To heat the coop or not...


11 Years
Apr 3, 2008
Ok, it is getting colder at night now..we got down to the low 30's which I think is still just fine for everyone. However, I'd like to get something into place for the winter IF we are going to do so.

1. We are located in MN...on the MN /ND border about central state...we easily see -40 wind chills, temps, etc. Should we be planning to heat the coop on these sorts of days? What do the rest of you in MN do?

2. Easiest, best way to keep water from freezing? we use a 3 gallon waterer that we got at Fleet Farm...I need to find out if there is something we can put in that to keep from freezing or should we get something actually meant to water chickens in the winter?



12 Years
May 24, 2007
I'm sure it gets much colder there than here but we do get temps in the -20s with windchill. I chose not to heat my coop last year (my first year with chickens). I have cold hardy breeds and use the DLM (Deep Litter Method) to help maintain the heat inside the coop. I did use insulation over the windows to keep air/wind from blowing in. My girls stayed nice and cozy last year. No frost bitten combs or wattles.

The biggest concern if you don't heat is to make sure you have ventilation but not drafts. You want your coop to stay nice and dry inside so the chickens can use their own body heat to keep each other warm.

I used 5 qt. ice cream buckets through the winter for their water. They are easy to pick and carry even filled with water so I could change them out two or three times a day if needed. I don't have electricity to my coop at this time. Others use heaters made for horse tanks or heated dog water bowls. Whatever works best for your situation is fine. Just make sure that there is no way a fire can start from anything electrical whether it's a heater for their water or for the coop itself.


Queen Of Clueless
11 Years
Jul 27, 2008
I agree. With ventilation and no drafts, insulation etc. As long as its built well I would think you wouldnt have to heat the coop? I cant remember my parents or grandparents ever heating their coops. Just my opinion.(Worth about a quarter of a cent,lol.
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Chicken of the Sea

In the Brooder
12 Years
Jan 1, 2008
Wellsboro, PA
I've had chickens on and off for the last 50 years and never have had a heated coop. Never lost a chicken to the cold either, we get pretty cold temps here in northern PA.
I do feed them cracked corn once a day in the winter.
For water I have used those rubber pans they have in tractor supply, the name escapes me at the moment. I have also used a heater that sits under the galvanized fount.


11 Years
May 8, 2008
Northeastern Ohio
When I asked several of the chicken "experts" here, inclucing my vet, they strongly advised heating or lighting the coop (my vet's barn caught on fire and he had to board out his 100+ birds at a friend's barn).

We have no electricity to the coop, and don't plan on any. I was assured that even in our weeks of below zero temps and sub-zero wind chills, a draft free, ventilated coop will keep them safe and warm.

Just be prepared to change out their waterers several times during the dayl.


11 Years
May 23, 2008

i live in mich and i heat my coop and the temps dont get as cold but with the insulation and a 60-100 watt regular light bulb they do great. its in the 50s and low 60s here and my girls have a 40 watt bulb now and they are screaming to me that it is cold. this will be thier first winter which will be a big surprise for them. but even with my temps i use a light bulb that will bring it above freezing, i would say about 40 and then i wont have to worry about the water freezing or them.


12 Years
Feb 8, 2007
Ontario Canada
If really concerned about warmth you can put a 'roof' of sorts over the roost with a downward angle to help keep the heat around them at night shen they roost. This will help with frozen wattles and combs as well. It is something I have been thinking of doing but haven't done yet:>)


In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 25, 2008
I am building my coop and will put a solar collector on the south side for the winter. That and some strawbales ought to keep my chickens warm without electricity. I will let you know how it works out.
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11 Years
Apr 5, 2008
Hastings, Nebraska
A lot of depends on the breed of chicken, some are not as hardy as others and do need a heated coop in cold climates.

The most important thing is to provide a Dry, draft free coop for them.

Also for a hens to lay consititanly they usually need 12 to 14 hours of light a day. so some put a light on a timer. We found for us that having the light come on earily and having the pullets/hens go to bed with natural light worked well. Some of the less hard breeds egg production can start to fall off when it gets below 45 degree.

As far as water, if you don't want to carry freash water to them a couple of times a day. Then you can get heater waters at most farm stores or online poultry sites. You also don't really want to get one to big. Having cold water splash on you in sub zero weather is not fun.

Last year we plugged two extension cord together to get power to the coop. Where we plugged them together we wrapped it in plastic then put tape around it. It was plugged into an out let that had a ground fault protection on it, just in case there was a problem. It was just so much easier on us not having to haul water it was worth it.

Although we did have heat in the coop, it still was not all that warm. But we did keep the coop near freezing in the coldest weather. Which was around -20 with a wind chill of -40.


11 Years
Aug 4, 2008
Camden, AR
We are not able to run electricity to our coop either. We HAVE run an outdoor extension cord for a light to the brooder cage.

Insulate the walls and roof of your coop to at least the standards of your house (not always do-able, but a good goal). Depending on how big your coop is, you could line the walls with square bales of straw. Increases insulation properties, cuts drafts, and also gives the bird options of where they may want to roost. If you use commercial insulation, remember to cover it with something that the chickens can't/won't pick at.

Cover the roof and south wall with black plastic, so that it will absorb as much heat from the sun as possible. Easier to remove once summer hits, and just as effective.

One thing we've done for our coop is place a clamp-on lamp with 100 watt bulb in the brooder cage, with a chicken-wire top. Heat rises. The little ones sleep under the light, and some of the adults roost on top of the brooder, over the light. I'm sure that as temperatures drop, more of the adults will start sleeping on top of the brooder.

Hopefully, some of our Canadian members will pop in here and let you know how THEY do it.


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