Silkies For Sale – 9/24/17

How To Winterize a Chicken Coop Built From a Kit

20170919_130948.jpg     It is never too early to start thinking about winterizing your coop.  Most coops fall into two groups. One type of coop is made from existing buildings such as part of a barn or an ice house.  DIY coops could be put in this category too as they were all probably insulated when they were built.

The other group of coops are the kind that are built from a coop kit.  You can order these kits online or purchase them at DYI big box stores.  They turn out to be cute, little coops that hold less than 10 chickens.

The problem is that these coops do not come insulated.  You may have bought them in the spring when it was warm and now we are headed towards winter.  What can be done to them to help them remain a cozy home for all your birds?

The first thing that comes to mind is insulation.  I would suggest using reflective insulation.  You can easily measure, cut and attach the insulation using a staple gun or with spray contact adhesive.  Just cover the sides and the ceiling of your coop with the reflective insulation and tape the seams with aluminum foil tape.

I have found that the chickens do not pay a whole lot of attention to the shininess of the insulation.  They will, however, peck at the pink insulation or the styrofoam  insulation and eat it as well.  That is why I do not recommend using that kind. The birds have never pecked at the silver insulation and it has worked well for us.

Make sure that there is adequate ventilation across the top part of the coop.  You do not want drafts at the bottom where the silkies sleep, but you do want there to be air exchange inside of the coop.  Moisture build up is not good for the birds and causes respiratory issues.  If you see a frost build up inside the coop on the walls and doors, then you need to have the windows opened wider.

I would also suggest wrapping the run in clear plastic.  The plastic cuts down the sharp, cold wind inside the run and keeps the snow out.  Silkies do not like walking on the snow.  You want your birds to have fresh air, so I don’t wrap all of the run.  Make sure you do the north and the west side as that is where the winds are the strongest. I do not wrap the door.  When spring comes, take down the plastic and save it for next fall.

You will need some way to keep the water dish from freezing.   Some people use heated dog bowls.  We use heated bases with galvanized metal waterers on top.  You will need to run aheavy duty electrical cordout to the coop to run either of these water options.

Chickens generate a lot of body heat when they are together.  Silkies tend to huddle up together to keep each other warm.  Heat is also generated from the heated water bases.  If your coop is small, this should be enough to keep things warm.20170919_131219

I do not think it is healthy for a chicken to go from hot to cold temperatures every time they go out in the run.  Both places should be about the same temperature. If you use the insulation and the heater bases, these small coops should be warm even with a small number of chickens.

For tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our Chicken Learning Center at .  VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul.  We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available.  Like us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.

Victoria J. Peterson


Silkies For Sale – 9/18/17

Heat Lamp Use at VJP Poultry – 12/20/16

20161123_120428    Now that the weather is getting colder, I have a lot of VJP Poultry customers asking me about using heat lamps in their coops. People are concerned that their silkies will not be able to stand the cold of a Minnesota winter.

My use of heat lamps has changed dramatically since I started raising silkies seven years ago.  I used to worry that my silkies would die from exposure. I had 250 Watt heat lamp bulbs hanging in every color pen the entire winter. Some even had two hanging in them.  My electric bill was crazy. I kept the windows open only a crack and tried to raise the temps as high as I could inside.

After seven years of experience , I now rarely turn on the heat lamps in my outside coops. The silkies are fine. They actually are very winter hardy. They have a small comb so you don’t need to deal with frostbite issues. They aren’t fond of snow but they do love to go out into their runs no matter what the temperature. What is cold for a human is not cold for them. Think about all of the woodland birds. They do just fine in the cold Minnesota winter.

I have one 250 Watt heat lamp above each waterer just in case it gets really cold. I did have them all on during the spell of -40 windchill. They shouldn’t be thought of as a way to heat an entire room. They only heat what is directly below them. If it gets to be around -10 I will flip the heat lamps on. My waterers are heated a different way (from below) so I don’t need the heat lamps unless it is super cold and the water is staying frozen.

I do use heat lamps in my baby chick room. I like to use the lower 125 watt bulbs. They are not as hot and not as expensive to run. I will use a heat lamp over the newborns and the one week olds  I don’t always use it over the two week old, but I could if I needed to. The chicks are in a small room off of my garage. The room is not heated with central air, so I also use a standing space heater to keep the entire room warm during January.

I am very aware that heat lamps must be hung securely. I use chains and wire so I can adjust the distance down to the brooder. I do not rely on the clamps that come with them. Heat lamps that are not secure and fall can easily start a fire. Make sure that the hoods are wiped clean of dust and that you also blow out the outlets with an air hose.

Heat lamp bulbs gradually become less strong the longer you have used them.  You are still paying for the same amount of electricity from the 250 Watt  bulb, but you are not receiving the same amount of heat the longer you continue to use it. When I feel that its not as strong anymore, I generally switch it out for a new bulb.  I don’t want the surprise of it burning out when I really need it over newborn chicks. The 125 Watt bulbs are harder to find so we order ours online.

Remember, it is not the lack of heat that can cause issues with silkies in the winter. It is the moisture present in the coop. If you are seeing frost on your doors or walls, it is a sign that there is too much moisture and not enough ventilation.  Open the windows, but keep the drafts off of the sleeping birds. I use pillow cases stuffed with old T-shirts and place them in front of the pop holes to block the drafts on the floor.

Electricity from heat lamps can be costly. One 250 Watt heat lamp costs about 90 cents a day to run. Add a space heater and that would be an additional $1.80 a day to run.

At VJP Poultry, we use heat lamps as sparingly as possible. They are necessary for young chicks in the first few weeks of life. Make sure they are hanging securely and change out the bulbs when they start losing their heat. They can be a useful part of your breeding program.

An alternative to heat lamps brooder heat plates. There is less of a chance of fire with these.  You can also use the sweeter heaters that are hung from a chain above the chicks. This would be a more secure way of doing it.

For tips and tricks for raising outstanding silkies check out our Chicken Learning Center at .  VJP Poultry is an NPIP and state inspected hatchery located 30 miles north of St. Paul.  We hatch out silkies all year long so we always have stock available.  Like us on Facebook to get weekly updates on what we currently have for sale.

Victoria J. Peterson

VJP Poultry newborns 4

Silkies For Sale – 10/19/16