Chickens and cold weather

For folks worried about their chickens and cold weather:

We use no heat, there is a lot of ventilation (and in fact, there are drafts but not blowing directly on the birds) and we lose no birds at all. In fact, our Narragansett turkeys prefer to roost on the metal roof of the coop, even on the -18 night! Yes, we try to convince them to stay in the coop but they choose not to.

Turkeys in a snowstorm

Even in severe weather, the turkeys choose to sleep outside. None have died from the bitter cold temperatures.

If a bird does indeed die (it has yet to happen from the cold), their genes are not really those we want to keep spreading amongst our flock. We have selectively bred the weakest or aggressive birds out of our flock and chose breeds such as Americauna because they have very little wattles and combs, Cochin, because they are cold hardy, friendly, and have a ton of feathers, Buff Orpington because they are hardy, friendly and often go broody. So the majority of our birds have no combs or wattles, have the cheek and neck feathers of Americauna, lots of feathers including the feet, and because we also bred a Polish in, poofy feathers on their heads. The majority of our hens go broody, often multiple times a year. Our flock seems to be very hardy and does absolutely fine in the cold. Most are very friendly and the 3 roosters don’t attack either. That may be because they saw the aggressive one meet the chicken plucker and they are on good behavior though.

coop ventilation

Lots of ventilation for the chicken coop. Note the lack of combs and wattles, heavy feathering, and feathered cheeks, throats, and legs.

Remember, no heat at all except to keep the water from freezing and we have not lost a single bird. To keep the water from freezing we use the metal heated base for the metal watering fount. It is possible. We love our birds but choose not to love them to death by providing something that is potentially dangerous, deadly, and could be devastating if the coop, garage, or house caught fire.

If you actually think for a minute; how did the ancestors of the birds you have live without electricity? If they hadn’t your birds would not be here. I will admit, SOME breeds may need some heat because we as humans have short circuited the surviveability of the breed by, well, breeding the surviveabilty out. As a whole, humans don’t do any favors for any animal species. Don’t continue that trend…

Snow in the chicken coop

The chicken coop may have a slight draft during severe winter storms. But the roosts are not near the draft.

Before considering using those dangerous heat lamps, remember the bulbs are from China and the adhesive they use WILL fail. The hot bulb just falls into the bedding. The bedding may catch fire but even worse are the bare filament wires now exposed to dust, water droplets, feathers, etc. If you don’t think the dust and the filament are a bad combination, research flour mill explosions. An atmosphere with enough dust and a source of flame will explode. Granted, your house or coop may not be sent flying but a small explosion around flammable bedding is a bit concerning. Also, improper wiring causes the cord to heat up because those bulbs use an immense amount of electricity. Improper sized extension cords (if you read the instructions they recommend not using them…) will heat up and burn.

I am a pretty clever and safe guy that used to use those lamps after spending a few hours ensuring everything was safe and secure. Until I decided to unplug it because the chicks at that time were old enough to not need it. An hour later I walked in the room to see the glass portion sitting in the bedding! The adhesive failed. I threw it away and bought a Sweeter Heater and will never go back.

Place a call to your insurance company and ask their opinion. I am willing to bet they would have something to say about those heaters. They would probably also tell you you may not be covered if you used one.


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