Trying to keep the coop warm.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Cassey, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. Cassey

    Cassey Out Of The Brooder

    May 20, 2016
    Hi! I've been trying to keep the coop a warmer place, then outside, so the chickens can have a place to stay warm.

    I have a thermometer inside the coop. Right now it reads 24 degrees fahrenheit, which is the same temperature outside.

    Any ideas on how to keep the coop warm?

    Thanks, Cassey.
  2. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You are thinking the opposite of what is best for your chickens. Chickens are far more stressed by being exposed to temperature extremes than they would be by keeping everything as close to the same temp as possible.

    When they sleep in a heated coop, then have to spend all day in freezing temps out in their run, your chickens are going to be far more uncomfortable in the cold. Chickens have a wonderful adaptation that sends cooled blood down their legs to their feet, thereby avoiding freezing tissue. But a heated coop interferes with this mechanism.

    People in Alaska and Canada have chickens in unheated coops and those chickens do splendidly. I'm in Colorado and we just went through a bout of zero degree weather, and all my chickens did fine without heat.

    Be kind to your chickens. Do not heat their coop.
  3. Fourgirlyhens

    Fourgirlyhens Just Hatched

    Dec 4, 2016
    Juneau, Alaska
    I live in Juneau, Alaksa and this is my first winter wth my hens. When asking the local farm about chicken care they highly recommend not hearing the coop. Iv had a lot of pressure from people who don't have chickens and people who do have chickens to hear my coop. But based on research of my Breeds and what most of the people on here say, I haven't added any heat. I'm too scare of fire hazards mostly. The coop wasn't built for electricity and it rains here a LOT. But I am trying to figure out how to get light in there for the long dark winter nights. I think iv landed on using Christmas lights.
  4. speedy2020

    speedy2020 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2010
    For those that live in cold climate, it may be best to raise chicken with small comb like pea comb. The small comb avoid frostbite.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  5. BrokeFarmerJohn

    BrokeFarmerJohn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 24, 2015
    Columbus, Ohio
    Most people say don't heat the coop, I didn't last year and lost a bird every cold snap we had, after 3 lost hens I added heat, never lost another bird all winter. My chickens stay in the coop during the winter, I don't let them free range, my coop is 4 horse stalls, one stall I converted to there coop and I let them run the other stalls. I put a radiant heater in my coop, also had a heat lamp pointed at there waterers. I had a wireless thermostat in there coop as well, I kept the coop around 35-40 all winter, just enough heat to take the edge off for them.

    We had many days of -15 in Ohio. Do I suggest it? Not really unless hens start dying, I will not be heating the coop unless I lose birds.
  6. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 14, 2015
    Northern Colorado


    I'm in Colorado too. We just had a -14F day a couple days ago. No heat here. Everyone hunkered in the coop, but the only dilemma was the frozen water I had to fill 3x. But I'm used to that. So are they; they're acclimated to our temps and I have cold tolerant breeds.

    I lost a few last year but they were a new breed for me, and obviously not cold tolerant. So I don't have those anymore; culled them all. @BrokeFarmerJohn, I'd look into more cold tolerant breeds if you're having to heat your coop just to keep losses down.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  7. Wickedchicken6

    Wickedchicken6 Be the change you wish to see. Premium Member Project Manager

    Nov 7, 2015
    Southwestern MB, Canada
    Hi Casey! I've got Easter Eggers, Old English Game Bantams, Silkies and crosses of the three. We have been at your current temps for most of November and the odd night it dipped down to -12C (10.5F) I had two groups of roosters living outside and sometimes they opted for roosting outside rather than stay in their little building. I put the two renegades in every night, but I know they didn't always stay. Below is the one group of roosters.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The second pic is of the flock out on one of the last decent days we had. The coop wasn't heated nor was it air tight. We had wind and I had the plastic peeled back half way.
    Since that pic we applied new full, tight plastic with venting across the top and the roosters have been moved to a large shop. 40x60..something like that.
    We've dropped to -31C last night, -33C (-27.4F) tonight which is pretty cold pretty fast.
    I dug out my two tiny 750/1500 watt shop heaters; one for the coop and one for the shop and had them going since yesterday only to take the edge off the cold. Neither building is air tight by any means (which is a good thing) My goal is to keep temps in the -15C - -20C (5F - -4F) I don't want it's too hard on animals to have large temp fluctuations. The only guy having a rough time is the Barred Rock in the front of the second pic. He's new and still integrating into the it's been harder on him. I have chicks as young as 6 weeks in this.

    I prefer the cushion combs and small wattles, but I do have a few with the large straight comb and large wattles, time will tell how they do. Hands down the roosters I had outside are by far the toughest. The hens and guineas haven't missed a beat either. I hope this helps. [​IMG]
  8. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    Excellent point brought up by Speedy 2020 one such breed is the Chantecler bred by one of my Canadian countrymen

  9. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 14, 2015
    Northern Colorado
    Acclimation. I like that word. :D

    DH doesn't get why I don't like the house over 68 in winter and no AC in summer. Because I'd rather be acclimated to my environment. If I heat the house to 75 then go out and do chores in -10, I'm freezing my heinie off, but if its cooler in the house I don't get quite as much of a shock going in and out. Same thing in summer with no AC. sure my house gets to 85 inside and I sweat like mad, but when I go outside, its not near as unbearable as it is when I'm somewhere with AC then go out and feel like I'm going to die lol :p

    If its hard on me, its hard on them. I think they, like me, prefer the natural temp fluctuations that come and go; too much help can hinder sometimes.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  10. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada

    I am subject to -40º 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 as 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


    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.


    Nest boxes
    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new. Feed bags are a nylon mesh bag.
    Frozen poop just peels off in below freezing temperatures and just flakes off in summer when left out in the sun to bake and dry.

    I have 67 trips around the sun it is the best method I have stumbled upon.

    Make sure the twine is removed from the open end of the bag it can get tangled around your birds.


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