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Chickens and Winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by mandierae, May 17, 2011.

  1. mandierae

    mandierae Hatching

    May 13, 2011
    Hello everyone! I know that chickens can stand pretty cold temps as long as the coop is not drafty. My question is can they be allowed to go outside in the winter? and if so is there a certain temp at which it would be to cold for them to go out? I am trying to decide how big to make my coop and if they will have to be cooped up alot in the winter I am thinking I should make it bigger than the recommened 2-3 sq ft per chicken. Any info or advice would be great! Thanks in advance to all that answer!

  2. darkmatter

    darkmatter Songster

    Jul 10, 2009

  3. ColbertChick

    ColbertChick In the Brooder

    Apr 22, 2011
    [​IMG] Good to know!! It looks like where I live (in Winter)!
  4. JackE

    JackE Crowing

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    During the winter, I would open the popdoor for them. THEY would decide if it was too cold or windy. Sometimes they would come out, other times, no. You are right to think about allowing more room for them. I've heard that in smaller coops, Chicken stress levels can go up, causing problems like bullying, feather plucking.
    Goodluck, Jack
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    Agree. They pretty much decide. Mine are given the opportunity on sunny, calm winter days, but they seldom take it for more than a half hour. They are contented to scratch around inside the barn where it dry and that awful white stuff isn't under their feet. I'm sure different breeds are different as are different individuals.
  6. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    We have an enclosed run, and we go and cover 2 sides of it and the top with a heavy duty plastic from home depot. We cover the sides that the wind normally comes at, and we also cover the roof. The girls have an almost snow free run during the winter, and the plastic stops the wind, but leaving the one side opens allows to ventilation.
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    If you live in an area where the depth of snow is deeper than their legs are long, you need to either shovel for them or cover at least part of the run with something that will keep out snow and hold up to the snow load. Otherwise, they'll be stuck inside.

    We mostly let the chickens decide where they want to be. We lock them in the coop when a blizzard is coming. Since mine don't go out much when the high for the day is below zero, we usually lock them in then, too. It helps the coop stay warmer, especially going into a night when it's going to get down to -20 to -30. We don't heat the coop in winter. Usually, though, it doesn't get that cold. Most of the time they come and go as they wish. On colder days, I see them go back to the coop more often to warm up. When it gets cold enough, they just decide to spend the day inside.

    I don't think I've ever housed them with less than 5 square feet per chicken. When it comes to walking in snow or being out in the cold, some chickens are more fussy or less fussy, than my chickens.

  8. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    If you can, I'd still try to build larger than 2-3 sq. ft. per bird. That's really a small amount of space for a coop in an area with winters. My pop door is opened every day of the year, sun-up to sun-down, whether there's sun, snow, rain, etc. I'd probably shut mine in if we were having tornado issues, but that's about it.
    But I think you'll find that they'll still spend a LOT more time indoors in winter than in spring, summer, fall (at least based on the amount of coop poop I find in winter time...lol). And as was mentioned, they most likely won't go out into several inches of snow unless you shovel an area for them, or unless they can fly to a nearby covered area. If you can cover an area for them just outside the pop door, that will help draw them out. Even a sheet of plywood sitting across a couple of saw horses would work...
  9. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Songster

    Feb 8, 2010
    Ridgefield CT
    They really recommend 4 feet of indoor space per bird, but if you can go bigger, do it.
  10. Noymira

    Noymira Songster

    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    Our coop (a shed we are converting) is 10'X10' and we have 14 chickens, that gives us about 7 sq ft per bird. We also have a covered area behind the shed I'm going to mostly close in during the winter with tarps over the wire to give them some "outdoor" time once the snow gets deep, that's 10'x8'. We are also building a run of about 12'x18', but I won't be shoveling most of that in the winter.

    I'm hoping that between the coop and covered area (180 sq/ft) the chickens will be ok in the worst part of the winter. That will give them just under 13 sq ft per bird.

    I think if you are in an area that gets a lot of snow, the more space you can give them the better!

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