The temp is due to drop into the single digits tonight and 5 to 7 inches of snow is predicted for Friday night and Saturday, the first major storm of the season. I went out to the coop at sundown and unplugged the heat emitter and plugged in the oil radiator. The heat emitter can only raise the coop temperature 10 degrees, so it isn’t enough when the temps drop into the single digits Fahrenheit. A person with a bigger flock wouldn’t have to worry, but I have only four sadly molting hens in a fair-sized coop, and supplemental heat is necessary.
I’ve had them cooped up for some weeks now. I have opened the pop door on warmer days when the temperature gets in the 40sF, but they tended to come out for short periods and then go back inside to warm up. I run the 250 watt ceramic heat emitting bulb most days and will gradually run it less and less as they get more plumage. By late January, they will be outside on sunny days in the teens when they are fully feathered again!
Inside the coop I’ve been giving them more and more layers of “chicken straw” to spread around the coop floor. It insulates the floor which is quite cold because the coop is up on brick footings to discourage vermin. The oil radiator is up on bricks as well. It has no open flame or heating coil, but it’s never a good idea to have something hot too close to something flammable!
I won’t close up the north side vents until the temperature drops down into the low double digits and single digits consistently. Air circulation is really important in the closed up winter coop because the birds give off so much moisture when they breathe. If the “wet” air doesn’t circulate out of the coop, the birds can become damp. A damp bird is a cold bird, and a cold wet bird becomes a sick bird very quickly.
I’ll also sleep better tonight knowing that my girls are cozy even during a bitterly cold night. You stay warm, too! Begonia