Winterized the coop - Have a few questions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by midget_farms, Nov 15, 2008.

  1. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    Today I winterized. I finally wired the coop for lights (2). I have 5 hens total. 2 were too young to start laying before the days got short & just recently 2 others stopped laying. That leaves me with about 1 egg per day. I want 5. So I added the lights.

    Question 1 - How much light is too much? I've read about people having lights on timers etc. I don't, they are on or off. I figure I'll leave them on until spring when it gets warmer and the days are longer. Any thoughts?

    I also covered two of the vents to try to keep some heat inside.

    I also added a pipe heater to the perch to keep their feet warm in when it drops below freezing.

    Question 2 - Since this heater is just an electric wire wrapped around the perch & it is on a thermostat do you think it will be too hot for them? I don't think these things get that hot, they just keep the pipe from freezing.
  2. LittleChickenRacingTeam

    LittleChickenRacingTeam On vacation

    Jan 11, 2007
    Ontario, CANADA
    With lights on all the time, you may encounter problems with the birds picking feathers.

    The heat tape is not a good idea. The birds may peck at it, or cut it open with their feet. This could pose a fire or electrocution hazard. If you have a flat 2x4 roost, they will be able to keep their feet covered & warm with their feathers.

  3. austinhart123

    austinhart123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2008
    Los Angeles CA
    they should have no more than 12 hours of light
  4. countrygoddess

    countrygoddess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Last year was my first winter as a chicken owner in Vermont and it went very well. Here is what I did:

    First off, here is an intro to my set-up. My chicken house is home to 6 girls and is about 5wx5dx7h. It sits on stilts so that the floor is about 1 foot above the ground and the floor is hardware cloth with a thick layer of straw over it. When I originally made the house, I insulated it with some bubble wrap/foil-type stuff I got at Home Depot. It's only about 1/4" thick and easy to tack up--I put luonn over it so it wouldn't be pecked and plucked at, plus it looks nicer and works better if it is trapped between two layers. The ceiling has a layer of 3/4" foam board insulation under luonn.

    I almost put a layer of plywood over the hardware cloth but then decided not to. I'm glad I didn't because it allowed for good air circulation in there. There are two windows in the house, both of which are just hardware cloth during the warmer months. I almost made plexiglass windows to install over the hardware cloth, but again, I'm glad I didn't. Instead, I stapled heavy gauge plastic over the openings. I think windows would have made the house too tight, causing health problems with the chickens.

    I suspended a heat lamp inside the house from a corner and ran an extension cord into the garage, which is about 10 feet away, then put that on a timer (this year, my husband ran electricity out there for both the light as well as my electric fence). I set the timer so that they would have 12 hours of light/day. To help keep some warmth in the house after the light went off, I made sure to close the door at least an hour before lights out, and once I pulled up the electric fence--when the snow got too deep for it to work anymore--I was shutting the door at sunset.

    I also fed my girls some cracked corn just before I shut the door. I read that if you give them protein just before bedtime it helps them to stay warm. I knew that they hunker down over their tootsies, so I wasn't worried about that.

    Except for the very nasiest of snowy days, my girls wanted to be outside so I dug out a pit in the snow around the front of their house and lined it with straw--they seemed to like it better when they didn't have to stand right on the snow. I threw down some scratch for them and they were happy as clams. It worried me that they were out there without fencing, though, so I threw up some chicken wire. As the snow melted I had to readjust it down, but it seemed to work okay.

    This year I'm going to do something about their water because I did have a slight problem with it freezing. I had to go out everyday and put warm water in their waterer. I think I'll try something I read where you put down a cinder block with a simple light socket and bulb inside it. You then set the water down on top of the cinder block. Evidently, the bulb keeps the water just warm enough not to freeze. It's worth a try...

    Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to share what I--a true chicken amateur! :) --did. It really worked. My girls stayed happy and healthy, their combs remained intact, and best of all, I collected 5-6 eggs every day all winter long (except when I didn't get out there soon enough on super cold days and the eggs froze--the two nesting boxes are attached to the outside of the chicken house with a lid I can lift for access. The girls have access from the inside via two large openings).

  5. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm a newbie too and very lucky with our first birds. We also have a timer, lights come on at about 5 am and go out at 8 am. We're getting 12 eggs nearly every day from 12 26-week old golden comets. Birds get outside every day so by 8 am I don't have to worry about additional light. We have a heated waterer with a guard on the cord.

    I wouldn't use heater tape close to birds, ever. Not only do you have the chance of burns, but they will peck at it and could get electrocuted and/or start a fire. The only place we use heater tape is on our barn water supply, and it's fully enclosed in a fibreglass-insulated box.

    I think yu will be pleasantly surprised at how well your birds do, so long as they have roosts min. 4" wide to warm their feet. A platform serves the same purpose if large enough. All comments supported by pics in the link below.

    Happy wintering with your birds![​IMG]
  6. cajunlizz

    cajunlizz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    Lafayette, Louisiana
    Quote:I heard 14 hours and should be only added in mornings ... NOT AT NIGHT .

    So , I am thinking if light is added , maybe put on timer for lights to come on say 4:30 AM til maybe around 7:00ish
  7. countrygoddess

    countrygoddess Chillin' With My Peeps

    can't remember the timing for last year exactly, but i think i set the timer for lights on at 7-ish, off again at 7 or 8. or maybe even 9--seems like it was on after the kids were in bed... birds were happy and laid all winter with that.
  8. cajunlizz

    cajunlizz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    Lafayette, Louisiana
    Quote:You mean this 7:00 to 9:00ish of being at night ?
    If so , .... Light needs to be added EARLY in the mornings , SAY 4:00 AM and left on until daylight hits good , say 8:00 AM .

    If not , it confuses their internal clocks . They GO in to roost and sleep as DUSK . they really do not need the light for them if its to add more daylight hours for them to continue laying . NOW , if its added for heat , different type of light needs to be added .

    I am sure PAT or someone else will ADD their knowledge on this . I never have to really worry aout heat in my coops , whether it be from LIGHT or heating .

    BUT , as strange as these temps are getting this year , WHO KNOWS what will happen temp wise .

    We been about 20ยบ cooler at night since early OCT. compared to previous years . We never get temps in 30's until after Thanksgiving or mid Dec. BUT we have been in the 30's for 2 days now and temps way below normal or next week as well .
  9. countrygoddess

    countrygoddess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:No, sorry, I didn't make myself clear. I set the light to come on at around 7 a.m. and go off at around 9 at night. I had the light on in there all day when it was really, really cold out so they would have a warm place to go after they'd been out in the snow (it was a heat lamp suspended from the ceiling). With their door open and the ventilation thru the floor and around the stapled-on plastic over the windows, it didn't get hot in there. Just comfortable. This time of year we only have the light on starting late in the day and off again a few hours later because they are outside in the daylight the rest of the time. Their internals clocks never seem to have been confused by our method of extending their days.
  10. vttoad05452

    vttoad05452 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 19, 2008
    Essex, VT
    In our Essex, Vermont coop, we do the same, extending their day from perhaps 4:30 p.m. (EST) to approximately 9 p.m. They're out all summer and into the fall, and are used to not going to roost until well after 8:30 p.m. some nights. We were told 16 hours of light, and to supplement whenever that wasn't the case. That would mean lights on from 4-7 a.m. AND 4:30-9 p.m. in the winter months.

    We use submersible bucket water heaters in the winter, and love them. We can take them out, rinse them off, refresh the bucket of water or replace the bucket altogether, depending on need. The cord is protected, but the girls never bother it anyway.

    Donna in Essex, VT

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