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Newbie here, I need cold weather advice

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by RaineyVC, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. RaineyVC

    RaineyVC Hatching

    Oct 17, 2012
    Hello. We live in Northern Nevada at 6200 feet. Winter can get down to around 10 degrees with occasional snow. We have a small cedar coop (ordered off of Amazon for around $275) and two chickens we adopted from our local feed store. We are new to this. We have hay on top of the soil ground for flooring and hay inside of the nestsAt night the chickens are closed into the top of the coop where they have a roosting area and a nesting box that is separated into two boxes with a partition. Can you advise us on how to keep the coop warmer? How would I go about insulating their sleeping area? And perhaps even their open area? At night right now it gets down to about 53. We bought a heat lamp but it sends the temperature soaring. Any advice would be wonderful.

  2. Spangled

    Spangled Songster

    Jan 12, 2012
    Serenity Valley
    Without seeing what the coop looks like, it's difficult to answer your questions. What's the name/title that Amazon gives the coop you bought?

    If there were enough room, I personally might get another couple of chickens since the chickens themselves will heat up a space very well ... depending on the size of the space.

    A ceramic heater for reptiles might be something to look into. I'm personally uncomfortable with lights for heating chickens because in the long run it can mess up their circadian clocks, causing issues like mis-timed molts, etc., even if their eyes are closed, though no everyone would agree with me. A ceramic heater placed out of reach will only supply heat.

    I don't heat our chickens' house because they heat it up very well themselves, however, the size of space the chickens are in is a big variable. It's all guesswork as there are no perfect formulas or hard and fast rules for # of chickens, size of coop, exterior temperature, humidity, ventilation.

    Keeping them dry and out of the wind is what helps them to stay warm. So wind breaks for their chicken run will help them conserve energy during the day when they are out and about.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    :frow Welcome to the forum! :frow Glad you joined us! :frow

    I'm sorry you wasted the money on the heat lamp. It's not necessary. Chickens wear a down coat all year long. They can handle cold much better than they can handle heat.

    I'm not familiar with that specific coop. There may be something you need to do to help them through the winter, but adding heat is not what is needed. I've seen chickens sleep outside in trees in zero degrees Fahrenheit weather. They find an area protected from the worst of the wind, hunch down, and sleep. They might tuck their head under a wing to keep it warm, but they do fine.

    Your danger is not them getting cold and freezing to death. Your danger is frostbite, especially to the comb and wattles. Breeds with the smaller pea, walnut, or rose combs are not in that much danger from frostbite. The ones with the big floppy single combs are in the most danger and even most of them can handle weather colder than you have. Even the warmer-weather Mediterranean breeds should not have any real problems with your weather.

    There are two things they need. They need to be out of the direct wind. Wind chill factor is a real phenomenon. A gentle light breeze is not a huge problem but it's best to try to keep them out of a direct wind. The other thing they need is plenty of ventilation. Moisture build-up from their breathing and their poop can help cause frostbite. There have been plenty of posts on this forum where people have solved frostbite problems by adding more ventilation to get rid of moisture build-up.

    How do you provide ventilation and draft protection both? Have the ventilation above their heads when they are sleeping. A breeze moving over their heads is not going to cause a wind chill to hurt them yet it will remove the moisture. It will also get rid of any ammonia from their poop that might try to build up.

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