You might not think that chicken coops need electricity, but let me tell you something. We’re in Alaska and it gets cold here. Chickens aren’t Yeti’s. They suffer from the cold and can get frostbite just like a dog or a cat. And when the light goes low, chickens don’t lay well. You might want to do something a bit more fun with your summer, but preparing for the long winter is always a great choice.
So, let’s talk a little bit about what electrical needs there are at a chicken coop.
The weather’s getting warmer, so it’s easy for us to forget that the winter months are long and sometimes brutal. But if you’ve had chickens without a heated coop, they’ll remind you with their frostbitten toes.
When chickens are in the coop together, they generate heat on their own, but it’s not enough. Even the “artic coops” need a little help, but you have to be careful what you put into your coop. First of all, it’s a bit of a fire hazard, and second of all, you want to keep the heating elements away from your birds.
A heat lamp is really all you need. However, there are safer options that aren’t horribly expensive. You could try the CL Cozy Coop Heater from Amazon.
Warming the Water
The other thing that happens in a coop is the water freezing. There are electric water heaters that keep the water from icing over and that helps keep your chickens well-hydrated. This is by far the most important reason for bringing electricity to your coop. Your birds will become stressed without water. They will suffer without water, and they will stop laying eggs without water.
The other thing to keep in mind is that chickens need water to stop crop impaction. Crop impaction happens when a bird eats more food then they have water and this can be deadly to your chickens if not managed and handled in time.
Water is very crucial.
Chickens lay more eggs when they have the right amount of food, water, and light. Light is one of the reasons they lay less in the winter. They need at least 12 hours of light to lay eggs.
How Much Power Do I Need?
Everything we mentioned here can be run from a 20A circuit. We temporarily hooked our coop up on an extension cord this winter. There are pros and cons to doing this. Extension cords are cheap, but they’re also a fire hazard, a trip hazard, and they do age when put in the elements. Our lawn has literally eaten our extension cord, so when I bring the power to the yard this summer, I’m going to have to go through and rip it up.
You will need a breaker in your main panel, a feed to your coop, an outdoor rated disconnect, and then the GFCI outlets you need to supply the equipment you intend to have in your coop.
One More Thing
If this is something you want to do, I highly recommend doing it in the summer when the ground is thawed. It’s a fairly simple installation, though it can be a bit of a bigger project. But if you enjoy the freedom of having your chickens, it’s a worthwhile idea to invest in their safety during the long and brutal winter months.