Q: Should I heat my chicken coop in the winter?
A: We don't recommend you heat your coop unless your temps regularly drop well below freezing... Seriously! Chickens adapt to the cold weather over time. Their body metabolism actually changes along with the seasons. When you heat your coop, the birds will never get used to the colder outside temperature -- so if the heat were to accidentally cut out causing a sudden change in temperature, you could lose your entire flock overnight. We've seen it happen.
ALSO, heated coops can catch on fire! We've heard from customers who have had this happen, and even one of our employees suffered a devastating chicken coop fire started by a heat lamp.
(See? Here's an Easter Egger enjoying the out-of-doors in winter!)
Heat lamps can reach in excess of 435°, and are especially dangerous
250-watt, infrared heat lamps can put out 435° plus temperatures, making them an especially dangerous way to heat your coops and brooder, because they're dusty places to begin with, and bedding is quite flammable. If you must use a heat lamp, double and triple check that you are not creating a fire hazard with your heat lamp.
If you live in a really cold climate, there are a few precautions you can take
(Read more about how to win winter in this great blog post: 8 things NOT to do when preparing your flock for winter.)
- Protect combs and wattles from frostbite by rubbing on petroleum jelly or another heavy moisturizer every few days.
- Make sure the water supply does not freeze! Chickens cannot live long without fresh water. If you don't have electricity in your coop to heat your water, try bringing the waterer into your house every night, and returning it outside every morning. Check the water once or twice a day to make sure it's not frozen.
- Make sure your coop is ventilated, but not drafty. The ventilation will keep the air dry, which will go a long way toward protecting from frostbite.
All that said, if your area regularly sees temps below freezing, you may indeed need to give your flock a little heat boost to help them through the winter--and for that, there's nothing better than the safe, energy-efficient Sweeter Heater, the low-wattage Cozy Coop Heater or Thermo-Peep Heated Pad!