Need Cold Weather Advise...Keeping my Girls Cozy This Winter

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NacientNeedle, Sep 5, 2014.

  1. NacientNeedle

    NacientNeedle Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2014
    my coop use to be the kids play house and now that fall is just around the corner, I have started thinking about how I am going to winterize the structure. The window openings have not real windows that can be closed so I will have to start with that, but should I put insulation between the wall studs and put up interior walls to keep drafts and the cold at bay? I know they are suppose to be cold tolerant, but I just can't imagine my girlie will be able to withstand single digit temps!! Can I put a heating pad under them? How do I keep their water from freezing? If I use a heat lamp or two, or three...will the light being on all night mess with their internal clocks and laying routine. Will they even lay in the winter time? When Can I expect them to molt and is there anything special I need to do when they start to molt?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Heating a coop is pretty well frowned upon here. For one thing, if there is a ower outage, they will be acclimated to something that willl suddenly sto, which can be worse than just being cold. Remembe, they have their own "fur coats." Mostly they need protection from frostbite (good ventilation) and freedom from a draft blowing on their roost. A vent high in the coop above them will not give thema drafe as the air will just excange right there at the vent.

    About all you can do to keep water liquid is use something like a heated dog water bowl, or a homemade cookie tin heater.

    Here are a couple of clasic articles about Canadian coos:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/winter-coop-temperatures
     
  3. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I agree totally with Judy and she gave you some excellent links. Moisture in the air and drafts directly on them are the enemies - not the cold. I read recently on here (and I wish I could remember who said it so I could credit it properly - forgive me) to think of a car in the winter. When you put people in that car one of the first things that happens is that the windows fog up and water runs down them.....that's humidity from breathing and our warmer body heat in the colder air of the car. When you crack the windows the warm moist air is vented out.

    I live in Northern Wyoming, not far from Yellowstone Park. Up here we know winters, and I was all for insulating my coop, blocking many of the vents, securing the pop door, and covering all of the windows to keep them warm. I could have killed them with kindness. As the moisture level from their breathing, their waste, and higher body temperature rose, they would have been at greater risk of frostbite. The buildup of ammonia in a heavily insulated coop is bad for them too and respiratory illnesses would have been a real problem for them. Fortunately smarter folks than me, who have raised chickens without heat and without insulation successfully for years, were able to explain that to me. I won't even be putting my waterer into the coop during the winter - it will stay outside in their run with a heater either in or under it. Water adds another level of humidity that I don't want in my coop. I am also covering my outside run with clear greenhouse plastic to keep the run drier in the snow and encourage them to get out of the coop and into the fresh air and sunshine. They already have down jackets.

    I have one picture to show you that might ease your mind. This was taken just a couple of days after my 5.5 week old chicks left the house to live in out in their new coop. The coop wasn't even finished - it needed paint, more ventilation, and the run to be built. There was no heat lamp out there, either. This is what I woke up to. They are all still hale and hardy, lots of eggs, and they have thrived. Didn't lose a single chicken.

    [​IMG]

    Yep, April in Wyoming. I hope you feel a little more confident that your girls will be fine if you provide plenty of ventilation (not wind blowing directly in on them, though) and don't rely on electricity (which goes out regularly during winter.)
     
  4. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

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    We don't get too many single digit temps in my area but last winter was an exception. At 5 degrees my girls didn't show any sign of problems with it. We added a clear plastic wind block to the back side to block prevailing winds . Saved cut outs for windows and leave up year round and adjust for weather - storms, cold - down.. heat, high up. Here's pictures showing the shutters:


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Some people frame clear acrylic and do the same thing, this was quicker and cheaper.
    The biggest problem was water freezing. We have to leave ours in run, made a bulb heater to sit it on, but any day with temps below high 20's, it still froze and we had to check frequently to keep water drinkable.

    We had sleet and snow and they loved investigating the new stuff.
     

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