Chickens in cold climates
Those of you that have chickens in areas where it freezes, what do you do to keep them happy and producing? I am uncomfortable running power for heat lamps to the barn where they are for a myriad of reasons. I was thinking about building them a smaller insulated roosting area within the coop. Would it be a waste of time? Do they just adapt to the cold weather just like all the other animals?
Around here, where it can get to -40F at times, chickens need insulated coops and if it's really cold they need a heated coop otherwise their toes freeze off. I have seen many chickens around here with no toes, yes, they seem to adapt to having no toes though!
I too am uncomfortable with heat lamps left on in the barn or coop for winter use. (They are great for short term type of stuff though.)
My winters often go below zero temp wise and the ground stays frozen for months.
I kept that in mind when choosing my hearty heritage chicken breeds. I do not have to do a whole lot for them for winter… deep bedding (leaves and shavings) help, using large wooden perches instead of anything metal, and of course a non-freeze water system is about as fussy as I have needed to get.
Mine are allowed to roam the barn and pasture as they desire and unless the snow is really deep, I don’t even shovel paths for them and they all adapt and do great.
A friend has a small insulated stand alone coop and uses the red lamp in there. If there's a fire, she may lose the chickens and the building but not her barn. With our long cold winters it's not really feasible to over winter chickens. A brood lamp is a very inefficient source of heat so the cost for electricity soars.
Chickens can stay happy in pretty cold weather!
Heat will not "keep them producing" .. Lights are necessary for that. They have to have so many hours of light.
But having said that, they are living beings and to remain healthy, alive, and producing for more than 1 or 2 seasons, their bodies need the break.
If you want to push production all year .. they'll have to be under lights..
insulated coop, deep fluffy bedding, and yes heat lamps. There are many ways to make lamps safer to use and avoid fires.
For us in alberta, where -20 as daily high is the norm in winter, lamps are a must. I cant stand the idea of my poor chickens having missing toes or combs. poor little birds.
I have a fully insulated coop and a red heat lamp with a smoke detector in the coop.
The coop was intentionally built away from fences, other buildings, etc... so if it should catch on fire, nothing but it will burn.
My chickens lay more in Winter than in Summer. They don't like the heat and they do love being able to snuggle up in a cozy coop whenever they'd like.
I have a stand alone, insulated coop for my chickens and I use a heat lamp for the winter months plus a heated water bowl. It's just too darn cold for them otherwise. Also, we have a south facing window in the coop. The hens lay through the winter with this setup. As well as natural light and good feed (I use a mixture of home grown wheat and 17% laying hen ration), I think it's very important to have water available 24/7 to keep them laying.
We plan on building a new coop in a couple of years and I'm seriously thinking about going solar for that one.
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