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The Coop - To Heat, or Not to Heat?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by BekkiH, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. BekkiH

    BekkiH Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 2, 2012
    I have six 3-week-old chicks who will be moving into the coop in a few weeks. This is my first time owning chickens, so I'm very inexperienced.

    My biggest concern is the cold weather. I live in the lower part of Upstate NY. We have cold winters, but we're not looking at 20 below or anything like that.

    The coop we bought (but have not yet assembled) houses 6 chickens, which is exactly what I have. So they will be nice and snug inside.

    Right now, they are living in a dog crate brooder in the basement with an EcoGlow for warmth. They are doing OK with the cooler basement temps right now, and spend a lot of time playing, rather than just living under the heat. I'm hoping that will help them acclimate to the cooler weather.

    I'm just really torn on whether or not to heat the coop. I know that it is better to leave it alone. They generate their own heat, and huddle together. Plus chickens who are not used to weathering the cold nights are in big trouble if the power goes out (though we do have a generator).

    I'm just terrified of putting young chickens out there and seeing them freeze! I don't even know how or what kind of heat we would install if we did.

    Any suggestions? I am leaning towards NOT putting heat in the coop if I can do it safely. What are the recommendations for making sure the chickens can keep themselves warm?

    Thanks!
     
  2. groundpecker

    groundpecker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For winter time chicks, make sure they are fully feathered. Give them time to adjust to the cold before suddenly taking away the heat.
    You can start by turning off the ecoglow in the basement. If they continue to play leave it off. If they huddle together, then it is too early to remove heat. Give them about a week without heat before placing in the coop.

    When you do decide to place them in the coup, add straw or hay, so they can huddle on it to keep warm.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    My recommendation is to make sure they have good ventilation and are not in a direct breeze when they roost. I don't know what your coop looks like, but the way I achieve this is to have lots of openings above their heads when they roost.

    As far as worrying about cold weather, maybe this photo will help you. I took this when it was 4 degrees above zero Fahrenheit. I left the pop door open and let them decide what they wanted to do.

    [​IMG]

    I raise mine in a brooder in the coop. Last summer during our really hot weather I turned the daytime heat off at 2 days and the overnight heat off at 5 days. Days, not weeks. They were telling me they were too hot. They are tougher than a lot of people think but you can't do that this time of year.

    Last fall I put them in my unheated grow-out coop at 5 weeks. I kept the heat on in the brooder until then but the brooder is pretty big and I only heat one small area. They were well acclimated to cooler weather since that brooder really cools off. The overnight lows were in the mid 40's Fahrenheit when I put them outside. Just a few days later the overnight lows were in the mid 20's. They were fine.

    What I had going for me was that they were acclimated, the grow-out coop gave good draft protection but was very well ventilated, and I had about 20 of them so they could keep each other warm. At that age they were not roosting but slept together on the coop floor.

    I can't tell you what age to put yours out there. I never go past 5 weeks but I don't have your set-up and I practically always have more than a dozen chicks. At that age they are not going to roost but will sleep in a group snuggled in the warm bedding.

    I know it is nerve-wracking. I was concerned when I saw that forecast for the mid 20's and mine were 5-1/2 weeks old, but they were fine.

    Good luck!!!
     
  4. BekkiH

    BekkiH Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 2, 2012
    Thanks for the tips!

    Here is the coop that we bought: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0080CK8CK/ref=oh_details_o05_s00_i00

    The chicks spend a lot of time out from under the EcoGlow during the day, so maybe I will turn it off for a bit today and see how they do. Just trying to find that balance between toughening them up and freezing them. :( I am encouraged by the fact that they spend so much time out of the heat, though. Our basement is not heated at all, and I have to put a jacket on every time I go down to feed them! I bet they are tougher than I am giving them credit for. :)

    Once they are fully feathered and doing fine in the basement with no heat, should they be fine to move into the coop full time? Or should I transition them slowly?
     
  5. groundpecker

    groundpecker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 26, 2011
    Rison, Arkansas
    If they do well without heat in the basement. I would take them outside during the warm part of the day and see how they do. If they act normal, i would say it is safe to put them in the coop.
     

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