Are my chickens ok in this awful cold??

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by OliveandherHens, Nov 28, 2015.

  1. OliveandherHens

    OliveandherHens Just Hatched

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    [​IMG]I have read that a heater in your chicken coop is a bad idea for several reasons. I live in South Dakota where it can get down to -20 some days/nights. I have the girls in a metal shed, so there is plenty of ventilation but there is no insulation (it's cold in there!) It shields them from the wind and I have pine shavings on the ground but I worry that it's just too cold for them. They are a part of our family and I want them to be comfortable, definitely don't want to lose any this winter. I do have a smaller coop in the shed that they lay in but will not go into at night, I'd rather not make them go into it. Should I just not worry? They are just chickens and will be ok? Should I start putting them into the little shed at night? Any advice would be appreciated.
    I included a picture of our shed/coop.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2015
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  2. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    -20 in a metal shed sounds like a recipe for disaster. But I heat my WI coop. Possibly you can insulate with straw bales or some other idea that in doable. Likely others will have ideas different than mine. Good luck.
     
  3. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Its the wind that could hurt them and if its wet i would put them in the coop at night to help keep them warm. The heater not a good plan, it wont allow them to adjust to the cold and cause issues i would put vaseline on their combs and wattles to keep them from getting frost bite. And make sure when they roost they have to cover their feet with their feathers so they dont get frost bit on their toes. And honestly it depends on the breed most breeds were devoloped in colder climates so they do well in the winter not so well in the summer. Most of the breeds i have are happy right jow since its cold however in the summer i have to have a pool or mud area to help them cool off and some times i put a fan outside for them. But from my understanding chicken like the cold with their feathers. Just make sure there is no draft and that they are nice and dry they be happy chickens for that alone.
     
  4. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There some one in canada that i talked to while back who has a flock that goes out during -40 if i rememeber correctly and he doesnt heat his coop. His is wood through not sure if there a big difference when it comes to pretty much just blocking the wind. Do you have a thermometer and humidity gadge in your coop?
     
  5. OliveandherHens

    OliveandherHens Just Hatched

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    Thanks for the tips! I do not have a temp/humidity gage. It has good ventilation, in both the shed and smaller coop inside the shed. They don't seem to mind the snow during the day. The coop is dry and I change their bedding quite often. I have started to just put them in the smaller coop at night for a bit more insulation. I think the smaller coop with no heat might be the best route? I have pretty hearty breeds: australorp, buff, and barred rock. It is my first winter with the girls so I'm trying not to worry too much but I am a mother, so it's just a part of me! [​IMG]
     
  6. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Lol i know the feeling. I first was the same until some people on here told me all tha. And yes i would think so about the small coop. As long as it has enough ventilation to keep the humdity down then they will do great.
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    It of course depends on the dimensions of the smaller and the bigger coops.

    I too, live in SD, the western part, and it does get cold here. Humidity is a much bigger problem than cold. And where humidity will build up is if the bird is near either the ceiling or the wall. It is more important to keep them away from the wall and ceiling, than worrying about how warm they are. If the top of their head is several inches below the ceiling when they are on the roost, and if they are about a foot away from the wall, there will be enough air circulation so that the moist air will move away from the bird, and the bird will stay dry.

    DRY is much more important than having warm air around them. The feathers are great insulators if they are kept out of the wind, and they are kept dry. They will be able to manage very close to 30 below without much effect. Last year I had a broody hen raise 4 chicks a week old, and it was two weeks near -20.

    What I am thinking, is in putting your birds in a small coop, to crowd them together and keep them warm, what will happen is they will be very close to the walls, and possibly the ceiling and they will be damp. The moisture will build up on the combs and wattles from all that close by breathing and you will have frostbite. Plus crowded birds will develop horrible habits. In trying to be kind, you are actually making things worse.

    When I started out, I too, thought, close up the coop and keep it warm. I learned slowly, that you don't need to keep them warm, you need to keep them dry. Put in good deep bedding, don't let the manure build up too deep. Frozen manure does not let off a lot of moisture, but if you get a warm day or two, it will really add moisture, so keep it cleaned out. Lower your roosts, so to pull the birds away from the ceiling and the walls, and they will be fine.

    Mrs K
     
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  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I don't see any ventilation here...other than the open door, which is great during nice weather if there's no predator about.
    But they need ventilation 24/7 and clear windows for light during the days of inclement weather.
    Can you post pics of the whole coop showing the ventilation?
     
  9. OliveandherHens

    OliveandherHens Just Hatched

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    Thanks for the tips! The small coop has a vent above and below the roost allowing for circulation but not a draft. The shed, I had thought before, had too much ventilation but I'm thinking that may be a good thing. They have always been kept out of the wind and dry. The shed is tall enough and the roost is not close to the wall so they will not collect moisture. They always go outside during the day (unless it's blizzarding-I usually shovel a path for them in that situation). They have been fine so far so I should stop worrying! I appreciate the help!
     
  10. Eggscoozme

    Eggscoozme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My first winter with a pair of chickens: 5 x 5 petsafe dog cage with predator proof top (Coop)
    hardware clothe around bottom with big rocks and timber bordering bottom to discourage predators
    fully covered coop with tarp
    stacked bales of STRAW shoulder high around coop and some straw ontop covered with an old tempered glass window to keep straw from flying away
    thermal sheeting zip-tied to door to keep drafts out
    stacked bales of straw INSIDE coop, and put a one-shelf book case for a nesting box (measured about 2ft x 1ft x 1ft)
    in the winter I gave a cereal bowl full of water in the morning and night.

    What happened? We free range, and check this out: on one of the blusteriest and rainiest days of the year, the coop door closed - we came home to 2 chickens DRENCHED waiting right outside the coop door to get out of rain no doubt. Terror struck, because I read chickens need to be kept away from drafts and wetness. Agh! They don't have a chance (or so I thought).
    Turns out they were just fine. Furthermore, on the coldest day of the year, -30 with wind chill, our Amelia had her first egg :)))
     

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