Heat or no heat?

Discussion in 'Coops, Runs and Housing' started by ba13, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. ba13

    ba13 New Member

    16
    0
    0
    This is my first time having chickens. I am wondering what to do about heat during the winter. I have three ladies who seem to be doing fine with nothing right now, but I live in Wisconsin , it's gonna get coooooold. The advice I've gotten has been all over the place, and both these people claimed the roosters they sold me hens. Confidence level low. Suggestions ? Thanks.
     
  2. toybarons

    toybarons I luv Polish & Houdans

    137
    0
    0
    I'm in Alberta, Canada around Edmonton which is one of the northern cities of my country. It can get as cold as -30C which is around -20F. Very cold. When I first began with chickens over 10 years ago, my thought was insulate that coop and keep it warm, warm, warm. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I found I lost birds by trying to be kind.

    Chickens need a coop that is free of drafts. Drafts can kill a chicken faster than what the cold itself can. That's because chickens have their own insulation, their feather and down. My birds can tolerate -10C [15 F] pretty well.
    When it gets colder we then switch on heat lights. These are just regular heat lights you would use to provide heat for your chicks. You should take steps to secure the lights. You don't want the chickens to come into direct contact with them incase the knock the lights to the ground as they can start a fire. Another reason is a chicken can burn their comb if it comes in contact with the bulb.

    I know some people who use heaters to heat the coop. This may seem like a good idea at first, but if you do you need to be prepared for a back up. If you have a power failure in the middle of the night, your birds will be exposed to cold. Even a brief time in severe cold can cause a bird to become sick and devlope a CRD. In my opinion, by allowing your birds to adjust to the cold it makes them 'cold hardy' and actually benefits the birds in the long run.

    Other things you can provide them to help in keep them warm is using good bedding material on the floor. You will want to make it deep. Straw is good and is cost affordable. It does need to be cleaned by being turned once a week. If it becomes heavily soiled, you may opt to change it out completely. I prefer to use wood shavings or chips. Not only does it provide insulation but it keeps the coop smelling good. You can also layer it up by spreading a fresh chips every week.

    If you use roosts, make sure the roosts are wide enough so when the birds nest they will actual lay on their feet. Prevents the toes from frostbite.

    I use boxes on the coop floor and I keep them near the inner walls of the coop. On cold nights, my birds will go into them and hundle. The smaller space the box provides + the bird's body heat = warmth.

    Even with all that, there are going to be times the cold is going to effect a bird and they will not be able to get warm. Times like that, I just bring the bird in. I keep a couple of large kennels just for that. Let the bird warm up and stablize. Then during the day, I just return the bird back to their coop.
     

  3. kahiltna_flock

    kahiltna_flock New Member

    839
    0
    0
    I can tell you that many people up here in Alaska don't heat. I wasn't planning to but I may cave. I have a 100w bulb in the coop over their water now to help it not freeze up so fast. It is still only 20-25 in the coop. Some do heat. My worries are if we loose power for an extended time they wouldn't be acclimated. Lots to consider.
     
  4. toybarons

    toybarons I luv Polish & Houdans

    137
    0
    0
    We built heated bases for our water towers. It's more for the convience so you don't have to haul water three times a day when it's really cold. You can buy heated bases but they are expensive. We just built a base with a light buld at the bottom and sit the water tower on top. All we use is a 40 watt bulb. Unless temps really drop to -30C, a 40 watt bulb will keep the water from freezing. If it does freeze up, we just change the bulb to a 60watt.
     
  5. kahiltna_flock

    kahiltna_flock New Member

    839
    0
    0
    We have a oil pan heater under a block that the water dish sets on. That works till about 0*F then it starts freezing. So now that it's been below 0 we added the light. I may put a red heat light when our high temps are still below 0*. We will see how they deal. I will probably just leave them shut in the coop on those days.
     
  6. CharlieEcho

    CharlieEcho Junior Member

    106
    0
    0
    Never have;

    We have never provided inside the coop heat for our chickens. We have only recently provided heated waterers. Just since building a new hen house and having electricity now. We keep the concrete floor well covered with straw and keep it dry. Of course the chicks receive special attention and warmth, even in the basement the first week or two. But different birds may have special needs.

    Both our grandparents raised chickens and sold eggs. Neither had heated hen houses or water heaters. It was a daily thing to keep fresh water to the chickens. I'm glad we have the heated waterers. We just make sure the bedding is there and they have a place to get out of the weather. The chickens will spend more time inside the barn on a dirt and straw floor once it gets real cold. The coop is more of a place to spend the night.

    A picture of my grandpa and uncle 1950. Note the coops in the background. Grandpa raised a lot of roosters and meet birds.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. TheLazyL

    TheLazyL Member

    267
    0
    16
    No heat and no drafts in my coop.

    In the run I do have a "pie pan" heater under the waterer to keep the water unfrozen.


    How did chickens survive all these centuries without men putting them in heated coops?