Winter is coming and you’re left with several decisions including; deciding whether or not you should get a chicken coop heater because depending on who you consult you may get different answers. You can then start to even decide what kind is the best chicken coop heater for you and your poultry.
Other challenges you’re likely to face is deciding when to use the chicken coop heater and what alternative methods of heating can be used in case your heaters for chicken coops breaks down during a 3-inch snowstorm and you can’t replace it urgently or you decide that coop heaters aren’t right for you.
Top 5 Best Chicken Coop Heaters: Editor Recommended
Deciding If You Want a Chicken Coop Heater Or Not
This is a bridge you must cross before even considering what type of chicken coop heater you want to get for your chicken farm. It is a known fact that chickens evolved and developed pretty effective mechanisms of keeping warm and withstanding different harsh weather conditions. But even if you have the best-insulated chicken house, you can still come across weather extremes that may surpass the natural regulatory mechanisms of the birds.
Artificial heat sources like chicken coop heaters have been a subject of controversy and argument amongst farmers and animal scientists as different members of each group have varied opinions with proof to back their claims. Fears of fire outbreaks and concerns that your chickens may lose their ability to regulate their own temperatures are usually the main counterarguments against chicken coop heater use.
All the concerns would be allayed in further sections and the final decision would depend on the breed of birds you keep, the climate you would be raising the birds, the size of your flock and other individual factors.
Why Chicken Coop Heaters?
Depending on your birds’ age and need for heat based on the weather and climate in general, you may or may not want to put additional heat into the coop. For instance, during the summer months when the air is dry and hot, additional heat is counterproductive. However, in the winter months, there is a tendency for the core temperature of your chickens particularly the chicks to drop below the physiological lower limit which can result in sickness or mortality.
Why NOT Chicken Coops?
There are several dangers of using chicken coop heaters, particularly when not properly maintained. The most common one is the fire outbreaks but there are others, less common but equally important to know and prevent.
- Fire Outbreaks are by far the most common hazards of chicken coop heater use. They are also very preventable by following proper installation and maintenance guides. Ensure to read through the user manual of whatever product you purchase and if it is beyond your scope, ensure to call a professional to handle installation, repairs and maintenance.
- Acclimation is a phenomenon seen where hens chickens that are normally able to survive up to temperatures of 0°F fall sick or die off at higher temperatures due to a loss in ability to regulate their own body temperature after prolonged exposure to heat from a coop heater.
No one hopes for disaster but a lot of times, they are unavoidable. A power outage, for instance, can cause disaster in acclimated birds due to the rapid drop in coop temperature.
- Frostbite occurs as a result of increased humidity which occurs consequent to the increased heat. Frostbite usually affects birds with large combs and wattles.
Just remember, too much can just be as damaging as or even more so than too little. So, moderation is the keyword. Your coop should not necessarily be at tropical temperatures- just try to keep it less than 40°F as much as you can.
Also, uncomfortable human temperature may be just right for the birds. So, temperature appraisal should be based on the comfort levels of your chickens and not YOU.
When to Use Chicken Coop Heaters
Chickens have a way better regulatory mechanism for handling cold temperatures than humans. They trap air underneath their thick feathery coat which keeps them warm through temperatures that would have you shaking in your boots. So, when do you actually need chicken coop heaters as a necessity?
- During Molting
As winter approaches, chickens need a new, fluffier, and shinier feather coat that would help keep them warm and insulated during the frigid months. A chicken’s core body temperature is within the range of 105°F and 107° (slightly lower figures are found in chicks).
Fun fact: An average chicken in the coop produces heat equivalent to that produced by a 10w light bulb! So, to keep themselves warm, your chicken will fluff up their feathers to keep warm air against their bodies.
The molting process takes about 8-12 weeks to be complete and are particularly vulnerable to low temperatures during this period. Check to see if your chickens have completed molting and if they haven’t you should consider a supplemental heat source during extremes of cold.
- Young or Sick Birds
Fully feathered and healthy birds would generally not require additional heat even during winter temps. If you have any hatchlings or sick birds that have lost some feathers, supplemental heat may be necessary.
