Whether you should – or should not – heat a chicken coop is a topic that just about everybody has an opinion on. You will likely hear arguments from both sides of the debate.
While some people argue that you don’t need to heat the chicken coop, as chickens will produce their own body heat, there are occasions where it might be appropriate to heat your coop.
In this article, we’ll cover those circumstances – and also let you know about the best chicken coop heaters that you should consider.
Here’s what you need to know.
Types of Chicken Coop Heaters
In the past, if you wanted to heat a chicken coop you had to rely on a basic brooder lamp.
These lamps can be quite dangerous, especially when you consider that the chicken coop is filled with dust, moving animals, and other potential hazards.
Today, there are several options when it comes to the style and design of your chicken coop heater.
Flat Panel Heaters
One of the most popular types of heater is the flat panel heater. A flat panel heater eliminates the need for lamp or bulb replacements. It can also save some money in that it only heats the area you need it to.
Just one heater provides plenty of warmth for up to six chickens.
Flat-panel heaters are also easy to install, looking and functioning much like a flat-screen television in that they can be attached to a wall or allowed to stand freely.
Another option is an infrared heater. An infrared heater automatically shuts itself off when the desired temperature is reached.
It can generally be mounted overhead or on the side and offers more energy-efficient heating.
An infrared heater can be quite expensive, ut it often comes with a warranty in order to provide some longevity.
As with a flat panel heater, an infrared heater will only heat a small space.
Oil-Filled Radiator Heaters
Another option is an oil-filled radiator heater.
These often come with digital thermostats and safety switches, the latter of which is nice in case you are worried about a fire hazard in the event of an accidental tip over.
It is less expensive than just about any other type of heater, but it costs more to run it.
You could also use a brooder plate. This is not ideal for adult chickens but instead designed specifically for baby chicks.
A brooder plate is a fantastic alternative to a heat lamp, which presents a fire hazard in a brooder.
These plates offer a natural place under which your baby chicks can gather for warmth.
It’s a lot like huddling under the wings of a mother hen, except you don’t have to worry about the mothering instincts of your chickens!
Finally, you can also use brooder lamps or light bulbs to heat your coop. These are not recommended.
Brooder lamps present a serious fire hazard, particularly when your coop is filled with features, straw, and dust.
They put out much more heat than you actually need, and are not recommended.
Light bulbs, on the contrary, put out small amounts of heat, but they can also present a fire risk. Unless they are extremely well-secured, it’s easy for a light bulb to fall and endanger your chickens.
The 5 Best Chicken Coop Heaters
Here are a few of the best chicken coop heaters that we recommend:
1. Sweeter Heater Infrared Heater
- Safe, energy efficient, indestructible and reliable.
- No hot spots and develops a uniform heat pattern, using less power
- Internal Thermostat that will automatically shut the unit off if heat is not...
The Sweeter Heater Infrared Heater is a great option for chicken coops. This chicken coop heater is a flat panel heater that uses infrared heat to warm up your birds.
The Sweeter Heater can transmit heat to an area as large as 330 square feet, posing no fire or safety hazards to your bird.
The heater consumes only about 100 watts of energy, making it an energy-efficient option.
It offers uniform heating with no concentrated areas that become overheated.
With a mountain system that allows for overhead suspension, this heater even comes with its own chains and hooks.
It’s also backed by a three-year manufacturer warranty to completely put your mind at ease with your purchase.
What We Liked:
- Energy efficient
- Does not have indicator lights to distract your chickens
- Has a mounting system for overhead suspension
What We Didn’t Like:
- Chickens tend to use it as a perch and will poop on it
2. K&H Products Thermo-Chicken Heated Pad
- Use indoors or outdoors
- Low power consumption, 25 watts
- Excellent for peeps and chickens
K&H Products offers a variety of heating products for your chicken coop. This option is by far one of the most unique and also one of the most energy-efficient.
Consuming only about 40 watts of energy, this heater is environmentally friendly as well as friendly to your wallet. It is not likely to rack up high electric bills and is versatile in that it can be installed both outdoors as well as inside
This heated pad can be installed horizontally or vertically, giving you a great deal of flexibility. It has a peck-resistant design that is ideal for coops or runs with lots of curious birds. Its heating mechanism is internally controlled by a high-tech thermostat. This thermostat continues to work well even in sub-zero temperatures.
