Keeping the Coop Warm in the Winter

ValerieJ

Enabler
Premium member
Jul 24, 2016
6,025
32,189
1,077
Washington State
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!
I have both heaters and find the Sweeter Heater to be worth the extra dough to me. The chicks loved it.
 

trumpeting_angel

Free Ranging
Feb 6, 2019
1,594
5,828
567
Vermont
...
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.
They will have more days they won’t want to leave their coop this winter in Montana, and they may get pretty tired of each other’s company before spring. If you can weatherproof at least part of the run, they can have a little more space in the daytime. Maybe a “coop within the run?” Some sort of shelter with wind protection.

I am bringing my water in at night until we finish the electric wiring. It works well; they are asleep anyway. It’s a plug-in bucket heater with horizontal nipples. Drinking from those nipples is a challenge. They only get a drop at a time. But it doesn’t add any humidity. Similarly, we made a spill-proof feeder. So I have no qualms about water and food in my coop. They also take up space, so we were focused on that as well in choosing the right feeder and waterer. Our coop space is tight.

For the feeder, I bought these on Amazon - Rent -a-Coop DIY Port Feeder and installed them into a smallish plastic file box, rather than something bigger. Amazon also has a very low profile feeder by Royal Rooster. A waterer, too, though it isn’t heated.

Like you, we are planning a bigger coop! We have more than 4 sq ft per bird, but I couldn’t have fit a big feeder or waterer in it.

Good luck!
 

twendt

Songster
Feb 23, 2019
492
1,309
166
SE Wisconsin
My chickens survived last winter's Polar Vortex of -40"F for 5 days straight. I have an insulated coop, I cover the outside hardware cloth of the run with thick clear vinyl to keep out the wind/snow. I did add a heat lamp in the coop at night when it was -40'F. The heat lamp was on only a few days the entire winter. I used the Premier heat lamp, It's really safe ,if used properly. I think it's what helped my girls survive last year's brutal winter, unscathed.
 
Last edited:

CindyinSD

Free Ranging
Aug 3, 2018
2,245
8,643
722
Black Hills, South Dakota, USA
Keeping your coop warm in cold weather is counterproductive. The birds need the opportunity to acclimatize themselves to winter and a super warm coop compared to the outside temps exposes them to thermal shock if they go outside (which they may not be willing to do.) in VA you just need a place out of the wind. You honestly don’t need to heat or even insulate it.

My girls are in a converted metal tool shed, no insulation except the deeply-bedded floor. I was going to insulate the north wall with hay or straw bales, though I was worried about mice. By time I got around to taking action, the pullets had already proven to me they didn’t need no stinkin’ insulation... despite frequent double-digit, subzero temps overnight and through some days as well, they did just fine.
 

Echilde

Chirping
Mar 17, 2019
88
175
71
Kentucky
I am probably one of the few who uses heat lamps. I have 2 coops, both have a heat lamp. One houses 67 chickens ranging from a few months to 4 years old and is elevated due to terrain. The other houses 7 silkies. I live atop 3 ridges and it gets very windy in addition to the extreme cold. I have found that they are more comfortable with the heat lamp. It adds a few degrees to the large coop and I find the young ones under it every morning plus some of the others. I have it secured to the ceiling which is 6 ft high and it is on the far side away from the roosts so they can't knock it down. In the silkies coop, they need the warmth I believe and they are all under it every night. I know they can survive without it, but they all seem to prefer the heat so that's what they get lol.
 

woodmort

Crowing
9 Years
See if this helps:

I've written this before but I've been keeping chickens for over 30+ years with the only heaters being the galvanized ones under waterers. Until this summer I had a 144 sq ft coop with 2 rooms--8 X 12 and 4 X 12. I've overwintered as many as 30 birds and as few as 10 mostly heavy, small-combed, winter hardy breeds--RIR, BR, NHR and alike plus varies Ameraucana hybrids. Depending on numbers they sort themselves out by room to keep warm. The only frozen combs I've ever seen was one year I kept brown leghorns--I now have the rose-combed variety. Our temperatures can drop into the minus 20's for days at a time and we've gone as long as 2 weeks not getting above +20. The only problem is the laying may drop off and some eggs get frozen if I don't pick them up twice a day. All my feeders and waterers are inside the coop--in the 8 by 12 room--and, while I'll open the pop door every day, if they don't want to go out to free range, I'll shut them in. I have had my 8-gallon waterer freeze about half way up despite sitting on the heaters which means hauling them into the house to thaw. Otherwise no problems. The coop is well ventilated primarily by double hung windows open at the top at the sides and ends of the two rooms.

This summer I added a third, 64 sq ft addition since I went wild by an additional dozen birds last spring. In an attempt to keep the 8 gallon waterer in what is now the smallest middle room from freezing I put in a thermostatic regulated ceramic wall heater behind it. Our temperatures stayed below 25 for 3 days last week and it froze up, so back to a bottom heater. Otherwise the birds did fine except they refused to leave the coop for 5 days--went out today when it went above 40 and most of the 2 inches of snow melted.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
1,583
5,241
377
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
Just offering yet another opinion on this subject from a first year chicken owner. Last winter I decided I would get chickens in the spring. So I started to talk to everyone around where I live about how they house and care for their birds during our Minnesota winters. Everyone told me that you don't need heat in a coop, but you need to keep it dry. But then we got an extremely cold stretch of -35F to -40F for almost 2 weeks long. Lots of people lost birds due to cold at that time. The local farm store sold out it's entire supply of Cozy Coop heaters after that - to people who never used any type of heat before.

So, I bought a Cozy Coop heater for my coop but do not plan on using it unless we hit that -25F or worse temps. I'll probably turn on the Cozy Coop heater about then to see if the birds like it, or not. I also have the food and water in their coop. My coop is big enough that the heated waterer and feeder do not take up much room and don't add much moisture to the air (as far as I can tell to this point). My chickens are not going outside very much now that there is snow on the ground. Many people have told me that I can expect my chickens to spend most of their time inside their coop during the winter months. This is what I am seeing. Some days none of them go outside. I don't worry about it as I know they have access to fresh water and food in the coop.
 

gtaus

Crowing
Mar 29, 2019
1,583
5,241
377
Northern Minnesota
My Coop
My Coop
If it's an open waterer you can bet it's adding moisture.
No doubt an open waterer would be adding to the moisture in the coop. However, I have a relatively large coop for my 10 chickens, adequate ventilation, and so far no signs of moisture build up. If I see any signs of excess moisture, I would add more ventilation before I would consider removing the heated water from the coop. But, as I have said, this will be my first winter with laying hens so I might completely change my mind by spring.
 
Apr 5, 2019
334
573
222
Yellowstone County, Montana
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'.

They must have food and water if confined to coop.
Eating is how they stay warm and they cannot eat/digest without water.
AUTOCAD is an enemy dear friend of mine. I use it often in my line of work. I always start out on graph paper though. There is something so cathartic about putting pen to paper. That and I hate sitting in front of a computer in my free time. I do enough of that at work.

Although, the amount of work required to get the chicken living situation to be at the standards I want has proven expensive and time consuming. I’m tempted to go into early retirement so I can focus on the chickens and work as a freelance consultant to supplement my income...
 

Latest posts

Top Bottom