Young birds have a lower core temperature (about 103.5°F), have a thinner feather coat, and hence are more sensitive to cold than the older birds. So, with this group, you would want to consider installing a coop heater.
Chickens such as Frizzles and Silkies, tropical breeds such as jungle fowl have a hard time keeping warm because of either their feather distribution of mass.
Frizzles and Silkies have a hard time keeping warm because of their frizzy feathers. The feathers do not sit against the skin so the insulation efficiency drops severely.
Jungle fowl that recently got imported would find it hard to adapt to the new frigid environment as this is totally different from the humid and warm ambience of the tropics. It will take some time to acclimate to your weather.
Chicken Coop Heater Types
In the past, if you wanted to heat a chicken coop you had to rely on basic brooder lamps which are not safe chicken coop heaters considering that the chicken coop is filled with dust, feathered animals and other potential hazards.
These days, there are myriad of style and designs; each of which come with their individual pros and cons. We would take a look at the most common types of chicken coop heaters you would come across.
1. Flat Panel Heaters
These come in the shape of a flat screen TV and like flat screen TVs, they can be hung on the wall of left free-standing supported by a broad, flat base. The flat panel heaters would not heat up the entire coop, just areas in close proximity so placing it near the roosting perches will provide the best results.
- Inexpensive to purchase and use
- One of the easiest to install
2. Infrared Heaters
These, like the flat panel heaters only heat up a small portion of the coop so positioning them around the roosting perches are necessary for optimal performance. They can either be fitted on side mounts or hung overhead. They should not be installed close to materials that are highly flammable.
- They are easy to clean
- Allows for proper space management
- Inexpensive to purchase and maintain
- Usually comes with a warranty in order to improve the lifespan
- Come fitted with built-in thermostats that turn the heaters off when they detect that the desired temperatures have been attained
3. Oil-Filled Radiator Heaters
These are structurally small radiators filled with electrically-heated oil. They are ideal for use in small and large coops for keeping your chickens warm if safety your major concern.
- They are the least expensive type of heaters in this list
- They come with digital thermostats for temperature regulation
- They have safety switches which prevent fire outbreaks in case of an accidental trip over
- It can be quite expensive to run and maintain
- Cleaning can be a tad difficult.
4. Brooder Plates
Brooder plates provide a cozy coop heater specifically for baby chicks and not for adult chickens. It serves as the safer alternative to heat lamps, which can be a source of fire outbreaks in a brooder.
They come in different shapes and sizes all designed to keep you’re your chicks safe and warm quite like the wings of the mother hen (can’t actually compare).
- They have a space underneath where chicks can huddle together for warmth.
- They have a thermostat that turns on at 35°F and turns off automatically at 45°F to keep the delicate chicks at the right temperature.
5. Brooder Lamps Or Light Bulbs
These are generally not recommended as they are major fire hazards especially in a chicken coop environment that is filled with dried wood dust, and straw. They also put out way above the recommended heat levels for the chicks which are extremely sensitive to temperature changes.
10 Best Chicken Coop Heaters Reviews:
We carefully combed through a sea of products on the market across different price ranges, types, quality, and brands and came up with a top ten list of chicken coop heating products. This way you don’t have to go through the stress of doing it yourself and just going to have to trust us. Every device here has been tested by trusted purchasers and also has mostly positive user reviews. Our top recommended chicken coop review is as follows:
1. The K&H Lectro-Soft Out Door Heater Bed With Free Cover
This product from an award-winning manufacturer ranks number one on our list because of its high quality, durability and effectiveness in providing warmth for pets including non-poultry pets.
- High quality
- Reputable manufacturer
- Recommended by vets
- High safety index
2. Cozy Productsl Cl Cozy Safe Chicken Coop Heater 200 Watts
From the pet heater manufacturers “cozy products”, this sleek infrared chicken coop heater packs quite a punch for its price range. Offering 200 watts of power, this heater is suitable for even medium to large chicken coops. There is no need for replacement of bulbs hence, reducing the risk of fire outbreaks.
