By firestomp · May 29, 2017 · ·
  1. firestomp
    Pic by suzyQlou​

    I was asked to repost this thread, but with the new system it is gone, so I will do it as an article. I am not a biologist, or a specialist of any kind, and I am still learning after all these years.

    First, let's do some history, chickens have been here way before us, and have never needed us to count on for surviving as a species. They have adapted to nearly every climate. We have domesticated and made breeds to suit our needs.

    In this day and age we are spoiling them as we have our kids, who no longer play outside or are made to do chores, learn basic things like cooking, equipment maintenance and so on, and even homework in some homes, the parents do it for them while the child plays video games. I have personally seen all of this, and my ex, was guilty of the homework thing. Of course the child suffers for it in the long run.

    Chickens are very hardy, and will adapt to the environment they have lived in. Cold is not an issue for them. Think about it, a 140 years ago or so, folks were definitely not heating barns, coops or any animal structure for that matter, as it would have burnt the places down. Even today, people don't have or use electricity in some cultures and those living off grid, so they don't heat the coops. We do this because we don't want them cold it makes us feel good.

    Here is 50 years of real life experience, not what I think but how I was raised and what I do now with my own flock. NO HEAT IN MY COOPS, rabbits, quail, and ducks, nor outside dogs for that matter. I do use a 40 watt bulb on a timer in the winter to keep the light hours up for laying, I get eggs every day of the year. I currently have 6 hens that are not allowed in the coop at night do to the pecking order (that will be another article). Since I free range, they do use the nest boxes for egg laying, but that's it. Three of these hens were hatched by the current flock, the other 3 came over my 5 foot fence to get away from 2 dog attacks at my neighbors. They have been there since winter and the neighbor doesn't think they would stay home now, so I have them for good. One is a little Polish hen. These last three roost 15 feet up in a pine tree every night. The other three roost on the 7 foot fence surrounding my enclosed chicken yard, I had to put roosts there to keep them from breaking down the wire. Even they (all sisters) have a particular place on these roosts. Not in your spot, you get kicked off and start over. These six hens, have been in rain, snow, an ice storm and 0 or below temperatures. I even made a set up for them outside of the main chicken area and they will not roost in it. They are very hardy, and I personally believe are stronger do to living in these conditions. In the past I have had birds survive -20 deg. with a -70 windchill, a 30 day run of 0 or below temps with no ill effects.

    What I do for them is this, food, and water twice a day (do to it being frozen), and 2x4 roosts, flat side up so they can cover their feet when roosting. Even the outside ones don't have that luxury, and have lost no toes or anything else in those temps. Also as a note, a guy I work with has a grandmother with many chickens, a local small town supplier of eggs and meat, who uses no housing at all. They all roost in trees or brush and she collects the eggs from where the hens have chosen to lay them. Now that is roughing it, but, keeps her in shape.

    This is just fact and experience I am giving you. Do what you will and what makes you feel good. Spoil them like kids if you wish. But they sure don't require it. Enjoy them and the bounty they give you every day.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. suzychappstick
    "Good to know..."
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 9, 2019
    Thank you for sharing. I have two coops and 8 birds. 2 choose to roost on top of their houses. For a while I was going in forcing them into one of the coops, but they always wouldn't stay. Sometimes one will go in the other coop that others are not in. The are still pretty protected under our deck. I will worry less and let them do their own thing from now on.
  2. imneva
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 8, 2019
    to know I am not alone in my philosophy on chickens.
  3. Aerliss
    "Less an article, more a minor rant."
    2/5, 2 out of 5, reviewed Jan 8, 2019
    I almost walked away in the first paragraph when it started talking about spoiling children. Old man yells at clouds territory, right there. But I pushed on, thinking it had so many high star reviews that there must be something of worth in there.

    Alas, nothing but anecdotal "mine survive" stories. I'd rather there was something to back up these claims. What is "no ill effects"? Did they continue to lay? At what rate? Were they as active as usual? How was feed consumption? What peer reviewed research is out there, if any, on chicken preferences and production through a range of temperatures?


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  1. Better Than Rubies
    Just wondering, if you truly think they really don't need supplemental heat--which I agree, none really do--then why not give their bodies a much needed rest in the winter from laying, as they naturally slow down or stop altogether in the light-shortened days? I'm not thrilled that my birds have ALL stopped laying now, but I'm not going to put a light in their coop to "force" them to lay. We all need a rest, right?
    Besides, I think there are a few breeds that will lay plenty in the winter in their first year, without supplemental light. :)
    Sorry, I just felt the need to point that out, but am not trying to offend or irritate anyone.
  2. thumper650
    I have a cozy coop heater that I use in my ducks if the temp drops below about 25 degrees. Yep, it's unnecessary but it makes me feel better, and keeps my husband quiet!

