Anyone's hen actually ever freeze to death?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pkeeler, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. pkeeler

    pkeeler Songster

    Jul 20, 2008
    I can't help but be amazed at all the posts of people deathly worried about their chickens and cold weather. Has anyone ever actually lost a hen they could definitely attribute to cold? Where the hen was in a dry coop, adequately fed and watered?

    For all the hundreds of posts of people using heat lamps and insulation and buttoning up their coops air tight, I can't recall anyone actually losing a bird.

    I think people are wasting a lot of time, energy, and money on combating cold. Even worse, I think they are imperiling their hens' long term health by not having adequate ventilation. I can't find in any of the agricultural literature the need to even worry about chickens until the temp. is below zero (Fahrenheit), sustained.

    Domestic chickens predated electricity by thousands of years. Did the pilgrims build fireplaces into their coops and keep fires going all night? How did they ever keep the species going when all their chickens froze solid every winter?

    Why don't we all give the local utility a break (although they probably love people running 150W IR lamps all night), and chill out. [​IMG] I'd wager more chickens have been burned to death from heat lamps than have been frozen to death from the cold on this site.
  2. thetajmahalcoop

    thetajmahalcoop Songster

    Jan 2, 2010
    nunda ny
    this is true, I had chickens the first two winters I lived at my new house and they roomed with the goats one year and pigs the next which definitely did not have a heated barn to live in and i didnt lose a single bird all winter. Yes I did feel guilty about this and yes egg production was does seem as if some parts of the US are having extremely cold winters and longer than usual cold snaps (I know we are) so that's why some people are concerned. Also this year I have some young'uns that were hatched at the end of the summer vs. springtime so that's why I am concerned. But overall, yes you are right, Chickens lived for a long time before us humans got involved just fine.
  3. gsim

    gsim Songster

    Jun 18, 2009
    East Tennessee
    So true basically. I am sure that many more die of heat than of cold. Lung disorders can strike any time of year, but I suspect it is more prevalent in cold weather due to coops not properly ventilated/too damp. Extreme climates such as in Alaska are different, but we are having some really extra cold weather right now in the 'lower 48' states. I would probably do something simple such as a row of 75 W heat lamps or what not if it got below zero. I do not want mine to get frostbite on their feet/toes.

    I have a neighbor who has bantams and does not house them at all. I do not know what they feed them for sure. It could be that they give them whatever leftovers they have. The lady wants rid of them because they poop everywhere and cannot get her husband to build them a coop or run. she offered some to me, but I declined believing that they would be hard to contain and would likely go back across and down the road if I turned my back anyway.
  4. gkeesling

    gkeesling Songster

    Nov 24, 2008
    Hagerstown, IN
    when I first started with my chickens I was a little concerned about the cold. Then I remembered that chickens are birds and there are all kinds of birds that live outside no matter how cold it gets and I still see birds in the spring so they must survive. I just be sure my birds have adequate food, water, and don't have to sleep in a drafty coop. So far I haven't lost any.
  5. pkeeler

    pkeeler Songster

    Jul 20, 2008
    We are having a cold snap, but some perspective is in order even about that. The Hudson River used to freeze solid every year around the turn of the last century. You could walk or skate from NJ to NYC at this time of year. We become acclimated to the weather much faster than we think. What is now considered a terrible cold snap, was considered seasonal in 1900 (probably even 1980), if not a warm spell. In 1900, most people had some chickens, none of them were building fires or using fiberglass insulation. [​IMG]
  6. QuailHollow

    QuailHollow Songster

    I don't worry about the cold either - we're in PA. We do, however, plastic off the coops. The only consern I have is the points of the comb freezing off of my exhibition stock. Otherwise, there are no worries.

    Edited to add: the only loss I've inccured from cold weather was a couple of pullets last year. I allowed a hen to hatch out eggs on her own in October, and they were not big enough to withstand the cold PA winter. There were 4 pullets. When I found them, 1 was left alive. Her feet froze off, but she spent the rest of the winter in our warm basement. She now has stumps instead of feet, but lays up a storm. This year - she is wintering in the coops with no problems. We call her "Peg-Leg".
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2010
  7. wood&feathers

    wood&feathers Songster

    Dec 22, 2009
    E. KY
    I' m so glad to see this thread. We were down to 8 F last night, the fifth night of sub 10 in a row here in Ky. Temps around zero are predicted for next weekend. This is my first winter with chickens. I was contemplating if I could put them in the garage or basement...
  8. beaken

    beaken In the Brooder

    Feb 13, 2009
    It was 27 below here in Isanti, mn saturday. Its my 1st year ever raising Chickens . I have a 13 foot by 14 foot by 14 foot high coop UNINSULATED NON HEATED with a window open 12 feet above there heads. It's draft free . Gotta admit I was a little nervous when I went to check on them .. They looked GREAT NOT A TOUCH OF BLUE ON THE BUNCH.. RUNNING AROUND THE COOP LIKE SPRING CHICKENS.. 4 BARRED ROCK AND 10 GOLD SEX LINKS ! It's been -15 plus every night for 10 days now. Good luck don't worry about the chickens they are hardier then you think.
  9. txchickie

    txchickie Songster

    Nov 15, 2008
    I have about 25 bantams that roost in the trees every night, year round. It's supposed to get down to -4F tomorrow night and the next few nights after. Funny thing is, I have BCMs and EE's that are in a big insulated, ventilated coop and my marans roosters are the ones with frostbite [​IMG] my little OEGB's in the cedar trees are doing so well, no frostbite at all and all are still nice and plump.
    I can go out right now and pick one up off a branch and those little guys are so warm under those feathers. They ride out snow and ice in the cedar trees all winter long (they DO have the option to return to the coop, but do not) and they do very well.

    I have a down filled jacket I wear and I break a sweat doing morning chores in it when it's 10 degrees outside in the morning..........just think about that [​IMG]
  10. SportTees

    SportTees Songster

    I am surprised by how much cold these birds can take. I have 1 roo that refuses to go in the coop or fly, He has been sleeping outside on the ground under the coop (its about 2 ft off the ground) in 14 deg temp by himself. When I relized he was sleeping out side I got him some hay to try and help him stay warm. I would have fully expected him to freeze from all the things I've heard of people doing on here to keep them warm. The only problem I'm having is keeping the darn water from freezing - its not suppose to to 14 deg with highs in the high 20's in ALABAMA!!

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