What temperature must I heat my coop to in order to not have fertile eggs go bad in the winter time?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by DocumentedPure, Apr 4, 2017.

  1. DocumentedPure

    DocumentedPure Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 15, 2017
    Rocky Mountain West
    I am trying to build a coop, but have never had chickens. I want to make sure that the eggs are still producing throughout the winter time. What temperature and light cycles do you use throughout the winter? How are your lay and hatch rates at that time? If you use a heater, how so do you heat your enclosure?
     
  2. Poultry parent

    Poultry parent Chillin' With My Peeps

    I use a heat lamp above the roost. Chickens lay during the winter in their first year, after that thy molt every fall/winter, sometimes the hen continues to lay, but generally they stop
     
  3. DocumentedPure

    DocumentedPure Out Of The Brooder

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    Rocky Mountain West
    Good to know. So what purpose do you have to heat the roost then, if they are not laying? Are yours not cold hardy?
     
  4. Poultry parent

    Poultry parent Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have 1 hen who isn't very cold hardy, and I just like to make sure she stays nice and warm
     
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I don't use any heat in coops. It's not needed and coop fires occur every year due to it.

    Your eggs will be fine. If they are fertile and collected everyday they will hatch. An egg can get to freezing point and still hatch but an egg can't freeze. So hatching eggs are treated just like eating eggs around here. If the egg is cracked then it froze and is tossed. No crack then on the counter it goes, either in the egg skelter for eating or the egg cartoon stockpiling hatching eggs. Easy.

    Sorry, I don't have an egg cartoon but do use egg cartons for storage and tilting hatching eggs while they stockpile up enough for starting a hatch. I collect eggs up to three weeks prior to putting in incubator.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
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  6. mymilliefleur

    mymilliefleur Keeper of the Flock

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    I agree with Egghead_Jr. I would never ever put a heat lamp in my coop (I don't even use heat lamps to brood chicks anymore) they are just way to dangerous. Chickens don't need supplemental heat unless it gets really cold (by really cold I mean below -20).
    Light affects egg laying a lot,so some people light their coop to make sure their birds get 16 hours of light a day.
    If you are worried about the eggs freezing then I would suggest getting the eggs a few times a day if possible. It has to stay well below freezing all day for eggs to freeze to the point that they crack, so as long as you don't leave them out over night they should probably be fine.
     
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  7. Poultry parent

    Poultry parent Chillin' With My Peeps

    I only use the heat lamp if it gets really cold, and then only for a few hours.
     
  8. Bl Copper Maran

    Bl Copper Maran Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We live in NW Washington, and in the middle of winter we need to use a heat lamp. Our Marans roosters get frostbite on their poor combs, and then the girls peck at it. We battled with infection on a roosters comb until he passed.
     
  9. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    It's a pretty bad frostbite if it gets infected. Your lacking enough ventilation. Without heat and in a colder climate than Wasington state our boys lose most of their tines to frost. That's normal and does not get infected. You need more ventilation not heat.

    Back on track of fertile eggs in winter. The egg is an incredible thing. It can withstand age, heat and cold and still be viable. A case in point would be the fertile eggs incubated from Trader Joe stores. Those are refrigerated eggs- down to 34 degrees and they still hatch. What causes them to have a lower than desired hatch rate is freshness. After 3 weeks egg viability starts to really drop off. It could go longer with better results if turned many times a day. So it's not the coldness or the heat it's the age of egg that is most critical to viability and if you turned them often then even time can be overcome to good degree. As stated, we store ours for up to 3 weeks on the counter and turn them maybe twice a day via a book moved from under one side to other.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
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  10. AllynTal

    AllynTal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you're in Virginia, it never gets cold enough to warrant using a heat lamp in the coop. As long as the coop is dry and draft-free (but with plenty of ventilation), the chickens will be fine. Chickens fluff their feathers out to create a dead-air space against their skin to keep themselves warm, so what feels cold to you is not cold to a chicken. (Which is also why 'chicken sweaters' are a ridiculous notion. They actually keep the chicken from being able to get warm.) I never put heat in the coop even when I lived in Massachusetts. You're toying with a dangerous practice putting a heat lamp in the coop. I don't even use one to brooder with anymore since I discovered the joys of the heating pad.

    As others have already pointed out, you won't be able to 'make' chickens produce eggs all winter. Temperature is irrelevant. If they don't have enough hours of daylight, their production slows down or ceases altogether. You can supplement daylight with lights in the coop. Please don't use fluorescent lights or you'll have a bunch of stressed out chickens; LED lights are best -- steady light with little-to-no heat produced. However, after the first year, they'll molt in the fall and they don't lay during the molt no matter what you do. Your best bet is to put LED lights in the coop on a timer and then give them a good-quality (read: high protein) feed to help them get through the molt as quickly as possible.

    I have to ask...if you've never had chickens before and you're already planning to hatch eggs, what plan do you have to deal with the extra cockerels? That is a major concern and something to think about *before* you start setting eggs to hatch.
     
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