Chickens and bad weather!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Jerseyjack, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. Jerseyjack

    Jerseyjack Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 31, 2011
    While I admit, I haven't done any research on this yet, thought I just ask since I'm cold,wet,tired and hungry. We're in the midst of a nor'easter here in the northeast, it's a cold, heavy rain with stiff winds and sometimes a mix of the white stuff. I left the birds in the coop until noon today, figuring they'd be better off inside, but when I went out to check the feed/water situation, I opened the door and all 14 bolted for freedom.

    They free range all day/everyday. This is the first real bad weather we've had since I've had the birds which are 7 months old now. These birds are probably the most friendly birds you can imagine, spoiled rotten etc..., but I have to question how smart they are? Nice large clean coop, food, water etc..., yet they're out in the storm as if it were summertime?

    I didn't plan to even release them today, but they took me by surprise, once 3-4 birds got free it was too late. Someone please chime in, and help educate me for the upcoming winter. Was I right to WANT to keep them locked up, or do they have enough sense to head back to the coop for cover if need be? Will it hurt them to be out there wet all day, in the 30 mph winds? I ask because as I said this is the first real bad weather, when they were young chicks, I know they needed to be kept warm and dry until they were old enough and "feathered out". Since they are grown, is it safe to assume they will just do what's right or am I gonna have a bunch of snot nose chickens running around in a few days?
    Markiss likes this.
  2. peterlund

    peterlund Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 29, 2010
    MA Cranberry Country
    I am in Eastern Ma. Under the same conditions. My ladies will go out in weather, but if it is terrible they will either huddle under bushes or scurry back in the coop. Do you have a run built? If not you will certainly risk the birds as winter REALLY gets here, as that is when the predators are looking all about for food, and chickens are tasty to them too. I would build them a descent sized run (with a door for those times you want them out and about) with a nice slated tarp cover. That way they can have a spot to walk about when we are under 3 feet of snow.... Good luck!
  3. Owner of Elsie and Doris

    Owner of Elsie and Doris Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 13, 2011
    I think they will be able to decide what is best for them. When it pours with rain, my girls hide under the picnic table rather than returning to their dry coop!! (even though the table has slats so the rain falls through!)
    I believe the important thing is to make sure the drinking water doesn't freeze over but as the chickens are really just walking duvets they will be fine outside. Having said that, I have watched my girls being blown down the garden by the wind!! They didn't seem to enjoy that much but were none the worse for wear!!
  4. Rosaleen

    Rosaleen Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2011
    Danville, Vermont
    Chickens have more sense than we give them credit for. Except for extreme blizzard conditions, our chickens have always had the option to be outside ( be it run or free range ). The coop is always open all day for access to nesting boxes and the girls know it.
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I'd probably keep your birds in if you KNOW a BIG storm that involves lots of snow is coming, at least until it's blown through. But I'd offer freedom as soon as the storm has passed. Any big wind storm (tornado warnings and such type winds) can injure birds if they get blown into fences, sides of buildings, ect. But regular storms of rain, or regular snow showers, I'd always offer them the choice of getting out. Some chickens have more sense than others. I think MOST know when the weather is too much for their health. But there are some who don't seem to have the sense God gave a goose (not to offend any goose owners out there who have exceptionally intelligent
  6. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Quote:This sounds like the voice of reason. The only time I keep mine locked up are during high winds. Don't want them to get hit by debris or become debris.

    Imp- Chicken sense varies by the bird and by the moment. [​IMG]
  7. nickie

    nickie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 25, 2011
    north central KY
    If they don't want to be out then they will stay in, they know where to go when they want to go inside.
  8. Jerseyjack

    Jerseyjack Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 31, 2011
    Thanks a lot for the replies, I feel much better now

    Peterlund, I did build a 24x24 run off the chicken door side of my converted 8x8 shed. None of it is covered though, yet. I plan to roof over the back 10'x 24' then wire the remaining open area. Since all they've ever really done is free range, it WAS low on my list of things to do, I appreciate the advice and info from everyone!

    Anyone else? Please.
  9. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    Quote:X2 They have been conditioned to go where they feel comfortable. When the weather gets beyond what they are comfortable or dark they will head for the coops protection.
  10. Elbowmarie

    Elbowmarie Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 21, 2011
    The 'burg
    Walking duvets


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by