Are my Chickens too cold?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by amshizzle, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. amshizzle

    amshizzle Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 12, 2015
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I have three chickens and five ducks in two separate pens. It doesn't get too cold in Texas but we are expecting a polar vortex this Sunday morning. It is expected to be in the 20s most of the day with a wind chill and feels in the 9 degree range. I know chickens and ducks can survive this weather... we have already had three days of freezing a week ago... but this doesn't make me any less nervous. I treat these ladies like family!

    Will they be okay? Should I lock them in their coop all day? It is large enough for night time cuddles but not enough for them to get exercise.

    I have a plywood coop with circular holes for ventilation. Their coop door is rather large (maybe 1.5 or 2 ft x 1.5 or 2ft) which is only lightly blocked with strips of a shower liner....

    Is there anything I need to do?

    I just need to ease my mind a bit.. any response would be helpful!!
     
  2. moetrout

    moetrout Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Milan, MI
    I highly doubt they are cold. Remember they are always wearing their down coat 24/7. You're in Texas, 20 degrees is nothing up here in Michigan and our chickens do just fine. I have never supplemented heat in my coop. The only thing that seems to bother my chickens is the snow, but I think with that they just don't like to walk on it. I tend to worry more about my chickens in the extreme summer heat, but not so much in the winter time.
     
  3. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    With what you are describing, I dont think I would close them up. Mine are outside in the run on roosts and elsewhere during the day and can go in and out of their coop at will. Mostly they are out. It has been cold here.

    Warm water and warmed food in the morning might help ease your mind...

    It seems that amongst other things, allowing your birds to acclimate naturally to the weather is vital. Supplemental heat does not allow this.

    Closing them up can increase humidity, which is not good, boredom leading to pecking behavior etc etc. Let your birds show YOU how it works for them...mine are outside during the day and put themselves to bed at night. It took them three days to get out in the snow. They adjusted. Then I close up the run at night, leave the pop door open and here in Montana they are fine. Seriously.

    I know your weather having lived in Dallas for several years many years ago. (I liked Fort Worth better, lol).

    Let us know your observations!
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  4. Zamanthia

    Zamanthia Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 7, 2016
    NE Georgia
    I like to give our birdies warm oatmeal with fresh fruit or greens on really cold mornings.... they gobble it up and it makes me feel like I have fortified them for the cold day. The cold doesn't appear to bother them too much unless it is really windy, then they seek shelter in or under their coop.
     
  5. junkman56

    junkman56 Chillin' With My Peeps

    my chickens stay out in the run during the day and go back in the coop at night to roost, I keep the water and feed in the coop. my run is enclosed with clear tarps on the sides and a tarp on the top, so the weather stays out. the Temp. dropped down to 10 degrees last night, and it is up to 14 degrees now, and the chickens are doing just fine. I do not give them any heat. they seem to be happy chickens.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 18, 2016
    Missouri
    Birds, like people, tend to adapt well to their local conditions. Someone from south Texas might travel to Kansas City for Christmas and be cold wearing a heavy parka, and be met there by someone from Fargo who would be walking around in shorts. So.......if your birds are left outside and allowed to acclimate to their unheated conditions, and not pampered too much, they will come through it fine. That works to a point, but that point is pretty extreme.

    What they need to survive is:

    Shelter from the weather......well ventilated, dry, draft free roosting quarters, and.....

    Fuel.......they have their own insulation and they have their own furnace, but they need fuel to keep the furnace running. So access to food and water at all times is critical. It is also a common practice of those in the northern climates to supplement a layer ration with whole grains like corn, wheat or oats, which tend to be mostly carbs. Others supplement with black oil sunflower seeds, which have both protein and oil, so with those, the calories for the furnace come from fats (oils) which are about 3X as dense as carbs are. Birds can actually get too fat eating too many BOSS's. Most wild birds, when given free choice access to a variety of feeds will often seek out BOSS to the exclusion of all others. Other birds will go for cheaper bird seeds and yet others will hang out on the suet feeders which are all fats.

    I supplement their layer feed with a 50:50 mix of raw oats and BOSS's. About 1/4 cup per day per bird, and toss it out about an hour or so before dusk when they go to roost. Or if the litter in the house is not getting worked enough, will toss double that on top of the litter below the roost and the litter gets mixed pronto.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 18, 2016
    Missouri
    BTW, I have noticed something new with the birds since the weather has gotten colder. I have two roost bars. When it was warmer, they used both, but might spread out. Now that it's colder, they all huddle in once corner. I mean packed in like sardines. That is another part of them keeping warm. If only one roost, they will likely pack together on it too, but with two, they make a small circle or puddle in one corner. Voting with their feet.
     
  8. flyin-lowe

    flyin-lowe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 24, 2016
    Indiana
    This is my hens first winter here in Indiana. We have had a warmer then average November however yesterday temps really dropped. It was right at zero overnight and wind chill temps were -15 this morning. As soon as the sun was up the hens were out in the run like it was a normal day.
     
  9. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 28, 2016
    Douglas County, Minnesota
    Here's a poor quality photo I took on Tuesday:

    [​IMG]


    18 of my chickens are squeezed in together on this little 6 foot roost. You can't see them all in the photo, as they're practically roosting on top of each other, staying warm.

    Out of frame to the left is the majority of the roosting space in the coop - four 8-foot (or longer) 2x4s, with 9 chickens on it (also all bunched up together).
     
  10. WesleyBeal

    WesleyBeal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 28, 2016
    Douglas County, Minnesota
    amshizzle, I'm not experienced at this, it's my first winter with chickens.

    Hopefully though my experiences now will help to reassure you.

    I'm in central-west Minnesota. Temps are going well below zero overnight.

    I was just out (5:10 p.m.) to check on the chickens and shut them in for the night. It was minus 2 degrees.

    Here's a couple more poor quality photos of my chickens, adapting to the cold weather.

    I've got 27 chickens in all. Most crowd onto this 6 foot roost, and in doing so warm each other up:

    [​IMG]

    The feathers provide a lot of warmth, and they can puff them out to create extra insulation. You can hopefully see this in the photo below, where the chickens aren't so crowded together:


    [​IMG]

    For whatever reason, one girl wants her own space tonight. Including this last photo just because I think it's funny she's decided to hang out over by herself. Kindred spirit, as far as I'm concerned.

    [​IMG]

    So again, I'm not experienced at this. But if my chickens are doing alright here where it's below zero out (we're supposed to drop down to 25 below zero this weekend), your's should be alright too!
     
    1 person likes this.

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