- 200 watts of power
- No need for bulb of lamp replacement
- Built-in thermostat
- Premium design and build quality
3. Omaykey 100W 2-Pack Ceramic Heat Lamp
The Omakey ceramic heat lamp is a heat emitter lamp that delivers 100w of power and is a perfect 24 hour heat source for bids. The lamps are easy to install and boast of durability of up to 15000 hours. Just install at a safe distance from your birds and avoid touching the surface directly unlit at least an hour after turning off to prevent some nasty burns.
- Easy to install
- Does not emit light which can disrupt the sleep pattern of birds
- Comes with a digital thermometer
4. Brinsea – Ushd500 Eco Glow Brooder For Chicks Or Ducklings
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This product comes in all sizes depending on the size of your flock. The 600 is suitable for up to 20 chicks, 1200 for up to 35 chicks and the 50 for up to 50 chick. This way your chicks which are particularly sensitive to cold can remain warm even during those chilly winter nights.
- Suits large number of brooders
- Chicks can safely contact it with getting burnt
- Made from hygienic ABS plastic
- Reputable brand name
- Allows for contact brooding
5. Aiko Per Space Heater, 1500W OIL Filled Radiator Heater
The Aiko per space heater is the first oil-radiator on this list and as previously mentioned would be one of the most affordable products you would find on here. This chicken coop heater pack so much power with different heat settings – 600w, 900w and 1500w that it can be used in your home.
- Can adjust heat automatically, saving cost.
- Tip-over protection
- Overheat protection
- Remote controlled
- Affordable but packed with features
6. Wuhostam 50W 2 Pack Ceramic Heating Lamps
This, like all infrared lamps use invisible light to heat up your chicken coop that way you do not interrupt your sleeping chickens which would keep them very happy. A happy chicken is a healthy chicken. Just avoid touching the surface of the laps to test the temperature and ensure to keep at a safe distance from the birds.
- Easy to install – just screw in
- Could last for up to 900 – 15000 hours
- High value for low cost
- Solid build with 100% heat efficiency
7. Rent A Coop (12” BY 12”) Chicken Brooder Heating Plate
The heating plate by rent a coop simulates a mother hen and keeps the chicks warm by direct contact brooding. This and features like high affordability, ease of use and cleaning makes it obvious why this product is one of the best hen house heaters you can currently find on the market.
- Allows for contact brooding
- High safety index
- Energy efficient
- Easy to use and clean
- High value for money
8. K&H Pet Products Thermo-Chicken Heating Pad
This is another product from the guys over at K&H and is efficient for heating small areas around it and allows the chicken to come in contact with it without getting scalded. It is easy to manipulate, and has proper cable management features. It is safe as it gets warm not hot and has low chances of setting off fires.
- Preset internal thermostat
- Keeps the chickens from pasting
- High safety index
- Easy to install and use
- Reputable and trusted brand
9. K&H Pet Products Thermo-Chicken Perch
The K&H brand features one more time on our list with their heating chicken perch that keep your chickens’ feet warm. It also efficient delivers heat to other parts of the chickens’ bodies by using the birds’ circulatory system to transfer heat.
- Keeps the toes of the birds warm
- Safe to use
- Easy to install
- Thermostatically controlled
10. Sweeter Heater Infrared Heater
This 100w overhead heater is suitable for brooding chicks as it permit contact without getting burned. It is energy efficient and is made from the highest quality materials so you don’t have to worry about it randomly breaking down or going up in flames.
- No hot spots with uniform heating pattern
- Easy to install overhead
- Energy efficient
- Light weight
What To Look For When Purchasing Chicken Coop Heaters
When you finally hit the physical or online marker, it’s easy to get swayed by specs or price based on the belief, “if it costs more, it’s got to do more”. This isn’t always the case as there are other factors to consider which would enable you get the most of your money spent.
Quality Should Be Your Top Priority
Always ensure you get the coop heater made of the top quality materials even though it requires spending a few additional bucks. It is better to get a pricey good quality material that would last for years with few maintenance sessions than to get a cheap inferior build product that would break down every other month.
