The Chicken Chronicles
November 20, 2014
Whew! What an interesting week! Winter has arrived! As first time chicken owners in the winter, we are learning a lot, not the least of which is how to care for the birds in the bitter cold. We have received some low-teen temperatures this week, which I felt were cold enough to warrant supplemental heating. The challenge is doing that safely.
After much reading, I decided to use a red heat lamp – the same lamp I used to keep the birds warm when they were too small to handle the cold. I have read many comments against this method, mainly because of the fire risk, but also because of the potential of causing sickness in the birds if they go from hot to cold temperatures. I felt confident the light was secured, and it was far enough away from the birds I felt it would not allow them to get hot. The truth is, I didn’t think it was making enough difference, so we added a second red heat lamp.
My intent with this was not to heat the coop, it was simply to knock the chill off. I don’t really want to raise the temperature even above freezing, but just up above the 25 degree mark. I am reckoning that will allow them to not suffer from extreme temperature changes.
Even with all that in mind, there are many blog and forum posts out there of folks who are a lot further north than I am, yet they do not heat their coops. Their coops are well insulated, but no heat. That surely makes me question if I am making the right choice.
All that said, I have only heated the coop a few nights now, but I already have lessons learned.
- This must be used judicially. The birds do not need a sauna.
- A better option is a well-insulated (and yet well-ventilated) coop.
- These birds are resilient. They can handle colder temperatures than I thought.
- Water, water, water. The birds must have water, not ice!
- Finally, I may not continue this plan.
Whether I continue or not remains to be seen. I need some more time, and I need to get the coop insulated. In the absence of insulation, I have to provide, or at least I feel I have to provide, supplemental heating on nights below 20 degrees.
As you can see, I still have lots to learn and decisions to make.
As if that is not enough change for the week, I am also dealing with a dramatic reduction in egg production. Wow. The Rhode Island Reds laid 22 eggs, but the Easter Eggers only laid 10!
Never a dull moment, that is for sure.
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