What We Liked:
- Works for other types of farm animals besides chickens
- Great alternative to heat lamps
- Can be used indoors or outdoors
What We Didn’t Like:
- If left on for too long the heating element can burn the animals
3. Cozy Products CL Safe Chicken Coop Heater
- Safe for chicken coops
- Recommended by the chicken Chick
- Uses Only 200 watts
The Cozy Products CL Safe Chicken Coop Heater is another essential chicken coop heater for you to consider. It consumes roughly 200 watts of electricity, as compared to typical space heaters that can use 2000 watts or more. This unique heater combines the benefits of convection and radiant heat to give you the best overall effect for your birds.
This heater works in a unique manner, transferring heat from one chicken to another as long as they are in close proximity to the heater. It does not warm up the entire room but instead warms any chickens that happen to stand near it.
With one size available, this heater has multiple installation options. It can be fitted to a wall or even lift free-standing. It has no lamps or bulbs, making it easy to use while also reducing the risk of fires. It has a heating pad, too, making it safer than your typical electrical brooder lamp.
The heater maintains a consistent operational temperature of 130 degrees. It weighs only six pounds and stands about 12 inches high. It has an on-off button that is visible and easy to read, allowing for convenient handling. A sleek and stylish theater, it’s matte black design will make your chicken coop look more like a luxurious bachelor pad than a backyard chicken coop!
What We Liked:
- Works almost noiselessly
- Has a sturdy base that is perfect for any chicken coop
- An energy-efficient option
What We Didn’t Like:
- Heating panel can get hot to the touch
4. K&H Pet Products Thermo-Chicken Perch
- No more frozen toes!
- Thermostatically controlled
- Warms entire body utilizing bird's own circulation system
The Thermo-Perch is, without a doubt, one of the most out-of-the-box ways to heat your chicken coop.
A thermostatically controlled perch, this heated bar is perfect for warming up chili chicken feet. Since chickens lose most of their body heat from their feet, this perch allows your birds to warm up by moving heat from the feet to the rest of the body.
Available in different sizes, the perch can be customized based on how many chickens you need to heat. There is a small 26-inch long perch as well as a longer 36-inch long option. The perch has undergone the most rigorous testing in MET laboratories in the United States. It complies with the most intensive safety standards.
What We Liked:
- Safe to the touch
- Available in multiple sizes
- Offers a natural heating mechanism without taking up too much space
What We Didn’t Like:
- Has a tendency to turn off on its own overnight
5. Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder
- Brooder for warming newly hatched chicks or ducklings
- Radiant-heated underside for producing uniform temperature and minimizing power...
- Three adjustable height settings for accommodating various chick sizes
The Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder is a great option for freshly hatched baby chicks. Newborn chickens are at a lower body temperature than adult birds. This heating plate is perfect for the brooder and produces a uniform temperature that will help your chicks during the first weeks of their lives.
As the name implies, this brooder is energy-efficient and requires minimal electricity to operate. Unlike a typical heat lamp that requires about 250 watts of energy, this plate only needs 14 watts to offer the same level of energy.
It has three different height levels so that you can change it up depending on the age of your chicks. It even has an indicator light so that you will know it is working. It has an ultra-long cord for extensive reach. This cord also makes it easier for you to adjust the position of your plate.
With measurements of 12x8x8, this heating plate can accommodate up to 20 chickens at once. An efficient product, it all but eliminates the risk of fire in your chicken brooder.
What We Liked:
- Energy efficient
- Three different height levels
- Heating style mimics the effect of a mother hen
What We Didn’t Like:
- Legs can be a bit wobbly
When Do You Need to Use a Chicken Coop Heater?
There are very few occasions in which a chicken coop heater is actually necessary. After all, chickens are much better at shaking off the cold than humans.
There are precautions you should take first before adding a chicken coop heater.
For example, you should first add some insulation and bedding.
You don’t need to add a ton of insulation to your chicken coop, but you should do your best to eliminate drafts.
Use a little it of foam board or some shredded newspaper to provide a nice, warm environment for your chickens.
The more bedding the better, as it will help with insulation and prevent moisture buildup.
