Originally Posted by wyan5
Question: we're getting a ton of rain here in SC and my chickens are soaked. Tonight it's supposed to get down to 30 degrees with some ice and snow. Our henhouse is not very well built and one "wall" is just some outdoor fabric. It seems to be getting wet inside even though I put plastic over the metal piece we used as a roof. I'm wondering if I should put the chickens in our crawl space so they can dry off. is tyere chance of freezing or frostbite if the temps get below freezing and they are wet?
I think there is a relative chance that your birds can get frost bit with added moisture that goes into the air as that water evaporates off your bird. Especially if they are enclosed with that moisture still on them. I've had problems with some more superficial frostbites this winter have been after a warm up in Northern Minnesota (32 + degrees) in which we get rain or freezing rain and then it switches fast to bitter cold. Almost as if that moisture off their feathers doesn't have half a chance to dry it can set you up for frost bite. Superficial or what have you. That's why ventilation is key to release out that moisture. I also don't give wet food like warm oatmeal in subzero temps as it stuck to my Roos wattles and that created a superficial frost bite.
Currently my set up is this and it seems to be working but I'm always learning, watching my birds and making mental notes: Coop has 2x4 boards with the 4 inch side face up to cover their toes and legs thoroughly. Insulated my roof only to hold down their accumulated body heat. Our winters are dry winters here so I imagine you might feel your cold a bit more on the Atlantic seaboard. I do use a 25 watt red light for 0-31 Fahrenheit temps . 0- minus 20 Fahrenheit(our coldest so far this year) I use a 75 watt black light. And I keep them in. I've given them chances to go out in the run by leaving the pop door open but they end up staying in or roosting alot during those Sub zero days anyways. Depending on the day of course but if it's in the single digits the coop inside stays about 20 degrees at roost level-- pop door open. We had a -18 degree day and the coop maintained at 4 degrees Fahrenheit. I was pretty impressed with that. The light needs to go off at 32 degrees though. We had 40+ degrees in the coop with a warm up one day last week... and I guess I'm fickle: I didn't want my birds going soft on me! Despite my other high maintenance ways with the different watt light bulbs. Ha!
Their outdoor run is covered as they don't appreciate walking in the snow much. I've got Plastic on the North and West sides of the Run for prevailing Winter winds. East and South Ends are open.
Today is a colder day here for us. I didn't pay attention to my weather.com app this AM and didn't realize it was -4 this morning. Nobody anxious to hop off the roost this morning when I opened the pop door. Ha. Should have figured. I think they know and can feel of course when it's a good day to hunker down for a sleep-in until it gets a little warmer. And so far today I have 0 eggs for 3 that are laying now. Other 6 hens have shut 'er down for the winter. I do think that in colder temps they do drop their overall production. They're using and burning their nutrients to stay warm...Probably? So that gets diverted from the egg production..? My thoughts only.
Experiment a little and keep an eye on your birds. They'll kind of show you what they like and don't like. But I think they're tougher in those big fluff down coats than what we realize.