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Are chickens smart enough to come in from the cold?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by this old hen, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. this old hen

    this old hen New Egg

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    Oct 15, 2009
    Are chickens smart enough to come in from the cold? My hens have an enclosed outside area attached to their house the small door is always open between the two areas. Our nights are dropping in the low 20's and I have turned the heat lamp on in their house. But every night they sleep outside! So I'm wondering are chickens not smart enough to go in when it's cold, or is it not cold enough for them to need to go in?
     
  2. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You may need to put them in for several nights and close the door so that they get the idea that is where they're supposed to be at night.
     
  3. cackleberrycoop

    cackleberrycoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is this a recent move for your hens to the coop from somewhere else? You can try closing them in the coop with no outside access for a few days till they orient themselves to the coop. I've had to do this every single time I move chickens to new housing. If I do this, they go into the coop at night, but if I don't then they try to sleep anywhere but the coop, no matter the weather.
     
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    If it's just in the low 20's, they really don't need a heat lamp. I figure they will go in if they need to. My oldest and youngest went in on their own when it hit the mid teens for a week. The rest still slept outside.
     
  5. cackleberrycoop

    cackleberrycoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ha! Yay Chicks, we posted at the same time!
     
  6. nczookeeper

    nczookeeper Out Of The Brooder

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    When I had my tractor, my young chickens 5, 6, 7 and 8 weeks old, would not go upstairs. They stayed out when it was rainy and chilly and I was terrified they would get frostbite when winter set in. Some here were very helpful and suggested catching them and placing them upstairs, but due to the layout of my tractor, catching them would have been a real pain and very messy. We opted for a large coop and run and when the girls were 8,9,10 and 11 weeks old, we had it all set up and moved them in. We kept them 'cooped up' for 3 full days so they would bond with their roosts and knew where their laying boxes and food were. . . Then let them out - well, the first night they stayed outside, but it was mild, on night two it was raining and I went out, caught them, and popped them in their coop and closed their hen hole. After that night, they smartened up, and started going in on their own. Happiest day of my life! [​IMG]

    You may have to catch them and show them where they need to be when it gets dark - hopefully, they will be quick studies and after one round up they will go in on their own.

    Good luck!
     
  7. this old hen

    this old hen New Egg

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    Wow thanks for the fast replies! This is the only house they have been in and I have had the hens for about 7 months and my rooster for a year and a half. They do go in and out during the day to lay eggs or eat but they prefer outside. One side of the pen is next to the garage and I have a tarp on the other side. I do have a nice roost going the length of the wall facing the garage that they sit on. The house is nice and has plenty of room for 3 hens and a rooster but it has a small roost, next to a window, so someone will be sitting on floor. Thats the only downside that I can see. Maybe its too warm??
     
  8. crooked stripe

    crooked stripe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is the chickens choice. Sometimes in and sometimes out. I figure if they where cold they would go in. Mine have no heat in the winter either. Just a heated waterer. When it gets below 0 they always seem to find their way in the coop and after a couple hours it is toasty in the coop just from body heat. I do have one hen that lays outside no matter what the weather. I have to pick the eggs up fast in the winter or I get eggsickles. rj
     
  9. nczookeeper

    nczookeeper Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Oh, so they do go inside on their own, just not at night? I wouldn't worry then. I was freaked out because for weeks, my chickens never EVER went up top - they went up the ramp but would not step foot up there - I vented it, i put lights in, turned lights off. . .and with the new coop, once they went outside, they didn't even try to go back in to where their food and water was, so I helped them along. . .Your chickens sound smarter than mine [​IMG]
     
  10. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a cockerel, born two days after Christmas last year.


    I eventually had to separate him from the main flock (constant fights with the other rooster) and I put him in the chicken tractor. This was around June.


    Even though I locked him up the first few nights in the tractor, he just wouldn't sleep in there. He eventually chose a place on a bench right near the main henhouse where the other birds lived. Even giving him his own two hens -- who do sleep in that same tractor -- did not persuade him to move into the tractor to sleep.


    Rain didn't drive him into the tractor either. There were several times I had to catch him -- after he ran me all over the yard in a heavy rain -- in order to get him into that tractor and under shelter.


    But a few COLD nights finally did it.


    I waited until he was sleeping, then snuck up on him, captured him before he could wake up and run, and put him into the tractor. I waited until it was in the low 40s to go out there to move him, so he could experience the cold and appreciate the warmth of the tractor with its 150 watt infrared ceramic heating "lamp."


    After a few nights of suffering in the cold until I put him into the warm tractor, he FINALLY began going into the tractor on his own -- just in time for last week's low 20's temperature dip.


    Now, he's going into the tractor with his two hens every night. Voluntarily.


    What a relief!
     

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