Should I Heat My Chicken Coop?
One of the most intimidating things a new chicken owner can face is their first winter. I know before I ever kept chickens, my biggest concern was wondering how they can survive bitter Michigan winters. Let me share some of the things I have learned after keeping chickens in sub 0 temperatures.
To heat or not to heat: This is arguably the most argued question regarding chickens in cold weather. Generally, if you have standard size fowl or even most bantam varieties, they can survive in VERY cold temperatures. My bantam orpingtons and rhode island reds will spend half the day outside when the temperatures are in the single digits and the wind is howling at 30 mph. I have never heated any of my coops, and I have never had any problems. As a wise chicken lady once told me... "They do come wrapped in their own down comforter, you know?". Still, others argue that the chickens are more comfortable if they have at least some sort of heat to take the edge off the bitter cold. I cannot say for sure if the chickens would be happier if they had heat, but none of mine have ever seemed bothered by the lack of it. We have VERY happy chickens.
Here is a small table of the pros of heating vs the pros of not heating:
|The Pros of Heating||The Pros of Not Heating|
The decision to heat your coop is up to you, but for me the benefits of heating my coops just do not outweigh the cost and risk to my flock. I have read too many sad stories on chicken forums where people have lost their entire flocks.
If you do decide to heat your coop, please do everything to make sure your electrical and heating components are as safe as possible. Never rely on spring clips to hand a light. Never use heat tape for ANYTHING in a chicken coop. Be safe!