The first WINTER - ventilation, heating?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by CandylandRanch, Nov 13, 2014.

  1. CandylandRanch

    CandylandRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    121
    5
    68
    Sep 6, 2014
    Michigan
    this is our first winter wth our 10 hens and rooster (easter eggers and buff orps). And today is our first snow!! Here in good ol' Michigan. We have planned for winter , but there are so many things I have read that say one thing and then other articles or opinions that say another..

    Our coops is a large shed 12x16) converted. It's insulated, has two home Style windows that can be opend or closed tightly. We had two vents at the top where the roof meets the walls And two other passive vents in the roof but my husband thought they needed closed in the winter. The coop door (12x16 in) is left open all day to their enclosed run. We have two heating lamps going all the time also. The temp near the lamps (but not under them) is keeping above freezing. (For now)

    My concerns are the ventilation, which I know is important in the winter. If I open the ones at the top won't the heat escape?? Making it below freezing? Should I crack the windows instead? Or is that too drafty?

    Of course I'm concerned about a fire.. Two heat lamps running all the time.. Scary!! But how else do u keep above freezing temps?

    I don't want sick or cold chickens, and I don't want a fire or frostbite.. What's the best plan for us?
    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,699
    2,648
    466
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    You don't need heat at all. It's very expensive, stresses the birds because they go from warm to extreme cold and back again, they'd be in major shock if power went out at -10F and it just isn't necessary. I'd open all the vents and windows, there isn't likely to be any drafts in a building that size unless one whole wall is open.
     
  3. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,213
    453
    231
    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    Do your birds(And your electric bill) a favor, and get rid of those heatlamps. Chickens can handle cold weather. With their feathers, they are perfectly insulated and capable of dealing with what you call cold. And open the vents up. Lack of proper ventilation, is a much bigger problem in the winter, than the cold. You may even have to open one, maybe both, of those windows.
    Chickens generate a lot of humidity, just from breathing. And we are not even talking about moisture, and ammonia from their waste. If that moisture is not removed with proper ventilation, the birds can suffer from frostbite, and can even be subject to various respiratory problems. Heatlamps can also prevent your birds from properly acclimatizing to the winter cold. Then, if for some reason, the heat goes away, from either a power loss, or bulb burnout, then your birds WILL suffer. And really all for nothing. Another thing heatlamps are good for is burning coops down. Every winter, we will read again, about somebody burning their coop down, because they were worried that their birds were chilly.
    Check out the coop below. It is a proven 100yr old design, that is unheated, and uninsulated. And the whole front wall is open. This is the 5th winter, and I've never lost a chicken to the cold, and none of them has ever suffered from frostbite. Coops like this were in use all the way up into Canada, in -40 temps.

    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    17,008
    5,297
    501
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oregon
    My Coop
    X 2 to ChickenCanoe and JackE
     
  5. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

    812
    34
    133
    Apr 12, 2011
    NJ
    Heating the coop is for keeper's peace of mind. I think you will come to the same conclusion after your first year of winter.

    Your coop sounds pretty winter ready. The temp in the coop will drop below freezing and the birds will be fine. Only suggestion is if the vents can be open or close depending on which way the wind is blowing.
     
  6. CandylandRanch

    CandylandRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    121
    5
    68
    Sep 6, 2014
    Michigan
    Thank you, thank you! So what kind of temps can I expect these girls to endure? I guess I have far under estimated them. Is there a temperature I should try to be sure to stay above inside the coop? And what about a heat lamp just for night? (Makes a good night light for them)
     
  7. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    17,008
    5,297
    501
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oregon
    My Coop
    You don't want/need a "night light" - chickens need those hours of darkness and do not need heat at night any more than they do during the day. I have kept chickens in unwired (thus unheated) coops in temperatures below zero and never had an issue.
     
    2 people like this.
  8. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,213
    453
    231
    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    EE's and BOs, with their pea type comb, can handle cold that you will never see. They are a couple of the more cold tolerant breeds you can get. Let the temp in the coop settle where ever it will. The birds will generate their own warmth. My open-air coop's interior, is usually 10-15 degrees higher than the outside temp during the winter. Again, get rid of the heatlamps. They can cause faaaaaar more problems, than any imagined help.
     
  9. CandylandRanch

    CandylandRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    121
    5
    68
    Sep 6, 2014
    Michigan
    [​IMG]

    I appreciate all of the advice. All of our venting is on the south west wall , the windows could easily be opened and closed but the vents (which u can see in the fascia) could be closed with a board as needed I suppose. The roof venting would be a little harder to reach as needed, I guess i should leave those open then, right?
     
  10. CandylandRanch

    CandylandRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    121
    5
    68
    Sep 6, 2014
    Michigan
    [​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by