Below Zero temperatures

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by GDReilly, Feb 12, 2016.

  1. GDReilly

    GDReilly New Egg

    Jul 17, 2014
    I live in downstate NY and this weekend we are supposed to have highs of 18 degrees and lows of -5 (windchill reaching 30 to 40 below zero). My husband and I have four chickens (two americana and two rhode island reds) whose coop is a converted swing set. The actual coop area is above ground, covered in shingles and has a hinged front door for collecting eggs and small opening on the side for the chickens to come in and out of. We are currently doing the deep litter method of bedding for them this winter with pine shavings and leaves, and plan to turn it this evening before the cold gets too bad.

    My question is: Will that be enough for them to comfortably make it through the weekend? They often sleep cuddled together and are not showing signs of frost bite. We are just concerned this may be too cold for them, and maybe we should bring them inside. Any thoughts would be great. We don't have the opportunity to add a heating light over the weekend unfortunately.
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    They don't need a heatlamp. They will be much more comfortable outside than in since they are already acclimated to the cold. As Mrs K advises - think dry instead of warm. If you have plenty of ventilation so humidity doesn't build up in the coop, you will not have frostbite issues. We have had temperature in the -20's this winter (actual air temp - not wind chill) and my chickens are just fine. Wind chill means nothing if your chickens aren't out in the wind.
  3. GDReilly

    GDReilly New Egg

    Jul 17, 2014
    Thanks for the feedback! Two of them are still molting, so I guess that is my major concern.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ditto the dry, well ventilated but draft free....if they can stay out of the wind those bare back will be fine.
    Extra dry bedding can help for them to snuggle down on.
    Plenty of a high protein balanced chicken ration...and liquid water at all times.

    Adding heat or bringing inside will not help them in the long run.

    When you say 'deep litter' do you mean a moist composting litter?
    This will not fare well in cold climes, IMO, especially in smaller coops as it adds moisture to the equation.
    I use a deep bedding, just dry pine shavings about 4-6" deep.
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Keeping them in lay will suffer as temperature drops to so low for any length of time. Energy derived from feed intake will also increase within limits the birds can process the feed as they must burn intake and potentially fat reserves to stay warm. Supplemental heating does have benefits when feed bill is part of the equation but with respect to small flocks that will not be cost effective. Biggest concern I would have involves water. When conditions such that keeping liquid water to them at all times is not practical, then I switch over to the use of soaked oats (seed oats soaked in water to hydrate them and initiate the germination process). The oats even when frozen are relatively easy for birds to chip at by pecking so birds can consume the water in the oats and the spaces between. The oats can also be part of the increase energy intake the birds must realize to at least keep weight on.

    I keep my birds in very tough conditions and they will tell you that supplemental heating is desired and they will move to it when they have a choice. I can demonstrate by putting a heat lamp out when temperatures are really cold with birds leaving the radiant area only to feed and go to roost. The problem with the small coop setup is the added cost and risk associated with fire which can be real.
  6. hellbender

    hellbender Overrun With Chickens

    Sep 2, 2013
    Grinder's Switch
    Absolutely a ...(great) [​IMG]

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