1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    Not a member yet? join BYC here & then introduce yourself in our community forum here.

not sure about heat in winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Chicken Lil, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. Chicken Lil

    Chicken Lil Songster

    Nov 14, 2008

    This is our first winter with chickens, and I'm not sure if I need to heat the hen house.

    We live in Northern Illinois with lots of snow wind and subzero temps. The hen house is draft free, insulated, and has a regular light that I use all day. We have covered the coop in a heavy clear plastic to block wind, rain and snow. Run and hen house are all dry and on south side of house, so well protected from wind.

    What I have read is that if you heat the hen house they could die from a chill when they go out. But husband is concerned that they will freeze when it gets too cold.

    Any advice from others in the cold north would be appreciated.

    Chicken Lil
  2. The Farmers Wife

    The Farmers Wife Songster

    Nov 8, 2008
    NW Arkansas
    I personally would replace your regular bulbs with heat lamps when the temps are extremely cold~.....and shut the door/hatch to their house at night...........letting them back out in the morning when the sun comes up~........we do that here in Arkansas and you are MUCH colder there~
  3. antlers

    antlers Songster

    Jun 20, 2008
    East Cent Minnesota
    Lots of talk about that here lately. I cna tell you though from experience of 42 withers of having chickens on the farm in Central Minnesota, that you only need enough heat to keep the water thawed and the eggs from freezing. If you keep the coop dry and draft free but with some ventilation to elimonate the amonia build up, the birds will be fine. ANY animal likes relatively constant temps . Meaning 20 below will not harm them it they get acclimated to it. wide swings though will tend to cause pnemonia and other problems. They will produce heaver feathers and be insulated. Worry abou twater and ventilation and eggs not the temp.
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I agree with antlers. Sounds like you've made great preparations for winter. The way I see it if you get the chickens used to a warm coop and the power goes out, your chickens would be unequipped to handle the change in temp. Best to let them acclimate naturally.
  5. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    It can get pretty cold in Michigan, where I am. Neither of my coops is insulated, and my birds do just fine. I do have electricity running to the coops, so I use a heated waterer during winter. They will sit close to each other on the roost for warmth. I do shut them in at around 5 p.m., and typically open their pophole door around 8 a.m. unless it's below zero.
  6. ChickenTender63

    ChickenTender63 Songster

    Sep 28, 2008
    Alamance, NC
    Pat from Canada can probly give you some good info on this issue. I am now in the south and didn't have chickens when I was in Iowa, so I can't give you a good answer, but can understand your situation.

    I think it gets as cold as the north pole in that area. Hopefully Pat will see this thread in a bit and lead you in the right direction.

    Good luck, and stay warm!
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Ha, I am actually in the 'banana belt' of Canada, relatively speaking -- it only gets down to like -20 F ish here most years [​IMG] -- and more to the point my own chickens are in a building that just doesn't get that cold for structural reasons (it is large, slab floor, 6" insulated walls, insulated ceiling, and this year I am hoping it will also benefit from some passive solar from my plastic-wrapping the small front run). So I am not the person to ask about really cold temperatures.

    But we do have members here from Alaska, northern Alberta, northern Minnesota, etc. Against which, Illinois is *nuthin'* [​IMG]

    The short form is basically this, as I see it:

    Do you need to heat your coop? No, and probably shouldn't try to IMHO (the downsides being your electric bill, profligate waste of energy, fire hazard, and potential problems for chickens when heat fails e.g. during a power outage).

    Do you need to sometimes provide a small pool of supplemental heat, e.g. a lamp (not necessarily a heat lamp) above the roost on exceptionally cold nights? Few *need* to but some may sometimes *want* to, depending on what kind of chickens you have and how your coop behaves and your personal tastes and so forth.

    Would it be reasonable to think ahead to how you might want to arrange such a 'small warm pool of light' type area, if you decide you want to use it? Sure, if you want. Always better to prepare than to be scrambling if you decide one evening that boy howdy it is going to be too too cold.

    On the whole, though, I think you're best off with a non drafty but well ventilated (adjusted according to weather) coop, possibly insulation (lets you have more ventilation), and a max-min thermometer hung near the roost so that you can keep an eye on the REAL coop temperature, and on the chickens' behavior and health, and make sensible management decisions based on what you actually SEE, not based on theory or 'gee whiz I'd hate to be sleeping out there myself'.


  8. chickenlittle222

    chickenlittle222 In the Brooder

    Oct 20, 2008
    Barrington New Hampshire
    has anyone used the Infrared Ceramic Heat Emitter Bulb in their coop?
  9. Chicken Lil

    Chicken Lil Songster

    Nov 14, 2008
    :)Thanks to all of you for your help. First I'll put in the themometer like Pat suggested. We already lock the girls up at 5 pm and let them out at 8 am. We also have an overhead light, not heat lamp, that creates a bit of warmth. I figure that with the water heater in the coop it will also generate some heat.

    I appreciate all of your input!!

    Chicken Lil

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: