Think it's too cold for your chickens? Think again...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mrs MIA, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

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    ETA 12/10/10: This was posted in response to a FaceBook post from someone in Florida that had two 250w heat lamps on their birds and it hadn't even dipped to freezing yet. I am not going to tell you NOT to add heat, but if you do, understand that you are restricting their normal acclimatization and will likely have to continue to pamper them through the winter. I personally cannot afford to heat all 4 chicken houses, and with careful observation have determined that they are perfectly fine down to 0F with so-so housing, and lower with properly set up/insulated housing. That said, continue reading! [​IMG]



    It dipped to 0F this morning. I knew it was coming, so I added fresh shavings to the pen, added a pile of hay in the corner, wished them well and said good night.

    Did I run around running extension cords from the house to plug in 500 watts of heat? No.

    Did I add any heat? No.

    I have ~ 20 12-16 week old juveniles in a hoop run - this is my "grow out" pen". The pen is about 10'x16', and is covered by your average tarp. Black plastic covers the areas that the tarp misses, but the end with the wooden door is open 1" chicken wire. It's not insulated, it's somewhat draft free, but with 20 mph winds, nothing is really draft free. And did I mention no heat lamps? [​IMG]

    All my babies were running around this morning like it was a summer day. 0F, no signs of frostbite, no signs of suffering... well, except for the fact that their water was frozen solid and they were thirsty... but they're happy now with fresh water. The adults were happy with fresh water, too. [​IMG]


    Did I mention it was 0F? And no heat? [​IMG]

    I'm just saying... SO many people ask when they should add heat. I understand... I'M cold! But I'm not wearing a down coat. [​IMG] I, for one, can do without a $600 electric bill for one month. Want happy, healthy, safe birds this winter? Hold off on the heat.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010
    15 people like this.
  2. PaulaJoAnne

    PaulaJoAnne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Mrs. AK-Bird-Brain :

    It dipped to 0F this morning. I knew it was coming, so I added fresh shavings to the pen, added a pile of hay in the corner, wished them well and said good night.

    Did I run around running extension cords from the house to plug in 500 watts of heat? No.

    Did I add any heat? No.

    I have ~ 20 12-16 week old juveniles in a hoop run - this is my "grow out" pen". The pen is about 10'x16', and is covered by your average tarp. Black plastic covers the areas that the tarp misses, but the end with the wooden door is open 1" chicken wire. It's not insulated, it's somewhat draft free, but with 20 mph winds, nothing is really draft free. And did I mention no heat lamps? [​IMG]

    All my babies were running around this morning like it was a summer day. 0F, no signs of frostbite, no signs of suffering... well, except for the fact that their water was frozen solid and they were thirsty... but they're happy now with fresh water. The adults were happy with fresh water, too. [​IMG]


    Did I mention it was 0F? And no heat? [​IMG]

    I'm just saying... SO many people ask when they should add heat. I understand... I'M cold! But I'm not wearing a down coat. [​IMG] I, for one, can do without a $600 electric bill for one month. Want happy, healthy, safe birds this winter? Hold off on the heat.

    You Got It!!! Just wait till it gets to 30 below here [​IMG] My birds, and they are just that, birds, that I love, are well designed to handle the weather, just like their wild counter parts [​IMG]

    And I agree, adding heat creates condensation, which in turn causes frostbite.​
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2010
    2 people like this.
  3. newchicksnducks

    newchicksnducks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Totally agree. [​IMG] The only "heat" needed may be to the waterer...I use a heated waterer so that they can have fresh water all day.
     
  4. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

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    I use the heated dog dishes in the layer coop, and save 1 gallon milk jugs to take water out to the "general population" of about 50 birds in the layer coop. [​IMG] You can even fill them with snow, and let them melt if you don't want to haul water and live where it snows.
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you for this thread!!! It says a lot when someone in Alaska does not add heat, even with younger chickens.

    Maybe as a result there will be a few less coop fires this year.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    "But, but, but," she sputtered, whining, "What about the poor juvenile birds with no momma hen to cover 'em? They're only 3 weeks old! It got down to 42 degrees last night - how could those 14 little not-all-feathered-out chicks stay warm without supplemental heat??"

    [​IMG]

    Actually, they huddled together and stopped peeping after about 20 minutes. Occasionally, throughout the night, there were short peep sessions when somebody moved and dislodged a closely huddled neighbor.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2010
    1 person likes this.
  7. PaulaJoAnne

    PaulaJoAnne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Quote:As a general rule, we Alaskans do not put babies out that young this time of year. We do have good common sense [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Raen

    Raen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 3, 2010
    Missouri
    Alaskan chicken-people: Do you ever heat? Are your coops insulated? This is our first winter in Maine, and the first winter with chickens, and I'm debating the insulation thing. Thanks!
     
  9. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

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    Quote:[​IMG] That made me laugh. [​IMG] I usually keep my juvies in the garage (stays about 58-60F) until fully feathered out. I have two Orpington boys in there right now that I SO want to put outside, but they're still in their mangy T-Rex stage. [​IMG]
    3 weeks old is still pretty young, I wouldn't blame you for supplementing with a little heat. By three weeks I've dropped them down to a 60 or 100w bulb, though. But it sounds like yours did ok without it. [​IMG]

    I did an experiment in the garage with my quail. I had them all under a 100w bulb until they were almost feathered out. Then I split them between two pens... I left the light on in one, and the other half have no light/heat. Just as I suspected, after one week, the quail without the heat have feathered out much more than the ones with heat. It would seem that by leaving the heat on them, we are making them dependent on it. Which means that when the power goes out suddenly, they are NOT going to be happy campers.

    My original post this morning was in response to a Facebook post on a chicken page where people in Florida were saying that they already had two 250w heat lamps on their adult birds. [​IMG] IMHO, they are doing more harm to their birds who do not need the extra heat.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

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    Quote:What's the absolute lowest temperature you'll see this winter?
     

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