    They have plenty of room away from it, I'd never use a heat lamp though.
      KrissyroxNJ likes this.
  3. Nellydog
    I mean I don't have chickens yet but I've seen a couple articles saying the dangers of heat lamps so I'm in between on this obviously it feels nature to "spoil" them but where "Spoiling" ends and necessity begins is quite blurry for me with heat but chickens have evolved I'm sure since they were first created so weather they have evolved in the sense of them needing heat is unknown to me but I know that there's certain breeds recommended for hot and humid climates so I'm not sure
  4. chickenpeeple
    Just because chickens can survive in cold temperatures doesn't mean they're comfortable. I know my chickens are more comfortable with a heat lamp.
  5. Keeperofmunchkins
    Not sure why this article is featured. It is very biased and does not have enough facts and detail to backup the opinions stated. The tone is also very off putting. Not well written at all.
  6. moniquem
    Good article. I am a first time flock owner and was really worried about the cold here in Washington however....I decided NOT to heat the coop for reasons listed above. Chickens are getting along fine!
      Libertycda and WannaBeHillBilly like this.
  7. Larrycauna
    An animal that is mistreated like a dog on a chain in freezing weather and kept on a chain is completely different then a chicken in a coop. They have shelter, water, feed available. My father raised different types of birds from pigeons to peacocks. Never using lights or heat in the coops. We lived in an area that in the winter would get below Zero. Not once do I remember a bird freezing. When you raise an animal will adapt to its surroundings. My chickens know when we get high coastal winds and heavy rain hit, they head into the protected areas. Very seldom do they return to the protection of the coop. At night they go in and roost. At 6AM they are waiting for me to let them out. It's great if someone wants to pamper their chickens, however the most important thing you can do is. Water, food and shelter. Some horses, cows, pigs, and other farm animals find their own shelter from a tree to a lean to. Compare apples to apples, like dogs an Alaskan sled dog that lives outside in the Arctic is just fine. Why because they have proper care. My friend in Utah raises 5,000 head of Angus beef. They live outside. People tend to relate their comfort zones to their own. The average comfort zone for a person is 68 degrees F. So when we go out we put on additional protection. Chickens can regulate their temperatures to adjust once the reach a certain age.
  8. black_dove2
    I don't understand what happened to all the comments that were posted on this article. Do they get deleted for space.

    If comments are removed what happens to the vote one submitted for ratings

    Sometimes I feel I imagined what I read or posted when this happens

    I did rate article as 5 stars, hmm shall I vote again?
      WannaBeHillBilly and OFChickens like this.
    1. BantyChooks
      It was a glitch, and yes, it's safe to rate again.
      WannaBeHillBilly and black_dove2 like this.
  9. theoldchick
    I find this fascinating as to our emotional attachment to an animal creates a totally different attitude about care. People will have a fit if they see a dog out in the cold. However, it is considered spoiling a chicken if you attempt to keep your flock warm. My main concern with providing warmth to a flock is the fire hazard and ventilation problem. You must have moving air in a coop and you don't want to ignore the potential of roasting your flock with bad wiring.

    I've got an old gal who decided to roost in a nest box when the temp dropped to 20 F. Seeing the change in behavior alerted my maternal instinct and I investigated. While she appeared normal, I provided a woolen pad for her to 'roost' on in the nest box. She loves it. And I'm happy to spoil the old gal as she has served me well for 7 years.

    No, we don't have to spoil our chickens but we do need to be mindful of their needs. Certain breeds are cold hardy and do well in frigid weather. While others such as silkies and tiny bantams will need protection from the frost. However, all chickens should be provided the very basic of a dry, draft free place in which to roost at night.

    While I do agree that we sometimes forget how hardy the chicken really is, we do need to remember that our flock is not the primitive jungle fowl that nature created. With all the selective breeding humans have done to the chicken it is only fitting that we provide the environment to allow them to thrive.
  10. Smuvers Farm
    This is an informative and interesting read. I do believe however, you should take the paragraph out about raising spoiled children, as that doesn't bring anything to the article other than what sounds like negativity spouted towards your ex.
    1. BYCforlife
      And it's kind of an insult to the kids/teens who actually work. (Like me and every other person I'm friends with) And we're not just taking out the trash.
      If I lived in the city, I would die from boredom. I love the outdoors, it's just THE place to be.
      There's my 2 nickels. ( Pennies are gone in Canada :p )

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