Humidity can make your birds sick. They need to have a dry place every night. Exposure to weather during the day is healthy and chickens can enjoy the snow.
Chickens REALLY DO have a pecking order. If you introduce birds (correctly, no big fighting), and the flock kicks them out of the coop during bad weather, while the rest of the flock is inside the coop, your need to close them in together. Exposure to extreme cold and wind can kill them.
They need loads of fresh air without a draft, which is a learning experience your first winter.
Baby chicks brood best in the summer. Not enough heat will kill them.
Baby chicks can go lame if they slip in their first few weeks. I use old (sometimes holey) bath towels on top of shavings (on top of 3 inches of garden dirt) in my livestock water tank brooder (repurposed because it leaks), and change them every other day for 3-4 weeks and it has kept every batch of chicks from going lame because the towels have friction for them. I bleach those towels and store in my barn in plastic bags.
Chickens LOOOOOVVVVEEEEE to roost as high as possible at night, so make the roof of their coop inaccessible.
You can train your birds to roost inside the coop at night. Some LIKE to stay outside during warm weather, so you pick them up, put them inside and close the door for about a week straight to retrain. Owls are watching your flock. Don't let them.
Chickens need more water per ounce/pound than any other common livestock. I use a heated dog water bowl in the winter to keep them hydrated.
Keep the water clean. When somebody tells you that their birds drink from a puddle, they mean outside, away from where you keep them. Don't let that puddle be the only water that is available be in a dirty run mixed with their poo. THAT isn't healthy. I use tall plastic paint buckets for my livestock water. I pour the bird's dirty water into an empty bucket, and then refill fresh water. If you do this daily, you probably won't have to scrub it.
Chickens looovvee to take dirt baths.
If you keep your chicken's home and run clean, feed right and supply fresh water they will be happy and healthy.
Don't name them if you intend to eat them.
I have kept chickens since 2006.
Edited by ducks4you - 2/17/16 at 9:41am