Keeping the Coop Warm in the Winter

Apr 5, 2019
334
573
222
Yellowstone County, Montana
I’ve too have been a big worrywart with wondering how cold my seven chickens will be and if they’ll survive, but the other day we got down to 4F (-21F with windchill) and they hid in the coop all day. The wind was blowing like mad, and I was only home to check on them morning and night, but they huddled on the roosting bars and fluffed themselves up. My EE and Polish were shivering more than the Welsummers, GL Wyandotte, and RIH, but they all seemed ok. No evidence of frost damage.

I don’t put food or water inside their coop because of moisture and rodent concerns, so I tried to get them to come out, but the wind was too much for them. The wind Filled the coop floor with snow because it kept blowing in from the pop door and vents. Just for that bad night, I blocked the worst-offending vents so nothing would get blown in. No matter how I fight it, the wind blows the nearly microscopic snowflakes everywhere. I’ve used tarp, plastic construction sheet wrap, and particle boards to block the wind and create a sheltered run, but the wind wins every time. So far. But I’m not done fighting.

My coop is 4’x6’ (I know it’s small, I’ll rectify it as soon as I can.) and the actual coop space is 3’x5’ with 12 square feet of ventilation above their heads. The coop is too small for the DLM so I am installing a poop board this weekend.

I keep a thermometer/hygrometer in their coop and outside their coop to compare. It is always 2-4F warmer inside than outside, and the humidity is always lower inside than out.

Last winter my coworker’s neighbor had a coop fire and all but one chicken burned alive. That’s a horrible death I wouldn’t wish on any living creature. They used heat lamps but I don’t know how the heat lamp specifically caused the fire.

I plan on adding styrofoam board insulation above their roosting bars for heat retention that can be removed when the weather is nicer. Which in my state won’t be until middle to end of May.
 
Last edited:

Duckfarmer1

Crowing
Jul 23, 2019
1,445
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Kane,Pa
Yeah, my state too. I’ve heard just a few days ago on here that ceramic bulbs work well..the kind you get for lizard aquarium...I might try it. My problem is, my coop is too big. It’s 21’ x10’. And the other for cockerels and pullets is 10’ x 18’. So..that’s hard to heat.we have tons of insulation but I still don’t know..this is my first winter with chickens. I’m keeping the snow brromed off the roofs . We’ll see..let’s hope for the best!
 

Henry&Friends

Songster
May 6, 2018
464
1,057
186
Last winter my coworker’s neighbor had a coop fire and all but one chicken burned alive. That’s a horrible death I wouldn’t wish on any living creature. They used heat lamps but I don’t know how the heat lamp caused the fire.
heat lamps in the coop are a problem because proper placement is difficult. If you hang the lamp up on the ceiling, it might be too high to heat the coop. If you hang it too low, your birds can knock it about. If it breaks and sparks, or falls, it can quickly ignite and burn bedding.

I have a heat lamp in my coop right now, over my chicks. It’s been keeping me nervous— I know my chickens bump into it so I think I’ll take it out this weekend. It keeps the chicks (they’re in a cage in the coop) marginally above freezing (1.6C this morning) but during the day it gets extra warm for them (15C yesterday evening.) The chicks are fully feathered out, so hopefully they’ll be fine... but I’m ranting now.
 

NHMountainMan

Crowing
Premium member
Feb 25, 2019
884
3,288
492
New Hampshire
My Coop
My Coop
I’ve too have been a big worrywart with wondering how cold my seven chickens will be and if they’ll survive, but the other day we got down to 4F (-21F with windchill) and they hid in the coop all day. The wind was blowing like mad, and I was only home to check on them morning and night, but they huddled on the roosting bars and fluffed themselves up. My EE and Polish were shivering more than the Welsummers, GL Wyandotte, and RIH, but they all seemed ok. No evidence of frost damage.

I don’t put food or water inside their coop because of moisture and rodent concerns, so I tried to get them to come out, but the wind was too much for them. The wind Filled the coop floor with snow because it kept blowing in from the pop door and vents. Just for that bad night, I blocked the worst-offending vents so nothing would get blown in. No matter how I fight it, the wind blows the nearly microscopic snowflakes everywhere. I’ve used tarp, plastic construction sheet wrap, and particle boards to block the wind and create a sheltered run, but the wind wins every time. So far. But I’m not done fighting.

My coop is 4’x6’ (I know it’s small, I’ll rectify it as soon as I can.) and the actual coop space is 3’x5’ with 12 square feet of ventilation above their heads. The coop is too small for the DLM so I am installing a poop board this weekend.

I keep a thermometer/hygrometer in their coop and outside their coop to compare. It is always 2-4F warmer inside than outside, and the humidity is always lower inside than out.

Last winter my coworker’s neighbor had a coop fire and all but one chicken burned alive. That’s a horrible death I wouldn’t wish on any living creature. They used heat lamps but I don’t know how the heat lamp caused the fire.

