To Heat or not Heat my Coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Lost Pine, Dec 3, 2016.

  1. Lost Pine

    Lost Pine Out Of The Brooder

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    This is my first winter with my BYC and I was wondering whether or not to put a heater, probably 75 watts in my coop. I live in Southern NJ 10 miles inland from the coast. and we rarely get into single digits, mostly teens in the dead of winter. I have 4 dominicker chickens that are 1 year old in a 4x4 sq ft coop. I believe these are considered winter hardy birds. I've read both pros and cons about heating the coop.
    I would like to hear some thoughts on this subject. Thanks in advance for your comments and help.
     
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I wouldn't. Your birds are more than warm enough sporting a natural down coat and if bothered will go in coop where collectively produce 40 watts of heat.

    I'm 500 miles North of your location and don't heat my coops.

    The biggest con other than potential fire is your birds have a small coop and would be acclimated to that high temp. They'd not go outside resulting in them literally being cooped up all winter.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
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  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Don't do it.

    First of all, chickens are physiologically equipped to deal with cold temperatures that would freeze our will to live.

    Second, subjecting chickens to temperature fluctuations, especially when extreme cold is involved, robs them of the ability to cope efficiently with those extreme cold temps, resulting in discomfort at the very least, and inviting cold and heat related issues at the other extreme.

    Chickens have some remarkable biological mechanisms to combat extreme cold, and trying to heat their environment can cause problems. Their feathers function as excellent insulation against the cold, and if they have to sleep in a heated coop, those very feathers then become a source of discomfort. They have a "heat exchange" mechanism in the blood circulation in their legs that cools the blood going to their feet, preventing their feet from freezing. Heating their coop interferes with this very efficient mechanism, actually increasing the risk of frostbite.

    We do out chickens no favors by heating their coops.
     
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  4. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    [​IMG]

    I am subject to -40ยบ weather l live in Canada think North Pole. I have been keeping chickens and birds for decades.

    Your best practice I find is to not be too concerned about winterizing or heating your coop to help your birds combat the cold.

    Predator proofing "ABSOLUTELY".

    Your efforts should be spent in winterizing your birds and letting them acclimatize to their surroundings.
    This is done by feeding them whole corn an added supplement in a separate feeder.

    The extra nourishment is more then adequate to bring them through the
    "COLDEST" winter.

    Do keep an eye open for birds that maybe not be adapting well to the new menu and may be at the lower end of the pecking order they can sometimes run into problems and may need extra TLC.

    That being said in a perfect world the flock will flourish and do just fine .

    I do not add any extra heat or lighting.
    Egg production does slack off but I have more than enough eggs for the table all winter long (24 hens).

    Some people may disagree with my method but it has worked well for me and I am not about to change.

    I look at it in the same light as winterizing your car.

    You really do

    "NOT"


    have to winterize your car if you can keep it in a controlled environment at all times otherwise you are in for

    "MAJOR" problems.

    When it comes to lighting if you find you are short on eggs it does apparently help. I personally do not bother in my operation eggs are sold only to neighbours when they are available (if the sign is out I have eggs). Eggs in my operation have a tendency to crack and freeze during the winter months (we do not discard them and are fine but use them in house not for sale) the more eggs you produce during these months the more eggs will fall into this category.

    I have roughly 24 Golden Comet hens the longest I ever been out of eggs can be measured in hours >12<24. You will find that the egg supply in any hen is a finite resource the quicker you milk the eggs out of a hen the faster it will be spent and end up in your stew pot.

    On average one hen produces somewhere between 600 to 700 eggs in its life time. Lighting only effect the speed of delivery of the eggs which at the end of the day would amount to less than a year in the hens life is my guess

    If you do decide extra lighting is necessary have your light on a timer to lengthen the day "MAKE SURE IT IS SECURED BY 2 MEANS OF SUPPORT" one being a "SAFETY CHAIN" in case one fails especially if it is an incandescent bulb or heat lamp.

    I personally raise hens as a hobby; and for their manure to enrich my vegetable garden any thing else the hens provide is merely a bonus.

    Here is one BONUS NOW not many people can enjoy seeing in their back yard on a regular basis.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. bigz1983

    bigz1983 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just got some backyard chickens too and I'm still learning. I live in Michigan and it gets cold here too.

    I have been putting the egg layer feed in a gravity feeder and I just dump the cracked corn on the ground.

    Should I put cracked corn in a feeder instead?

    So basically if I give my chickens cracked corn that will keep them warm during the winter and I wont need to heat my coop?
     
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Corn is a treat, so should be less than 10% of their daily diet. A scatter a SMALL amount of scratch every day or two, so they come when I call them. The balanced diet needs to be free choice in the feeder, not corn or treat type items. Mary
     
  7. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

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    You will find as many answers to this question as there are backyard chicken owners (I prefer whole corn personally). I would suggest you experiment with what you hear and do what is best in your situation. Everyone has their own twist on this topic. I have nearly 67 trips around the sun. I know what works for me but my winters are probably more harsh the most on this form.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2016
  8. bigz1983

    bigz1983 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 9, 2016
    ok thanks for the info
     
  9. MountainManFowl

    MountainManFowl Out Of The Brooder

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    I've never heated my coops, either. We have -30 temps here and our birds always winter over well.
     
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  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Many use corn as a daily treat for winter. I use corn too but prefer black oil sunflower seed for the brutal cold snaps. I don't use it daily but when the thermometer drops below 0 they get a mix of corn and sunflower supplement. On -20F and lower mornings when they stay in the coop on their own accord waiting for it to warm up to -10 I throw a lot of sunflower in the coop. My reason for sunflower is the incredibly high fat content. Pushing 30% fat. Corn has the carbs but sunflower has the fat. Both are high energy nutrition but for my money and brutal cold spurts high fat to turns to energy/heat quicker so what the birds get. Both have a lot going for them. Corn is high carb and 8% protein, sunflower is high 20's% fat and 14% protein. When it's brutal cold and there isn't a wild animal sound, air is still excepting the crunch of your foot falls then sunflower is a good choice for them to fill crops in morning.
     

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