Winter coop paranoia

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by WoooChickenses, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. WoooChickenses

    WoooChickenses Hatching

    Dec 2, 2009
    Hi i'm new to the message board and new to chickens as well.

    This will be my first winter with them and I have 6 golden laced wyandotte hens
    and live in Minnesota.

    I built the coop with 1.5" foam insulation sandwiched between plywood to try
    and keep the cold out a bit.

    I have read some posts that say you shouldn't heat a coop...because if the heat
    goes out in the winter they may all die. And some that say you should.

    I was just wondering what peoples experiences were in colder climates.

    Also... I did take a line voltage thermostat and rig it to a heat lamp in the
    coop.. ( 4 x 6 feet coop ) so if it drops below 35ish degrees it should click on
    the bulb. But now that I have i'm sitting here thinking... chickens make a lot
    of dust.... has anyone ever heard of a chicken coop explosion?

  2. CityChook

    CityChook Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    First of all, let me say
    from the Twin Cities!

    There are many differing opinions regarding heating a coop, even here in MN. Much of the decision will depend on how many chickens you have, the size of your coop, the sunlight that it gets, the hardiness of your breeds, the extent of your ventilation, etc. Glad to hear that you insulated -- that will definitely be to your advantage.

    More important than heat is keeping your coop draft free. It's quite remarkable how much nicer it feels, even at 0F, when the air is still. Put ventilation up high, because even when it's really cold you're still going to need it. You don't want that cold air blowing on the chickens, especially while they roost at night.

    I choose to heat my coop. It is 6x8 with 4 heavy breed chickens. They are unable to heat up the coop *at all* with their body heat - the space is just too big. I provide 250 watts with a ceramic heat emitter (radiant heat, no light) over their roost. It doesn't really heat up the air in the coop much, but it does provide some comfort in the depths of the night-time when it's the coldest. In January when it gets really bad around here, I supplement with a second 250 watt red bulb. My coop tends to run around 10F. Definitely not the Bahamas, but the minimal heat provided takes the edge off. With only 4 chickens, if our power went out and it started looking like a problem, I can always bring them into the garage or basement.

    My personal opinion is that 35F regulated through a thermostat is not necessary for a chicken. All it's going to do is send your heat bill into overdrive in our climate. Try as I may, even with insulation, I don't think I could maintain 35F inside my coop.

    Check out my personal page for more information on wintering chickens and feel free to PM me anytime if I can be of help.
  3. backyarder717

    backyarder717 In the Brooder

    Nov 15, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    Chickens have been around for hundreds of years. back then people could barely heat themselves and their homes! I would not worry about heat in the least I dont.
  4. Your construction sounds good and you're in a bitter winter zone.Will you be using a layer light for egg production? Mine is on from 5 am - 8 am, not really for heat, but I'm sure we get a little. Also have an electric dog bowl on in winter, and even though the base is only at 50 F, there is transfer of moisture and heat into the air. If you have overhead ventilation your birds should be fine, and you have a backup plan for exceptionally low temps.

    Some thoughts on winter in the link below.



  5. gsim

    gsim Songster 9 Years

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    Welcome to BYC. City chook nailed it and she lives there too. Lucky you.

    I would try to shoot for maintaining20- 25 degrees or so. Not impossible to do even there. If you will glue styrofoam building/sheathing panels to inside of walls of coop and especially roof it will make a noticeable difference In 1" thickness, it is an R6. Combined with plywood or OSB of your walls, that makes a total of R9. Another tip would be to partially close the vents overnight to a crack, and have none on N or W sides open at night. Open everything in AM when you let the inmates out and do cleaning and chores. Airs it out and temp not so vital while they are active and moving about. Use 2 x 4 roosts and mount them so that their broad side is for the birds feet. This will insure that their feathers cover their toes when they settle in and lessen likelihood of frostbite. They can get frostbite on their combs and wattles tho regardless. Use deep litter method to help keep floor warmer and minimize loss of heat too. A string of 75W heat lamps securely mounted maybe 14" above their roost pole with reflectors will take the bite out of a real cold snap. Unless really severe weather, should be needed only overnight while they are motionless and have low heart rate and circulation.

    Use BYC for lots of tips and do not be shy about calling the hatchery you ordered from. They are bonafide experts. [​IMG]

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