Roost design ideas - Winter specifically

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by redbone, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. redbone

    redbone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 24, 2009
    Rockvale, TN
    I'm starting this subject because so many of us are concerned about our chickens in the winter. In particular frostbite on the comb. A friend mentioned to me that years ago when they had chicken tractors that they put a 60w light bulb in an enclosed paint can and that generated a lot of heat for the small coop of a tractor in cold winters. He said that the can would nearly burn you if you didn't have it vented some. I was thinking about that and how to possibly incorporate that into a roost design.


    Here is what I'm kind of thinking... build some sort of frame that can be suspended from the rafters or other means and a paint bucket in the middle radiating off heat. Some sort of a hood would be good to have on this as well to help hold heat down.

    Please forgive the crude design in paint [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Do you see kind of what I'm thinking? The chickens would roost all around the paint can. You could also expand this depending how many chickens you have.


    Thoughts?
     
  2. wildorchid053

    wildorchid053 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2009
    syracuse area, ny
    make sure it has a lid of some sort.. all that chicken dust .. i would be worried about fire.why not just use the red heat lamp that you used when they were babies? where do you live that you need heat?
     
  3. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2009
    DFW
    How cold does it get in your area? Unless you're experiencing below freezing temperatures for entended periods, chickens should do fine in a well ventilated coop that shelters them from drafts. Ventilation is key, though, because frostbite is far more likely to occur in the moist air of an inadequately ventilated coop.
     
  4. redbone

    redbone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 24, 2009
    Rockvale, TN
    I'm in TN.... its not too bad here. Maybe 10 days a year that I might get worried... but its enough that its caused slight frostbite on my rooster's comb. [​IMG] It took a couple months after that for it to look normal again. I got some Seramas this spring and with their size and coming from a warmer climate... I was thinking this might be a good thing to do.

    That red heat lamp is like 150+Watts. I'm talking about 60W or less and yes it would be pretty much sealed up inside a new paint can except for a few vent holes.

    I definitely wanted to at least mention the paint can thing because I thought that it was safer and maybe more efficient than one of those high wattage heat lamps. If you used it upside down and without the lid, it could act as a light too.
     
  5. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    There is a thread about making 'homemade' water heater bases from round cookie tins with a bulb enclosed in it. If you check the section for 'Feeding&Watering' your flock you should be able to find it...Maybe that would work for you??? Dry and draftfree are most important (at least that's what I hear....live in WI but not with chickens in winter....yet). Also roosts that are flat and maybe made from 4x2 boards instead of round roost are advised so the chickens can roost and cover their feet with their feathers to keep them from freezing....
     
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yes, Seramas are not known for being cold hardy. I have five Serama hybrids, myself, and I'll probably be offering them some supplemental heat (or just bringing them indoors) on the colder nights this winter. I'm in North Texas, and we usually get freezing weather a few times every year, too.
     
  7. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    First of all, consider that 4 heavy-breed chickens put out about as much heat as a 60 watt bulb. If you currently have 6-8 chickens (or more), a well-insulated coop (with ventilation) is probably fine for all but the coldest regions of the country (zone 2 or colder). Edited to add - I see you're in Tennessee. You probably don't need heat if you have a good coop.

    If you have a small number of chickens, you might want to check out this article on the "third hen" heater made out of a lightbulb inside a flowerpot. This was in Backyard Poultry Magazine - linked here - http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/issues/3/3-1/cheap_tricks_for_winters_challenges.html
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2009
  8. redbone

    redbone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 24, 2009
    Rockvale, TN
    I wish I had gone with my gut and provided heat in this last cold snap... their combs aren't looking good. [​IMG] I'm going to have to do something soon so they can start getting better.

    Anyone have ideas how to provide heat to the roost? I guess at a minimum I'm going to get a few hanging lights for them and hang over head.
     
  9. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Hi Redbone,

    Am a Tennessean too, out in W Knox Co.

    You might consider a structure mounted over the roost. It could be as simple as say, a 1x4 with porcelain sockets mounted along it's length. You could use 75 W red heat/hatchery lamps sold at tractor supply. I would do flashing as well and fasten it to the 1x4 before mounting the sockets. Then bend/curve it to form a reflector that will reflect the heat downwards towards the roost. Some reflectors of the cone shaped type can triple effectiveness of a heat lamp bulb. It must be mounted firmly because chooks are really spastic when bunching up on a roost and lots of flapping and pecking going on at times. You may even have to take preventative measures to stop chooks from roosting on top of the thing and crapping all over it! [​IMG] I am guessing that it would require 2 ft separation from roost to lamps. Likely could do one bulb every 10" - 16" or so?
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Ontario, Canada
    I am totally behind the idea of using a 60w bulb if that's all you need, rather than a higher-wattage one that wastes more electricity and has a higher risk of fire and burns. I also like the idea of shielding it so that there is not a light shining on the birds all night.

    I do think it'd be important to hang this well out of reach of birds, however, as the can will be getting hot enough to cause burns if someone touches it with their comb for more than an instant (and chickens DO that, I think they are not used to registering 'too-hot!' feelings, esp. not from their headgear). You'd also want to satisfy yourself that the can isn't getting hot enough smolder dust that collects on top of it, or anything like that.

    I can respect someone wanting in some circumstances to put a (small!!) heater in a very small coop such as a tractor (if you can find safe room for it there)... those things can be real hard to balance air quality and temperature and drafts, and in cold climates are always going to be closer to the line of genuinely benefiting from electric heating than normal large coops are. Although at the same time obviously I still think one should wait and see whether one does actually need heat, based on how the birds are doing/looking and what the conditions in the little coop really *are*.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     

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