 4 chickens that live in a 6 x 12 insulated coop with an automatic door. ( I know, too big of a coop for only 4 chickens). We planned at first to get 20 chickens but have only 4 as they are from my son's school and are part of our family. I've read tons on here about NOT heating the coop unless its really cold. We've just had the lows of -17 Celcius and it only goes to a high of -14 Celcius (sorry I do not know the conversion to Fahrenheit.). What we have done is put a heat lamp in the coop on a timer to go on at 1am till 7am. What I am worried about is them being able to acclimatize. I'm also concerned about ventilation. I don't understand if you are supposed to seal up all areas for wind how do you also have ventilation? I am very worried we are doing it wrong and I worry till wee hours into the night. Will you please tell me at what temp should I be worried? Thanks so much!!!
     
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  2. americana-lover

    americana-lover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Certain breeds are better in the cold than others. Like silkies are great in the cold, but not naked necks. To me, it sounds like you might not need much ventilation if your coop is that big with only 4 chickens.
     
  3. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    You will hear many opinions for sure.

    I do not ever supply any heat, keep one window on the wall away from the roost at least cracked open at all times, and unless it is exceptionally windy leave the pop door open down to 25 degrees farenheit (it opens into a secure run). Never had frostbite.
     
  4. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Naked Necks are extremely cold hardy ;)

    To the original poster:

    We've been down to -30C with wind chill and we do not heat ever. They are all fine. Yours would be too, but now that you have started heating, you'll have to wean them off slowly. You'll have a problem if the power goes out and they are not used to the cold.
     
  5. RavenWood

    RavenWood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to Backyardchickens nikchic! I'm also a fellow BC'er up in Vanderhoof, BC. Temps sometimes drop down to -35 celcius up here. I don't heat my henhouse. I do have more hens than you do, so they do generate a bit more heat, but your hens will adjust. Heating part time probably makes it harder for them to acclimate to the cold when the heater isn't on so I wouldn't bother with the heat lamp. Choose a relatively warm, sunny day as the day you no longer turn on the lamp. Your coop is insulated too, so that's great! If you are overly concerned with the size of the coop being too large for them, just section part of it off so they have less to 'warm'.

    Make sure they have a nice wide wood roost (not metal) so they can blanket their feet with the feathers, give them nice thick shavings on the floor and if you shake it regularly and add fresh on top, the poop will fall to the bottom and generate it's own heat! I also make sure that the hens have a good feed late in the day so that they have revved their metabolism up before bedtime. Because of our work schedule I feed at night and grain in the morning.

    Ventilation is a must otherwise you build up ammonia and moisture and both are more damaging than cold. Put your vents up high, near the roof since warm moist air rises and can then escape. It's good to have vents on opposite ends. Vents can be as simple as several drilled holes or you can actually cut out a square and buy the vent covers like those used on houses. If you plan to get more chickens, plan the venting according to how many birds your coop can house comfortably.

    I always recommend opening their door daily, not only does it let in fresh air and natural light, it helps circulate and get rid of the moisture and they have the choice to go out if they want to. I will only leave their coop door closed on days below -25 or if it is storming/excessively windy. If you are concerned about frost bite on hens with larger combs/wattles, you can put bag balm, heavy hand lotion or vaseline on very lightly and that will help prevent moisture loss.

    Hope that helps [​IMG]
     
  6. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    I also keep other birds in conjunction within this loft.

    My pigeon egg hatched on Dec 26 or 27 2012. The other one has pipped and should hatch Dec 27 or 28. Things look good so far. If you let your birds acclimatize (ACCLIMATIZE is the key word) you can leave them out in extremely cold temperatures -10F is fairly normal for us in Canada winter months. No heat; no insulation in my loft.

    I did provide a Styrofoam cooler as a nest cover for these Squabs. When the squabs grew to the point where the parents could no longer incubate them.
    Here is a picture of the squabs I took recently.
    I will be removing the cooler in a few more days.



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  7. nikchic

    nikchic Out Of The Brooder

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    What is -10F in Celcius terms? Now that I have had heat in there will I do damage to them if now all of a sudden I take it off the timer? I'm so worried about them. Also, what about when the sun heats their coop to around zero, but it's still -14C outside???? I have no control of that. My neighbors use only scratch and table scraps for feed that is another one of my questions. Is it ok to mix scratch and layer mash half and half?
     
  8. Dash

    Dash Out Of The Brooder

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    Personally I use scratch as a morning treat and as the main diet (currently) is grower, they need the healthy protein.
     
  9. RavenWood

    RavenWood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No - you won't do any damage to them, but as I suggested, try doing it on a warmer day so that they have the ambient temperature of their coop to help them adjust. The fact that the coop warms up is a good thing as it will retain some heat throughout the night and just gradually decrease. The constant warming cooling trend happens on a daily basis, but providing artificial heat which is a constant temperature can make them reliant on it and not as able to cope with the normal temperature fluctuations in their environment.

    Scratch is not a balanced feed. You should be feeding them grower or layer ration as their primary diet with scratch and scraps as supplement or treats.
     
  10. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Nikchic,

    I'm over in Eastern Canada, and our temps are drastic from day to day. Today it is +8 tomorrow it's supposed to be -14C. It's been doing that all winter. I haven't lost a single one.

    http://www.wbuf.noaa.gov/tempfc.htm
    I have this bookmarked. It is a calculator for Celsius to Fahrenheit.

    As for the scratch question, you can, but I wouldn't. They will pick out all the scratch first and not get the recommended nutrition to grow and maintain.
     

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