To heat or not to heat?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Fancypants1, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. Fancypants1

    Fancypants1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2014
    Central Massachusetts
    We have 7 chickens, 3 are winter hearty, 4 are not ( polish and EF). It is getting pretty cold here in Massachusetts, 24 right now. I see some people heat their coop around here and some don't. What do people suggest? The coop is not insulated and has a small window for ventilation. I am nervous about heating it do to fire hazards. They are only 6 months old and just started laying. What should I do? Heat or no heat? I would have to run an electrical cord about 50 feet to reach our coop.

  2. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    That is a pretty small coop and with seven chickens in there there will be a certain amount of body heat. You can put in some extra bedding and they should be fine. We don't heat our barn, there's really no way to, although we turn heat lights on for them during the day when we are home and awake, if it's super cold. But never at night, not even for our recently hatched chicks and their mom. And they do fine. Chickens are pretty hardy, really.

    It's just a matter of personal choice though. Our neighbor has an overhead heat light in his coop and he has it on every night when it's cold.. His coop isn't very big and there are 17 chickens in his. I just think it's too big of a fire hazard, personally.
  3. Fancypants1

    Fancypants1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2014
    Central Massachusetts
    Thank you for your option, I agree with the fire hazard. It's too much of a risk. I just feel so bad knowing that it's so cold outside and they are out there. I know they all puff up at night and cuddle together, I just want to hear others thoughts on the topic. I have a 2x4 with the flat side up so they have a wide roost to plop their butts on and are able to cover their feet at night. Some are sleeping in the nesting boxes and a few sleep on top of the nesting boxes.
  4. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    If you choose to heat, do your best to avoid heat lamps unless you take a lot of precautions to avoid the risk...

    A MUCH BETTER option is to get a low temper ceramic radiant heater or what I always suggest a 'pig blanket', they go by different names like nursing heating pad, and they even sell 'chicken pads' now... A pig blanket only get about 35° over the air temp, so even on a 100° day it's FAR from hot enough to start a fire, and on a winter day it's just slightly warm to the touch, no risk of ignition... Fire risk is pretty much non-existent from the pad, your only real risk is the electricity at that point.... And for that I suggest a SINGLE heavy gauge all weather extension cord, not the cheap 16 gauge orange ones that are known to get brittle and crack in cold weather and also are generally 16 gauge wire over that length is too small for most heaters, get a 12-14 gauge all weather one instead (yes they are costly) and your first risk is pretty much gone...

    Us small spacers and mount it off the wall of the coop about 1" preferably in the back of their roost or front so that they don't lean against it just to be safe... The reason you mount it off the wall is so that air flows by on both sides and better heats the inside of the coop instead of one side heating the cold outside wall...

    Example only not a vendor recommendation...
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2014
  5. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge True BYC Addict

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I prefer not to heat but have had to resort to it due to massive molting and well below zero temps in my state. This is similar to what I am using.
    Much safer than a heat lamp IMO.
    However as others have mentioned your coop is small enough that 7 chickens should be fine without heat added.
    I am going with what the hens body language is saying for mine. Huddled up or hunched over and shivering means that they need heat. Moving around and eating well, being generally active means they are fine.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by