should i get a coop heater?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by igotchickens, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. igotchickens

    igotchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 2, 2010
    I'm new to raising chickens, and this will be my first winter with them! I have 11 chickens. When I got them they came with a 4'x10'x8' "coop", which was basically 2x4s screwed together to make the frame and chicken wire for the walls. I added plywood to make walls (darker, feels more safe, protects from wind, extreme heat - miraculously got eggs for the first time within days of doing that), except no plywood on the door, which is still framed chicken wire, basically like a screen. The "coop" is up against the wall but there's about 6" on one side that is exposed too, also chicken wire. That is inside of a larger run, fenced off chicken wire about 200 sq ft or so? I live in Poway, CA, where the average lows in the winter are 40s, but can get down to the 30s. I'm sure that on rare occasions it gets to the 20s but haven't experienced that, and it definitely NEVER snows here. So, my question is if I should get a heater, and if so, what should be my guidelines for when to use it? I know tons of people out here have chickens (because I can hear the roosters) but I have no idea what they do in the winter or if it would be silly to get one? Oh, I'm not a crazy chicken lady but I don't want them to die of frost either. Please help!!
  2. Cargo

    Cargo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 28, 2010
    Farmington, NM
    They do not need a heater at those temps.
    Just make sure they are protected from the wind and have good ventilation.
    Give them wide roosts like the wide side of a 2x4 so they can keep toes warm.
    Should be just fine.
  3. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    Nope, no need for a heater. Not sure what they have for a roost, but I agree with Cargo, they really like a 2x4 instead of something round--they like to sit to perch more then gripping like songbirds. The 2x4 perch helps them keep their feet warm in cooler temps too.

    We got unusually cold for a week or two last year--single digets instead of our more usual mid-20's or higher and my chooks did fine in an unheated, uninsulated coop.

    ETA: [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2010
  4. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    I agree with the other comments about not needing to add a heater, but just wanted to add another thought. Chicken wire isn't predator proof, so if you're relying on the chicken wire covered door to keep your chickens safe at night, you might be in for a nasty surprise one morning. If you replace the chicken wire with welded wire (also sometimes referred to as hardware cloth), that would keep your chickens safer.
  5. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    You also need to be sure there is some ventilation at or near the top of the coop. This is to let the warm humid air out, along with the ammonia. These are what is harmful to chickens, not your temps, which are a balmy day to them. If they were to get a bit of frostbite it would be because of humidity, not temperature.

    Lots of chickens don't like snow, but if you shovel them a path or give them a covered run, they're out there in the cold as if it were a summer day. I know you don't have snow, it's just to give some perspective on temps.

    Here you go, from an expert:
  6. sydney13

    sydney13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 11, 2010
    they should be perfectly fine [​IMG]
  7. lynnemabry

    lynnemabry Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2010
    Beautiful Lake County
    My coop sounds a lot like yours.
    I have had no problems with the peeps staying warm. Last week we had a hard frost most of the week. It never did thaw. The high was in the low 30's. I just made sure they had plenty of food and gave them a couple of small scoops of scratch at sundown.
    They seem happy.
    They have even been cooped up most of the time so that the nearby bobcat doesn't know dinner time is every night.

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