Bringing indoors - winter emergency (sort of)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Horsea, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. Horsea

    Horsea Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, kids. Not sure where to put this. We are having really cold weather here on the prairies and since I have only two hens left in their 10 X 12 (insulated, well lit, somewhat heated) house, they are getting uncomfortably cold. Here is what I did, just this morning:

    So, I brought these two Delawares (age 5 years, 7 months, still laying a bit) into the house to stay in an unused shower stall in a small bathroom. Not much light in there, but they are eating and drinking. I've lined the floor of the shower stall with newspaper.

    I put a candle in the bathroom so it doesn't smell too bad, but I know I'm going to have to change that paper on the floor and am anticipating some grief. You know what chickens are like! I don't want to let them into the bathroom itself.

    Could anyone make any comments or give helpful advice, things I have to know? Many thanks. [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aaaww am no expert and not sure how cold it is there but you sound amazing and am sure they will be very happy. Maybe supply some boredom busters such as veggies hung up and bottles with holes-full of feed?

    It drops to -5 now and again here in England and my coop has no heating so I make sure that the floor is lined with cardboard and that there's inches of bedding. Was covering the roof but it was causing moisture which is worse I believe.

    Would love to see pics of your little lovelies in the shower[​IMG]
     
  3. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    I can see that with just two hens it might be hard for them to warm up that size coop or keep each other warm.

    I just have a couple questions though:

    How do you know they are "uncomfortably cold"?

    What are the temps outside when you are bringing them in? Temps in coop? Humidity levels?

    What has changed from past winters? Were there more hens last year?

    How long do you plan on keeping them inside?

    You see, one of the things I have learned here is that chickens acclimate to cold, and if we bring them inside or heat them up outside, they lose that acclimation and may more easily succumb in some way to cold temps when returned to cold temps.

    Rather than bringing them inside, if it were me, I might try to fashion a smaller enclosure IN the coop for them to use, and then see if they use it. They will use it if they need to in order to keep warm.

    Mine are outside right now, not huddled together, and it is 3F. They have found a slightly weather protected area near the house. They are not even in the run.

    There is even a nice little area directly under the coop filled with straw. Are they under there? Nope. Silly chickens.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  4. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Well, I do understand your reasoning and compassion, but I'm also concerned about a candle, newspaper, and chicken dust and dander in a small room. [​IMG]Chickens fly, and they could fly right into it. Of course the flapping would probably blow out the candle before it caused a fire, but imagine hot wax on a wing, foot or face....yeah. My chickens (including Silkies) are living outside in an unheated and uninsulated coop, and this morning it was -19 F. We've also had many days of sub zero temps before this just this winter....-23 below with a wind chill of almost 50. Here are mine outside during a balmy 9 degree day, and notice the Silkies in the middle of the group. Now, what's right for me and my flock doesn't necessarily mean it's right for yours, or within your personal comfort zone, I certainly get that.

    [​IMG]

    @mobius is on the right track...they might be better off with a smaller enclosure inside the larger one if you can swing it. I know not all of us have a secondary little coop hanging around, (I've wished I did several times!) but if you can get them to use a huddle box, which is a cardboard box with or without a reflective space type blanket lining it, that would help, I think. You might have to push them in there at dusk a time or two, but once they figure out that it's warmer in there they may well use it. Just turn the box so the open side is down, cut a hole for entry and exit, and fill it with fresh straw or even pine shavings if that's all you have.

    Of course, now that they've been a day or so, it might be a little harder on them to transition back. Let us know how they (and you) are doing!!
     
  5. Horsea

    Horsea Out Of The Brooder

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    @PaulaMc Thanks for your suggestions. I took your advice and hung some vegetables from the tap. One of them is pecking at it. So, you are in England. I'm on the Cdn prairie. It is -22 degrees Celsius. So, when you say it is -5 degrees over there I guess you mean Celsius, too? I mean, it doesn't get to -5 degrees Fahrenheit, does it?

    @Mobius. Thanks for your comments! Last year I had a whole bunch more chickens, yes. I believe that my hens are too cold because one of them has a large comb which looks frostbitten. That was enough for me to decide. The other hen also had a large comb, but a predator got into their enclosure 2 years ago and attacked a bunch of them. They all survived by this one's comb was torn off.

    Temperature outdoors right now, middle of the day, is -22 degrees Celsius. Temp. in coop is below freezing. It's bearable right now, as there are windows that bring sunshine in + a bit of heat I provide. At night, it's hell on wheels. There's a lamp over the water bucket and overnight it freezes. It does not usually freeze during the winter but during these ultra-cold spells it does.

    I am amazed that your chickens seem to be contented in 3 degree fahrenheit weather (that would be ca. -16 Celsius). But at night, what do they do? It would be a whole different kettle of fish.

    How I wish we all followed the same temperature system...but I still recall the formula for converting one to the other from school, lo these many years ago.

    Thanks so much for entering this discussion and giving your views and advice. If the outdoor daytime temps go up to, say, 13 below Celsius, I will return them. They'll manage the change, I suspect. They are old, yet still lay and look healthy and lively. They don't moult, they are too robust and well fed to let that happen! (Moulting is a sign of malnutrition, I am pretty sure. My chickens, all the breeds I have had, never moulted, except for two and it was mild. FWIW. Knock wood.)
     
  6. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    OMG! Was not au fait with Celsius and Fahrenheit difference but is 3 around -16? And your hens are outside? -3 for me is 26f so really not a problem ha ha.
    Three of mine are ex batts that have fattened and feathered up, I want to acclimatise and 3 are silkies. English weather is generally wet and miserable but does not usually dip below 23f so I would assume that no additional cover needed over the coop? 3 inches of bedding on top of cardboard and most lower drafts eliminated-does this sound OK?

    Thanks Mobius
     
  7. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    Lol, at night they are in the coop on their roost. Unheated and uninsulated and well-vented with pop door open and upper ventilation. They raise the temp in the coop 10-15F every night and come tumbling out in the day. I give them warm water and warm FF in the morning. They are fine. I put castor oil on their combs once in a while. Not frostbitten yet. The frostbite on combs is usually due to high moisture in the air, not temp alone.
     
  8. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Love seeing your silkies out in the snow and looking great. Only got mine a couple of months ago and was worried they'd be too cold. Can relax now.

    Thanks x
     
  9. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yes -16C. mm-hmm! And they are outside and busy. And @Blooie and others have far colder temps than I and their chickens are fine.

    I would say (others please weigh in) at least double the bedding, leave pop door open and vent upper area as much as possible. Frostbite occurs with high humidity and temps around 32F.

    This might help (shameless plug): https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...ventilation-experiment-post-your-results-here

    Let us know what you think!
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  10. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes Horsea- Celsius ha ha. Lots of rain here but thankfully temperatures not too low. Hope your babies enjoy their veggies.

    Please let me know the conversion rule- had to google it ha ha.

    Not sure though that moulting is a sign of malnutrition- am sure it is a natural process. May be wrong ....
     

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