You don’t need to block every single hole into the coop, though. Leaving some ventilation (particularly at the peak of the coop) is recommended so that warm, moist air from your chickens’ breath can exit the coop and cool, dry air can make its way in.
Adding extra bedding can actually help reduce the need for supplemental heat as it will prevent the cold floor from chilling your chickens.
Remember that the smaller the coop, the better – it’s less space that your chickens need to warm with their body heat.
Each chicken will put out a level of warmth equivalent to a 10 watt light bulb! They are able to generate an impressive amount of consistent heat.
You can increase the metabolism of your chickens – and increase the amount of heat they give off – by giving them some snacks at night.
Adding some cracked corn or scratch grains just before bedtime will help raise their body temperature as they process the food.
Once you have guarded your coop against the chilly winter air, take stock of your situation. You may need to add a heater if the following conditions apply.
In preparation for the cooler winter months, chickens molt. During this time, they will produce a new set of feathers that will help keep them warm and insulated.
A chicken has a core body temperature between 105 and 107 degrees (baby chicks’ temperatures are slightly lower).
To keep themselves warm, your chickens will fluff up their feathers to keep warm air against their bodies.
If your chickens have not yet finished the molting process, they may need some supplemental heat during cold snaps.
Most chickens will do an excellent job of maintaining their own temperatures without you needing to do anything else.
However, as with everything in life, there are some exceptions.
Certain breeds have a difficult time staying warm.
Silkies and Frizzles, for example, have unique features that do not sit tight against the skin but instead fluff right out. As a result, it is difficult for their feathers to provide an insulating quality.
Jungle fowl, too, like Malay chickens have a harder time staying warm.
You might notice that these chickens have a difficult time adapting to a cool climate. They were, after all, bred to survive in hot, humid climates.
In general, any fully feathered chicken will be able to handle winter temperatures without heat.
If you have chickens that have just hatched or any birds that are sick or ailing in some way, you may want to add some supplemental heat.
However, if you have young chicks, you will want to consider a coop heater. Chicks need much more heat than adult birds.
At hatching, the body temperature of a chick is much lower than that of an adult.
As a result, a coop heater might be necessary to keep the chicks from becoming hypothermic.
What to Consider When Buying a Chicken Coop Heater
In the market for a new chicken coop heater? Here are some of the factors you should consider.
Without a doubt, safety is the most important concern you need to keep in mind. There are thousands of inexpensive chicken coop heaters out there, but you shouldn’t rush to invest in a cheap product.
When evaluating a chicken coop heater’s safety, consider its electrical components and its durability.
Look for a heater that has bonus features like a tip-over shut-off switch or guards to prevent dust from getting into the heating elements.
When you install your heater, make sure you do so in a way that will not allow your chickens to reach it easily.
The name isn’t all that matters when it comes to the best chicken coop heaters, but it’s a factor.
The more reputable a brand is, the more likely you are to be purchasing a safe, tested machine.
Look for a chicken coop heater with good reviews and skip those that have questionable manufacturers.
You will also want to consider the wattage of your coop heater. Most chicken coop heaters are sold in the range of 100 to 150 watts, which is more than enough to keep your coop toasty.
However, if you have a jumbo-sized coop, you may need to look for a higher wattage machine/
When Heating the Coop is Not Recommended
Heating your chicken coop is a great idea if any of the conditions I mentioned above might apply to your backyard chickens. However, in some cases, a chicken heater might not make sense. Most chickens can do well even in bitterly cold temperatures – even down to zero degrees or less. If you heat the coop, you need to keep in mind that a sudden drop in temperature if the power goes out can cause difficulties with acclimation. These difficulties can lead to death.
In addition, when you heat the coop, you increase the humidity in the coop. If your coop is not adequately ventilated, you may find that your chickens are more prone to frostbite – this is particularly true if you have chickens with large wattles and combs.
As a rule of thumb, you must remember that it is not necessary for you to keep the coop at tropical temperatures. It should not be below freezing, but it doesn’t need to be 65 degrees. Keeping it at less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
Remember, too much what can be just as detrimental as too little! Even when you think it’s downright frigid outside, that doesn’t mean that your chickens are suffering. Heat the coop to the comfort level of your chickens – not necessarily your own comfort level. And remember, your hens are much tougher than you think!
Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API