With freezing temperatures and bone chilling winds the winter can be tough for chickens. There are many opinions and reasons on whether or not to heat your chicken coop for the winter. Before you decide whether or not a heat lamp is right for your coop you should ask yourself some questions. Questions like;
- What are the lowest temperatures and winter conditions where I live? Chickens can typically handle low temperatures pretty well but there extremities such as their waddles, combs, and feet are at risk of frostbite with high wind chills and freezing temperatures. What breed you raise also makes a difference which leads to the next question.
- What breed of chickens do I have? Different breeds require different care in the winter. I have leghorns and they have large combs and waddles making them higher risk for frostbite. Breeds such as Ameraucanas, Ancona, Black Australorps, Black Giant, Blue Andalusian, Brahma, Buff Orpingtons, Cochins, Delaware, Dominique, Langshan, New Hampshire, Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Red, Russian Orloff, Speckled Sussex and Wyandottes are cold hardy winter birds according to the Tractor Supply Co and they handle the colder weather better.
- Is egg production in the winter important? Chickens lose daylight during the winter and typically will molt and halt production because they need 10 hours of daylight to continue normal egg production.
- What are the risk and the can I afford the extra cost? Heat lamps should be used with extreme caution. A 250 watt heat lamp puts off a lot of heat and if to low in your coop, it can cause harm to your chickens. Also, if you are using straw for the bedding there is the risk of fire. When it comes to cost it will vary depending on what watt you use, how many lamps you use, and for how long you have them turned on. You can count on anywhere from a $10-$40 increase in your electric bill.
Whether or not you decide to heat your coop it is important to make sure you have proper ventilation. A dry chicken is a happy chicken! Poor ventilation can create moisture which increases your chances of frostbite and disease. There are high levels of ammonia gases in their droppings and if it is not changed regularly it can create moisture and hurt your chicken’s respiratory system. Stay tuned for my next blog on an inexpensive DIY heat source that creates heat safely.