I plan on adding styrofoam board insulation above their roosting bars for heat retention that can be removed when the weather is nicer. Which in my state won’t be until middle to end of May.
I’m choosing not to heat my coop this year. When I was looking into it, I considered the cozy coop heater. With the challenges you’re facing, perhaps this can be a short term solution for you?
https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/cozy-chicken-coop-flat-panel-heater-200w-1225112?cm_mmc=feed-_-GoogleShopping-_-Product-_-1225112&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxsyd0vjs5QIVBOiGCh1ROQ5rEAUYAyABEgLR0vD_BwE
 

ValerieJ

Enabler
Premium member
Jul 24, 2016
5,925
31,463
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Washington State
I have used heating lamps every winter until this one. Last year I did have one break and glass was everywhere. Lucky to not have a fire! This year I have a heat panel which they can choose to roost in front of or not. I'm surprised how many of them choose the coop with no heat plate. If you want a heat source, I highly recommend this. It's great for brooding too, just hang it over them horizontally. Check out the Sweeter Heater for an example of this. It is a pricey brand, but you could do the same thing with the more economical heating plates. You can find several options on Amazon
 
Apr 5, 2019
334
573
222
Yellowstone County, Montana
Yeah, my state too. I’ve heard just a few days ago on here that ceramic bulbs work well..the kind you get for lizard aquarium...I might try it. My problem is, my coop is too big. It’s 21’ x10’. And the other for cockerels and pullets is 10’ x 18’. So..that’s hard to heat.we have tons of insulation but I still don’t know..this is my first winter with chickens. I’m keeping the snow brromed off the roofs . We’ll see..let’s hope for the best!
I would LOVE to have coops that size! I’m sure your chickens will be ok. It sounds like you have enough chickens that can huddle together for warmth when they are in those big buildings?

I have been drawing and redrawing replacement coop plans, and run layout that should be ready to go next spring. However, every time I think I’ve perfected what I want and what the chickens need, I learn something new and revise my plans. I just have to accept I may never be truly happy with my design, but It will be a vast improvement from when I built the first one without knowing anything about chickens (other than needing ample ventilation.)
 

ValerieJ

Enabler
Premium member
Jul 24, 2016
5,925
31,463
1,077
Washington State
I would LOVE to have coops that size! I’m sure your chickens will be ok. It sounds like you have enough chickens that can huddle together for warmth when they are in those big buildings?

I have been drawing and redrawing replacement coop plans, and run layout that should be ready to go next spring. However, every time I think I’ve perfected what I want and what the chickens need, I learn something new and revise my plans. I just have to accept I may never be truly happy with my design, but It will be a vast improvement from when I built the first one without knowing anything about chickens (other than needing ample ventilation.)
I'm doing the same thing this year, and I'll be posting my plans in the coop building forum before building, and then hopefully get the attention of @aart and @jthornton for advice. Since this will be the 3rd coop I've asked DH to build, I want to get it right. Not sure I'd ever talk him into a 4th. After 4 years of chicken life I know my perfect number is 12, but I need a little extra space for the ebb and flow of flock management. So, I share that to encourage you to do the same.
 
Apr 5, 2019
334
573
222
Yellowstone County, Montana
I’m choosing not to heat my coop this year. When I was looking into it, I considered the cozy coop heater. With the challenges you’re facing, perhaps this can be a short term solution for you?
https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/cozy-chicken-coop-flat-panel-heater-200w-1225112?cm_mmc=feed-_-GoogleShopping-_-Product-_-1225112&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxsyd0vjs5QIVBOiGCh1ROQ5rEAUYAyABEgLR0vD_BwE
I have used heating lamps every winter until this one. Last year I did have one break and glass was everywhere. Lucky to not have a fire! This year I have a heat panel which they can choose to roost in front of or not. I'm surprised how many of them choose the coop with no heat plate. If you want a heat source, I highly recommend this. It's great for brooding too, just hang it over them horizontally. Check out the Sweeter Heater for an example of this. It is a pricey brand, but you could do the same thing with the more economical heating plates. You can find several options on Amazon
On 10/26 I bought the Cozy Coop heater and installed it in the coop to try it out. It did feel warm to the touch so I though my bottom-of-the-pecking-order Polish that gets bumped to the lower roosting bar all by herself may want to use it.

Right away I had to go out of town for work so I told my husband “If it gets below 0F with windchill when I’m gone, turn it on just for the night.”

He did, but it wouldn’t turn on. I’m not sure if it’s because the power switch was exposed to the elements and shorted it out? Fortunately I saved the receipt so I will be returning it this weekend.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
71,198
72,287
1,557
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I have been drawing and redrawing replacement coop plans, and run layout that should be ready to go next spring. However, every time I think I’ve perfected what I want and what the chickens need, I learn something new and revise my plans.
Yup, spent the winter before building doing this.
Glad I did, I made a lot of mistakes 'on paper'(well, on cadd),
that would have been infuriating to make 'in lumber'.

I don’t put food or water inside their coop because of moisture and rodent concerns, so I tried to get them to come out, but the wind was too much for them.
They must have food and water if confined to coop.
Eating is how they stay warm and they cannot eat/digest without water.
 

NHMountainMan

Crowing
Premium member
Feb 25, 2019
884
3,288
492
New Hampshire
My Coop
My Coop
On 10/26 I bought the Cozy Coop heater and installed it in the coop to try it out. It did feel warm to the touch so I though my bottom-of-the-pecking-order Polish that gets bumped to the lower roosting bar all by herself may want to use it.

Right away I had to go out of town for work so I told my husband “If it gets below 0F with windchill when I’m gone, turn it on just for the night.”

He did, but it wouldn’t turn on. I’m not sure if it’s because the power switch was exposed to the elements and shorted it out? Fortunately I saved the receipt so I will be returning it this weekend.
I hadn’t heard of the sweeter heater that @ValerieJ recommended. It’s reviews are far superior to the cozy coop. I’ll keep that in mind for my flock next year, if I’m not happy with my coop’s performance this winter.

good luck with your coop design!
 
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