-13 degrees in the Colorado mountains

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lindsaym, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. Lindsaym

    Lindsaym Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2014
    black hawk, co
    Good morning all! I am a first time chicken owner and I have some questions about keeping my hens healthy in the sub zero temperature. I only have three hens so their her house is only about 5ftx4ft I only have one heat lamp in there and they have free access to their run. Is one lamp enough? Should I put a thermometer in their house? I almost think they are getting too hot! They prefer to be outside in the cold than in the heated house. I know chickens over heat but I'm scared they ate going to freeze to death. I also see a lot of people say they changed the chicken feed during the winter. Why is that and what should I change it to? I have one runt in the family and she spends almost all of her time in the house and has never laid an egg... I'm worried about her this winter :/ any suggestions would be appreciated!
  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 12, 2013
    Boulder, Colorado
    I personally would never heat the coop. You probably have your fair share of power outages up there and I would rather have them acclimated to the temps. Heat lamps are also a fire hazard.\ with all the dust and bedding in a coop. Bed the floor with a thick layer of straw or shavings, keep them dry and out of a draft and they will be fine.

    I don't change their feed in the winter other than add roasted soybeans when they are molting which they are right now. Mine also double their feed intake in the bitter cold.
    1 person likes this.
  3. TaraBellaBirds

    TaraBellaBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 13, 2013
    SW Kansas
    First off, what breeds are your chickens? How old are they? Breed and age are big factors in the Winter.

    When thinking about the weather and chickens the first thing you should do is go outside and put your fingers inside of your chickens feathers (like a little oven)!!!! Depending on breed they may not even need the heat.

    If you are going to leave heat on for them that is fine, as long as you are aware of fire hazard and so on. I would turn off the heat durning the day and on more mild nights to keep them acclimated to the weather.

    As far as feed, as Percheron said, they will increase their intake by a LOT. I breed, and I always bring my numbers way down in the winter. So make sure they have plenty to eat so that they can produce enough energy to stay warm. A snack right before bed will go a long way to help keep them warm through the night. Also make sure they stay busy and active. I throw out treats and hang up fruit and vegtables to give them stuff to peck and scratch at.
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    You have one heat lamp too many. You don't need a thermometer in the their house, and you're probably right about them being too hot. Chickens have their own wonderful, insulated heating system. It's their feathers. They acclimate to the cold by growing more downy feathers, just like your dog, cat, horses and cows grow thicker hair in the winter. The most important thing about housing chickens in the winter is keeping their coop well-ventilated to keep the humidity down. Yep, you want a little air-flow, even when it's this cold. I'm in MN and have been keeping chickens for over 25 years in sub-zero temps and have never had one freeze to death. Too much humidity will cause frostbitten combs and wattles and make your chickens feel more chilled. You know those cold, humid days - the soak into your bones kind of cold. Too much heat in the coop causes humidity to build because it keeps the manure and urine thawed and that moisture gets in the air. They're much better off with deep, fresh bedding. Another thing to consider. When you go outside and bundle up with coat, snow pants, boots, gloves, etc. you can take it off when you come back in. Try leaving it on for a while when you get back in and see how uncomfortably hot you get. Your chickens don't get to take off their down coats. A somewhat consistent temp is much healthier for them.

    Some people will feed a higher-energy feed. Something with more fat in it.
    2 people like this.
  5. Lindsaym

    Lindsaym Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2014
    black hawk, co
    Awesome information! Thanks for the help!

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