Baby It's Cold Out There. Do My Chickens Need More Protection from the Cold?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by snhchick, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. snhchick

    snhchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My three young Silkies are experiencing their first taste of real cold. It got down to one below zero F last night and is a toasty 18F today. Their coop is well built, but not insulated or heated. They have heated water. Today I attached a few horse grain bags on the West facing side of the pen where they like to hang out to cut down on the wind. They always have access to layer crumbles, but I've been throwing out at least a cup and a half of scratch for them for extra warmth. Do I need to worry about giving them too much scratch since it is not their only source of food?

    The hens are young, but are still laying every 3-4 days. I had plans to turn a former rabbit hutch into a protected winter run for them, but now it's frozen to the ground and probably won't be moved for a while. They hop out onto the hay covered snow happily in the morning. Am I exposing them to too much cold weather? They are always free to go into the coop. They seem happy, but I don't want to go out some morning to find Silkiesicles. These are my first chickens, and I live in New Hampshire. Thanks!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    That's a cold climate for silkies. I'd just keep an eye on them.
    You can definitely give too much scratch. It can make them fat and cut overall protein intake.
     
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I live in Wisconsin so a similar climate, I never had a cold silkie, on really cold days I would leave them in the coop, in the run I use the snow and hay bales to block some wind, shovel out any deep snow and put down hay or bedding to stand on like you are doing, I never did see them as less hardy even though I have read it, I now have frizzle cochins and they are fine as well. I wouldn't worry.
     
  4. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Silkies originated in the Himalayas, I don't think those temps are too cold for them :)

    I don't see temps as cold as yours often, but occasionally. I do nothing special for mine other than add a little extra bedding when I clean out the coop real good before winter. Their coop isn't insulated and they have access to their runs no matter the weather. My Silkies actually seem happier in the cold, the heat and humidity in the summer seems to bother them more.
     
  5. snhchick

    snhchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks to all of you who have replied. I'll definitely cut down on the scratch. Is it better to give them BOSS to help warm them up or does that also fall into the treat category? They have pretty deep bedding, probably about 6 inches, which is a mix of pine shavings, leaves and a hay mixture called Coop Clean. They roost for part of the time, but there are burrows in the bedding where they also seem to cuddle together. I'm guessing they dig into the litter if they get cold.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    BOSS has good protein but a lot of fat too.
    There's no magic food that will 'keep them warm'.
    Keeping them in good balanced nutrition is the best thing to keep them healthy.
    A dry, well ventilated but windproof coop is essential.
    But I've never had silkies.
     
  7. snhchick

    snhchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A change in weather brings me to another question. Today is pretty warm (high of 48F), but it is raining and expected to get down to 26F tonight. Am I correct in keeping the Silkies in the coop today? I've read that they will get soaked to the skin, and I am worried that they will freeze overnight. I hate to keep them inside when it is warmish. Am I doing the right thing?
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Keep the feathers dry. My birds much tougher yet they are more stressed with rains occurring with rapid drop to below freezing than they are stressed by temperature below 0 F. Freezing of outer feather parts can make so typical air trap providing insulation does not operate.
     
  9. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    That pretty warm temperatures, I wouldn't worry, mine have always been okay in any weather, I never found them to be any less hardy, let them outside if they wish to go.
     

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