Winter Heat

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by gmayberry, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. gmayberry

    gmayberry In the Brooder

    Aug 26, 2011
    I live in West Central Ohio and the winters get pretty cold. There are normally no extended periods of temperatures below zero but there are some days and maybe several in a row. My question is that if I have a heat lamp in the coop does it have to be directly over the area to be warmed? The coop is small about 5' x 5' x 5', just right for the four Brown Legherns I currently have. Would a lamp hung in the middle of the coop put out enough heat to take the chill off during the coldest of days or should it be directly over the roost area? I don't want to risk frostbitten combs.
    Any input will be appreciated.

  2. You probably don't need any heat in your coop. the chickens have nice down parkas under their feathers and should be fine. Last winter unless there was snow on the ground (they don't like their feet in the snow), they were running around outside on the coldest days. We have our girls in an unheated and uninsulated coop and they just huddle down in the pine shavings if they need to.
    Good luck!
  3. I agree, If they get used to depending on a heat lamp, that is dangerous for them. Just maybe put some hay, straw or deep chips in their coop. Also, put some petroleum jelly on their combs and wattles for the cold days, this will protect from frostbite.

    Oh, one more thing, I give mine their "porridge" right before bed, I mix yogurt, flaxseed, wheat flakes, oats, or any type of grain, together, then heat in mic. for 2 min. They love it and it warms their tummies to have something moving through during the night.

    Hope this helps!
  4. JackE

    JackE Crowing

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    I'll agree with the previous posts. You do not need a heatlamp. All you are going to do is run up your electric bill, NOT let your chickens acclimate to the cold weather, and possibly burn your coop down (There have been posts on just that) Also, make sure you don't seal up the coop in some misguided effort to "Keep the chickens warm". They need plenty of fresh air all through the winter months too. If you see frost building up in the coop when it gets cold, that's a sign that you DON'T have enough ventilation and that can cause frostbite, along with other health problems. Chickens can handle the cold, but their ability to handle it goes way down when they are sealed up in a poorly ventilated clammy box.
  5. Yello

    Yello In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2011
    Northern WI
    I am currently heating my coop at night but am going to discontinue this based on what everyone says. My question is will my girls decide for themselves when it's too cold to go out or should I leave them in on coldest days. I am in northern Wisconsin and we get cold cold cold. This morning in the 20's and my girls still running around.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Here's what mine did a couple of winters back. It was 4 degrees Fahrenheit when I took this photo. [​IMG]

    Mine generally don't like the wind and most don't like the snow. Last winter I had a couple that would walk through 9" of snow to check out the compost heap. Several, but not all, would go out foraging in 2" to 3" of snow as long as the grass and weeds were poking up through it. They never like snow the first time they see it, but some get used to it.

    I provide no heat and let mine decide when they go out. The lowest overnight temperature I had last year was (-)4 F, for reference.
  7. Yello

    Yello In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2011
    Northern WI
    Very helpful. Thanks so much. Your run looks alot like mine. I've been dumping leaves and such in there for them to scratch at when they're "cooped" up. This weekend starts deer hunting season here so I need to keep them in. Thanks again.

  8. Quote:They'll figure it out. Mine only stayed in when we had blizzards when I lived in cold states. I always had a small chicken sized door that I would open for them and they could come and go during the day.
  9. GardenState38

    GardenState38 Songster

    Apr 13, 2011
    Quote:Posting a question about heat here typically gets you an answer of "you don't need to heat", at the very least.

    Nevertheless, there are chicken keepers who provide heat for their chickens to combat sudden lows/prevent frostbite.
    Using common sense, anyone who feels better about making sure their chickens have access to a sleeping area that is above freezing can do so.
    If using a heat lamp, be sure that you use a secure fixture that cannot fall or be pulled down--preferably with a wire guard or cage that prevents anything from coming into direct contact with the bulb.
    Also, a thermo cube can be used--it is a plug-in adapter that turns anything plugged into it on at 35 degrees, and turns it off at 45 degrees, so that you can keep the coop temperature in that range without having to worry about overheating...and it saves electricity.

    I would use a heat lamp in the coop in a somewhat similar fashion to how I used it in the brooder--I'd place it where the chickens could move toward it or away from it, depending on how much heat they were seeking. If placing it near the roost, maybe place it near the midpoint, so that they can move to the left or right to avoid it, if they wished--or roost directly below it, if need be. But you won't know for sure how much heat/ humidity it's causing unless you get a thermometer with a hygrometer.
    I personally think it's a tool that is a must for a small coop, in order to know what adjustments are necessary.
    I purchased an indoor/outdoor battery operated thermometer/hygrometer and keep the "outdoor" sensor in the coop, next to the roost, so that I can monitor things from my house. It also records temperature maximums and minimums, which is helpful. I also have a separate thermometer/hygrometer in the coop so that I can check on the temp. when i'm out there--and to verify the reading of the other thermometer. Overkill? Perhaps. [​IMG]

    Rather than use a heat lamp, I have an outdoor heating pad (the waterproof type used for dog houses) on the floor of my small, uninsulated coop (about the size of yours), ready to go on if the temperature drops below freezing. It has a thermostatic control that prevents it from getting hotter than 102 degrees--about the body temp. of a chicken. That isn't to say that the entire coop heats to that extent--it just throws enough heat to keep things above freezing and to create a zone where my girls might feel more comfortable. There are also radiant heat panels available that can be mounted on a wall, etc. These are more safety-conscious methods of providing heat that you may wish to investigate.
    Also, the thing to keep in mind is that proper ventilation is still necessary--even more so--when you are using a heating source. The heat will promote evaporation of any moisture or humidity, and that water vapor (along with the vapor from the chickens' breath) needs to escape so that an unhealthy, humid environment isn't created.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2011
  10. gmayberry

    gmayberry In the Brooder

    Aug 26, 2011
    Thanks to everyone who replied.
    When I was growing up I worked on the neighbors farm. An experience I'll never regret.
    They kept around forty chickens (white legherns) pronounced "leg horns" where I come from, in a coop that was probably 30' x 20'. There was no heat and no vaseline on the combs.
    But as I remember the chickens did very well.
    I think now that the lady of the house watched over the flock and we were stuck with cleaning out the coop in the spring etc. The less desireable functions.
    I am graitful for everyone's replies and advice since keeping my own birds is a new experience for me.
    I don't plan on providing any heat unless it gets below 0 degrees which doesn't happen very often here.
    At least not for an extended period of time.
    Again, Many Thanks

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