The coop has been done for a while now, but the weather has been intermittenly cold, rainy and sunny. Mostly cold and rainy. Last Saturday we were even blessed with a few wayward snowflakes. But, back to the point.
The weather in Michigan isn’t always pleasant. Winter starts about now and ends around Mother’s Day. You probably think I’m joking. I’m not. So I’ve been a little worried about what effect the cold weather would have on the girls. I’ve been researching online to see what a safe temperature would be for the chickens. Most everybody suggests that you don’t heat your coop. I believe that it’s probably safe not to heat your coop most of the time. But my girls are just chicks. Well maybe not chicks, but not quite chickens yet either. Chicks in a brooder are supposed to be kept at 100 degrees for a week. After that the temperature can be dropped five degrees each week until they reach a temperature of 70 degrees. Once they hit that 70 degree mark, they shouldn’t require heat anymore. My little girls only just hit the 70 degree mark. The outdoor temperatures at night have been in the 30-40 degree range. I don’t know about you, but if I was comfy at 70 degrees yesterday and you told me I had to be okay with 40 today in the same wardrobe, I might not be very happy.
So, after much discussion, the hubby and I added a light to the coop. We started with a regular 100-watt bulb, but I didn’t like the idea of the girls being subjected to artificial daylight just to stay warm. You see, a hen’s egg-laying is directly connected to the number of hours of daylight she receives. None of the girls are old enough to lay yet, but I don’t want them to be confused about day and night or mess with their future egg production.
In search of something better, we ventured out to the pet store. We spent what seemed like hours looking at the various bulbs and heating systems. We found something we thought would work in the reptile department but after further research abandoned it. Finally we decided on a ceramic heat bulb that didn’t emit any light. (Imagine a ceramic stove burner that screws into a light socket.) It was pricey, but we felt it would be safe and increase the temperature inside the coop significantly. We were wrong.
At $35 bucks, you would expect it to be practically magic. We checked the temperature in the coop and screwed it in. We checked the temperature again. Nothing. So, we waited a few hours and checked again. Still nothing. After a day we decided it wasn’t going to work. Adam went back to the pet store and got the 250 watt red heat lamp instead.
At less than half the price of the infrared ceramic heating unit, the heat lamp was a better deal and worked much better. The inside temperature was nearly ten degrees warmer than the outside temperature! The red bulb still emits some light, but not bright, white daylight so it shouldn’t affect the girls sense of time.
I hadn’t thought about the glow from the coop but a friend of mine walks by the house every morning on her way to work. One day she mentioned how funny the glow of the redlight looked from the street. After some discussion we decided that my house is now in the Redlight District.
We may not leave the light on all winter, but for now it stays on at least at night. Besides, I like calling all the girls “Roxanne” and singing Police songs to them.