When to supplement light and heat?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Arrowheadfarm, Oct 20, 2010.

  1. Arrowheadfarm

    Arrowheadfarm Out Of The Brooder

    25
    0
    32
    Aug 2, 2010
    I have 6 chickens in a 6 x 12 uninsulated coop. The walls and roof are made of chicken wire. One side backs to my garage but the other 3 walls are exposed to wind. This will be my first winter with the birds and I'm not sure when to supplement heat and light for them to keep them warm and laying. Advice? I'm in the Pacific Northwest (Kitsap County), zone 6 or 7.
     
  2. linben

    linben Chillin' With My Peeps

    316
    1
    121
    Apr 5, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Do they have any area to get out of the wind or cold? If not I would add something in there for shelter ( something as simple as lean to piece of plywood, old dog house).. It would be easier than trying to heat. If you try to heat an area that is that open it will cost a fortune. I don't know about light. It isn't something I try to do.
     
  3. Arrowheadfarm

    Arrowheadfarm Out Of The Brooder

    25
    0
    32
    Aug 2, 2010
    The have their nesting boxes. I do have an old dog house that use to fit in the coop when it was a dog kennel...but now that I have roofed the coop, not sure how I would be able to get it inside. I could probably make something with plywood I have laying around.
     
  4. Arrowheadfarm

    Arrowheadfarm Out Of The Brooder

    25
    0
    32
    Aug 2, 2010
    The have their nesting boxes. I do have an old dog house that use to fit in the coop when it was a dog kennel...but now that I have roofed the coop, not sure how I would be able to get it inside. I could probably make something with plywood I have laying around. What about a heat lamp hanging above their roost?
     
  5. Arrowheadfarm

    Arrowheadfarm Out Of The Brooder

    25
    0
    32
    Aug 2, 2010
    They have their nesting boxes. I do have an old dog house that use to fit in the coop when it was a dog kennel...but now that I have roofed the coop, not sure how I would be able to get it inside. I could probably make something with plywood I have laying around. What about a heat lamp hanging above their roost?
     
  6. Arrowheadfarm

    Arrowheadfarm Out Of The Brooder

    25
    0
    32
    Aug 2, 2010
    They have their nesting boxes. I do have an old dog house that use to fit in the coop when it was a dog kennel...but now that I have roofed the coop, not sure how I would be able to get it inside. I could probably make something with plywood I have laying around. What about a heat lamp hanging above their roost?
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    95
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Chickens really don't do well with not being able to get out of wind, especially if it is also cold and damp.

    It would be better not to force them to sleep in nestboxes (meant for laying eggs in), as that tends to lead to pooey eggs, plus which a nestbox is usually not very large or congenial for long-term occupancy. I would suggest maybe getting some scrap plywood and knocking together some sort of roost-box type shelter, in the most-sheltered part of the pen, that contains the roost (obviously [​IMG]) and a roof and maybe 3 1/2 sides with a bit of ventilation high on its walls too.

    With this, chances are you won't *have* to supplement heat unless you have unusually unsuitable birds (e.g. very huge single combs). If you think there is ANY CHANCE you might ever want to run a lamp, though, make your roost box (or whatever you want to call it) AMPLY LARGE, really like a small coop, so there is plenty of room to mount a lightbulb and have it still be safely far from all wooden surfaces, bedding, and chickens. You would be surprised how easy it is for chickens to burn their combs on a bare bulb, or to bump and break it.

    As far as supplementing light, I assume you mean for laying (to minimize midwinter drop in egg production). Honestly it is almost a bit too late for that - if you were going to do it, I would suggest starting NOW, and giving them maybe 15 hrs of daylight (total) per day, and keeping it that way til next spring. Many, many people do not do this however, either on the theory that it is probably better for the birds or because it is just not worth the aggravation/risk/etc. Also, note that first-year pullets are less apt to experience a drop in winter egglaying than older birds are, especially in production lines/breeds (as opposed to more ornamental types).

    Personally, if I were in your shoes, I would not mess with lighting this year, and let the chips fall where they may. Then next year when you have more of the OTHER kinks worked out of the system you can contemplate whether you want to do supplemental lighting or not.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    95
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Not over an open-air roost -- that is an INSANE waste of money and fire hazard, since you would have to use quite high wattage and then STILL would not get great benefit from it (especially on breezy days).

    Over (or near) the roost in some sort of roofed and walled enclosure, yes -- but not a heatlamp, just a regular lightbulb. You can experiment and see what wattage you need -- if indeed you need any, which in your climate if you just construct the coop properly you *won't* -- but it is likely to be in the 60-100 watt range. Not only is this cheaper to run, it is also less of a fire hazard.

    You might check out the "cold coop" page linked in my .sig below for more ont he subject of winter and cold and such.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  9. Arrowheadfarm

    Arrowheadfarm Out Of The Brooder

    25
    0
    32
    Aug 2, 2010
    I guess my main question is then will they be ok (survive the winter) with an open air coop without supplemental heat? Assuming i put something in the coop they can climb into (like a dog house) and cuddle to get out of the wind/cold.

    If the weather dips low, lets say 10 degrees (which is rare around here) should I put them in a sheltered room for the nights till it warms up again?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by