The quote goes, “safety first!” and yes, safety should always be first. There are numerous inexpensive chicken coop heaters that ultimately serve more as a fire hazard than as a coop heater and may lead to thousands of dollars’ worth of property loss and even worse loss of lives.
Always evaluate the chicken coop heater’s electrical components and durability or get an expert to do that for you. Also, look for a heater with added features like a “safety switch” that goes off after the heater trips over or a guard from dust getting into the heating elements. The heater shouldn’t be easily accessible by the birds.
As earlier stated, price doesn’t always mean quality. But, most times it does in real world situations. So, don’t feel bad if you spent quite a sum on the best solar chicken coop heaters as most times you would have gotten your money’s worth.
However, there are still good quality coop heaters with outstanding durability and strength for under $100.
Like most other products, this might not be the most important factor when purchasing chicken coop heaters, but it’s still important nonetheless. Reputable brands with a long history of quality production and great user reviews are more trustworthy because you’re more likely to be purchasing a safe, tested machine.
You will also want to consider the wattage of your chicken coop heater which is equivalent to the power of the coop heater to keep your birds warm. Most chicken coop heaters are sold in the range of 100 to 150 watts, which is sufficient to carry out its function. You should consider getting a heater with a larger wattage if your coop is of very large size so as to enable heat reach all corners of the coop.
Other Ways To Keep Your Coop Warm In The Winter
Artificial methods of heating your coop like the use of solar chicken coop heaters are clearly the most efficient way to do it. These methods increase the efficiency of the chicken coop heaters or may be seen as alternatives in environments without the necessity of artificial coop heaters.
This is important not only because of the birds’ obvious need for air, it is also relevant due to the fact that it prevent build-up of ammonia which may be toxic to the birds. It also plays a role in heat regulation within the coop. The ventilation holes are best places at the top to enable the dry, cool air replace the warm moist one coming from the bottom. It also prevents growth of mold within your coop.
- Building Roosts In The Coop
This serves to keep the birds off the ground and while they fluff their wings it shrugs away the cold. With this, you have kept them safe from illness and also warm and cozy.
- Protect From Frostbite
As I mentioned previously, frostbite results from the high humidity that occurs due to the use chicken coop heaters at high temperatures. It is especially harmful to the birds with large combs and wattles.
To protect them from this, use petroleum jelly to cover their combs and wattles. It provides a film that serves as an additional insulating layer for the combs and wattles.
- Deep Litter Coop Heating Method
This method raises the temperature of the coop by mixing the chicken droppings on the floor of the coop with pine shavings and regularly stirring up the mixture. It is also an effective trick to manage waste thereby increasing net output.
You can use rigid board insulation (extruded polystyrene) to line the inside wood panels of your coop. This helps to keep the roost cooler in the summers and warmer in the winter. Spray foam can be used too but should be used on the outside where the chickens can’t peck at it.
Excess heat or excess cold is bad for your flock of chickens. In times of excess heat you increase the ventilation and airflow while in times of excess cold you make use of methods to increase the heat within the chicken coop. The most effective method still remains the use of artificial chicken coop heaters and even more effective is making use of one of the recommended best chicken coop heaters for that purpose. This chicken coop heater review was made on the basis of criteria such as build quality, value for price, safety and efficacy.
- The Combs Of My Chickens Are Frostbitten, Should I Crank Up The Heat?
No, I don’t think you should. Just try increasing the ventilation to reduce the moisture within the coop. You can also apply petroleum jelly on the combs and wattles of the birds.
- Should I Leave My Chicken Coop Heaters On All Through The Winter?
It depends on if the weather stays completely cold throughout the winter, which I doubt it would. Most chicken coop heaters come with a thermostat that turn off when the temperature gets too warm. You can also check yourself to avoid the birds from receiving too much or too little heat.
- My Chicken Coop Heater Is Not Heating Up Properly, What do I Do?
First, check if the wattage is between 100w – 150w. If it isn’t, the wattage is probably too low and you should consider getting one with a higher wattage.