The lady at TSC just gave me the side-eye.....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickenHawk12, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. ChickenHawk12

    ChickenHawk12 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2015
    Because I told her I wasn't putting a heat lamp in my coop over the winter. Now I feel utterly irresponsible.

    I have 5 Buff Orpingtons (3 already laying, 2 still not, but I'm wondering if they won't until spring now because the days are getting short) that are 27 weeks old. They have a 4X8 foot coop which is up off the ground 2-3 feet, and a 8X16 foot run enclosed with chicken wire/landscape fabric (including the door). Right now their water and food are hanging under the coop on hooks (plus fermented feed in a tray on the run floor), but I imagine I will have to hang at least the water in the coop once it gets cold.

    I live in coastal NJ. Today it's 70 degrees, but most of the winter it hangs out between 20 and 40 degrees, but it's not rare during a cold front to get into the teens and single digits. We rarely get below zero. Their coop/run is well protected from wind because it is in the corner of our backyard, 2 sides blocked by a 6 foot vinyl fence, the 3rd side facing the fenced backyard, and the 4th side only about 8-10 feet from the house.

    I figure that they are a cold-hardy breed, and are fairly protected from gusty winds. They aren't tropical animals....the pilgrims had chickens, didn't they? And most of them survived.....

    Do I REALLY need a heat lamp in the coop that will keep me awake all night with worry about a fire? I wasn't planning on putting a light in there anyway for eggs over the winter. I don't want to disrupt their natural rhythms. I can go to the supermarket for eggs for a month or two :)
  2. lindalouly

    lindalouly Grd Ctrl 2 Major Tom

    I wouldn't put a heat lamp in their coop.
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j True BYC Addict

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    You have a cold hardy breed with moderate winter temperatures. Make sure your coop has plenty of ventilation and the birds will be fine.
  4. Lozuufy

    Lozuufy Pigeons are nutty

    May 20, 2012
    It gets to 20 below zero (fahrenheit) where I live and my chickens are fine as long as they have protection from the wind. On super cold nights ( -20) sometimes I will put some hay in the coop for extra insulation. I have never heated my coops and even my bantams, pigeons and quail have done fine with just wind protection. [​IMG]
  5. Ol Grey Mare

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

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    x2 .....very few chickens have any need for heat....fully feathered, healthy birds of most breeds have more potential for harm from heat than benefit.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    No, you don't need heat in the coop to keep the birds warm.
    People who work at TSC don't necessarily know all (or anything) about chickens.

    But.... you do need lots of ventilation....... and you may need to use some kind of heat to keep their water from freezing.
    Oh, and eggs can freeze if not gathered frequently.
  7. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2014
    Ditto on keeping a supply of unfrozen water available. That can be a by using a heater or simply going out with fresh warm water a couple times a day.
  8. JackE

    JackE Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    Check out the pic below. Buffs like the cold. Open front coop, no heat or insulation, beyond what the chickens themselves already provide.

  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Some people at Tractor Supply or other feed or hardware stores are quite knowledgeable, but a lot are not, no matter how helpful they may try to be. Until you get to know which is which, be careful with what they say or do.

    As long as they have ventilation and wind protection I fully agree, chickens don’t need any supplemental heat and more than the wild birds that overwinter there. They need ventilation because they need fresh air to breathe, even more than you and me. Their respiratory system is more sensitive than ours.

    There are a lot of different ways to handle freezing water, especially if you have electricity out there. I do not use electricity, I use black rubber bowls I got from Tractor Supply. If you set that black rubber in the sun (when you have sunshine) it will stay thawed at pretty low temperatures. When it freezes you can bash it or stomp it to knock the ice out and refill it. That rubber will not break.

    Chickens are not tropical animals. I took this photo when the temperature was 4 degrees above zero Fahrenheit. I left the pop door open and let them decide whether to come out or not. Since a stiff breeze was not blowing, they came out.

  10. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    You'll get all kinds of mis-information from folks at the feed store. They like to sell things! Your temps are quite moderate. I agree with what OP have stated regarding this situation. However, I will state, that when the temp stays below 0*F for days and weeks on end, AND when your flock's behavior changes, then you might need to add a bit of heat. My flock had much decreased movement, as well as decreased feed consumption when the weather got super cold. When I see those changes, I do give them a bit of heat.

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