The Chicken Lady Checks In

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March 17, 2010 at 10:52 am

Just wanted to provide some updated info since my story is running this story again. This winter the hens stayed in their coop. They did not move to the greenhouse. I always worried about the impact of the temperature fluctuations in the greenhouse. On a sunny day, it can get pretty warm in there. They were fine in their coop. I did use a 60 watt light bulb during the day because my coop is very dark. My hens do not like to go about in the snow, and so they spent much of their time in their coop. Also, on really cold days, and we had quite a few this winter, I did not even open their door. The light bulb helped to keep water from freezing on milder winter days. I also have a 250 watt red heat lamp bulb purchased at a local hardware store with a special light fixture designed for high wattage. I used it on single digit nights. I am not saying this is the right thing to do. Most people will tell you it is not necessary. I only have two birds and my coop is not well insulated so I worry. 5 birds can provide group warmth. Two birds face more of a challenge when it is near 0. Some people say it is dangerous to use a heat lamp due to the possibility of fire. I double check that the light is secure before I turn it on and sleep fitfully. By the way, any light used at night must be red. White light disturbs their sleep patterns and they get cranky. Every coop, every site, every owner and every breed of chicken is slightly different. Ask around and find a winter method that will work for you. I have a friend whose coop is in her garage with outside access through a window. I think that is a great set-up for winter although I imagine heat is a problem in the summer. I suppose the best method is to really research coop design and plan for great insulation.

Also, two new local resources I discovered this winter…
Backyard Chicken Run is the first. John Emrich will make home deliveries of organic chicken supplies.

Secondly, Jen Murtoff runs Home To Roost, an urban chicken consulting service. Jen is not a vet, but she is very knowledgeable and can help in many ways. j.murtoff@sbcglobal.net. She has experience with many breeds of fowl and that can be tricky to find in Chicago without spending a fortune.

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One Comment

  1. David Hammond says:

    “Some people say it is dangerous to use a heat lamp due to the possibility of fire. I double check that the light is secure before I turn it on and sleep fitfully.”

    See, that’s exactly why I shied away from keeping hens. I had fitful sleep over three kids. Your birds are lucky to have such a concerned and attentive parent.

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