Yet another cold weather question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by PeJones, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. PeJones

    PeJones New Egg

    Dec 7, 2009
    Hello all. At my home we have 2 bantam hens, a black cochin and a golden seabright. These lovely ladies live in a coop with an upstairs area closed in at 4' long, 2' wide, 2' tall. It can get a little on the chilly side in Kentucky and since there are only 2 tiny little hens it doesn't seem like they would produce much heat. What can we do to keep it comfortable for them in the winter. Currently we just have a 40 watt red bulb in there but it doesn't seem to heat up much. There is not yet insulation but we are thinking about adding some extra walls. What else would you nice people advise for 2 tiny chickens in a chilly winter?

  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    LOTS of bedding material??? If you don't keep a feeder/waterer in there, could you block off part of that 4 ft length?? I'd be wary of putting a heat lamp in a space so low...but maybe you have a really small cone/housing for it??? Or maybe you're just talking a regular red bulb, which will still give off warmth... When/if you do use a lamp, is it aimed toward where they roost? Even though it may not heat up the inside much at all, they'd be able to "bask" in a little heat. Like you said, two little birds won't be able to generate much heat, but at least their space is small (and hopefully tight/draft free)... And of course your ventilation up high, above the roosts??? Happy wintering!
  3. Bwaaak!

    Bwaaak! Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 29, 2009
    Woodinville, WA
    I agree with the other poster that you could block off a portion of your coop. I also have 12 bantams and a few standard breeds and the cold snap here is just horrible. My husband mounted a porcelain topped chicken light to a cross beam (actually just a 2x2) and we experimented with a 100 watt ceramic reptile heat bulb. Our hen tractor is 8 feet long so I dont think it did very well. But in your case, it might just be the ticket to warming your birds with, or at least breaking the chill. The heat bulbs come in white(for light) or black. I got the black one. Those heat bulbs heat objects versus air, from what I read. Oh, and the heat bulbs are much safer, also from what Ive read.

    Because my tractor is large (but only 2+ feet high) I switched to a 100 watter incandescent. Im hoping it takes the edge off the chill. Good luck to you. Barb
  4. gsim

    gsim Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    The coop is tiny already so do not cut size down any. You have 8 sq ft and recommended space for standards is 4 sq ft/bird so even considering that they are banties, you are already pushing it if not over the recommended limit now. It is so short at 2 ft tall that I cannot see how it can be ventilated without creating a draft for them wherever they roost. It has to be ventilated tho no matter what. [​IMG]

    Solution: Find an old blanket or bedspread and fold it to fit the roof. Then cover that with plastic, say two garbage bags. Put some wood strips over all and drive in a few nails around tops of sidewalls. That will hold more heat in than you think. Beyond that, you could do some external insulating on N and maybe W sides of coop as well. It could be the blueboard or pinkboard that you can get at home improvement stores. If using a red heatlamp, then you must have a reflector as well to aim the heat where you want it. Makes the lamp 3 times more effective. [​IMG]
  5. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    First, [​IMG] from MN!

    I'm very very hesitant to recommend a heat bulb in a space this small. I'd worry about them burning themselves on it with the low ceilings.

    Luckily, you're in a relatively mild winter region. This sounds strange, but I've seen this recommended once already this season:
    With such a small space, could you use a jug of really hot water to add some heat to the coop? Put the cap on it tight so it won't spill. I'd try a 2 liter soda bottle since the cap screws on. Fill it with hot water, secure the cap and put it in your coop. They could cuddle up to it if they get chilly. Other than that, I'd make sure the bedding is nice and thick.

    Worth a try.
  6. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    Or try some old Plastic milk jugs of Hot tap water with the lids Screwed on tightly.
    that would raise the heat level, just have to change them out 2 -3 times in 24 hours to keep from Freezing.

    [​IMG] from Alaska
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I believe at least one person may have misread the o.p., as it is 8 sq ft for just TWO hens (both bantams), which is perfectly respectable space.

    First I would suggest insulating, perhaps a *lot*, and include a good depth of bedding they can snuggle down into (this works best with shavings rather than straw or other things).

    Second, as you have only two small hens in a decent bit of space, I would suggest keeping the coop very clean by removing any visible poo daily (easier if you can put a droppings board under the roost), and seeing how little ventilation you can 'get away with'. Yes, this is me saying that [​IMG] - low stocking density in a very clean dry coop does not necessarily *require* much ventilation.

    Third, once you have put in ample insulation (including the ceiling) and all that, you may find that a 40-60w bulb *does* make a significant difference now. In the (IMHO pretty unlikely, but who knows, esp if you are in the mts and it's a cold winter) event you should decide you need more than that, I think would suggest doing whatever it takes to stay AWAY FROM high wattage bulbs. No heat lamp in such a small low space, for a variety of reasons. There are a variety of options available, I have to go feed the kids lunch now so can't go into details but basically it's things like a) several low-wattage bulbs, b) a low wattage panel-type heater, c) a mat type heater, etc.

    Insulate, bed deeply and see how little ventilation you can get away with, though, and you may find they are fine [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

  8. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Yes, what Pat says-I bet that bulb will be plenty in such a small coop, esp. with insulation. You would be surprised at how much cold chickens can handle when they are full grown. It got to 12 degrees here last night, right now it is 18 degrees and they are out in the run scratching around happily. I don't heat my coop. If the small red bulb could keep it above freezing that would be a good point to aim for.
  9. tenderkat

    tenderkat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Regarding the soda or gallon milk jugs. I use these around my plants in the fall at night, as the nights get cooler. From what I understand, as the water in the containers begins to head towards freezing, it releases heat, thus raising the temperature of the surrounding air. I'm curious if I could use these under/around my roost area at night? Like alot of people right now, our night temps are hovering at/below zero, and the days aren't getting much warmer. I have no idea how long it might take the jugs to freeze, but might they help even a bit, even if for a few hours overnight?

    Secondly, in regards to what Pat suggested, "I would suggest keeping the coop very clean by removing any visible poo daily (easier if you can put a droppings board under the roost)." Yesterday, I went out in the coop, and methodically removed all traces of poo I could find. Then, I stirred up the bedding, and added another bale over the top, including the droppings board. I also removed their one gallon plastic waterer, which was frozen solid anyway. I have a 4x8x6 foot coop, and this morning it felt considerably more cozy than the previous several nights. I'm pretty sure that it had to do with the lower humidity in the coop. Even frozen poo must emit some water vapor.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:The latent heat in cold water will not change coop temperature much -- while plants can care a LOT about even just 2-5 degrees F difference, chickenkeepers are usually more interested in making a difference of like 10-20 F difference or more.

    But if you start each night with *hot* water in the jug (replenished each evening from the 'hot' tap in your house), that can potentially make a noticeable difference in a small well-insulated coop, plus (possibly more to the point in some cases) birds can snuggle against it for warmth if they want, without any risk whatsoever of burns or fire.

    So, I think using hot water really has a lot more utility than just cold water like you'd use to keep the frost off tomato plants or whatever... although the jugs of cold (ambient temperature) water really DO do a good job for tomato plants [​IMG]

    JMHO of course,


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