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Chickens in the winter

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by trulyblessed, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. trulyblessed

    trulyblessed In the Brooder

    Jun 4, 2011
    So I live in Michigan. We are building our coop right now and insulating it. How do chickens do in the cold weather? Do they mostly stay in their coop all day or do they venture out in the snow. Sorry if this is a dumb question lol, I am brand new to this. Their run will have a roof so hopefully they will have some ground uncovered by snow. Are they ok in the freezing temps or is there ever a temp where it's unsafe for them in their coop? Just trying to think ahead. Thanks.

  2. BairleaFarm

    BairleaFarm Songster

    May 3, 2011
    Georgetown, KY
    Alot of them do fine in the cold. Look at the breed list and it will tell you how they do in what weather. I haven't had chickens in the winter but from what I can tell they go out in the snow. Frost bite on the feet are something you need to look out for. IIRC 2x4 perches are better than round perches for preventing this. Regardless of how you insulate be sure you've still got some ventilation. And most important be sure there water doesn't freeze.
  3. Montana-Hens

    Montana-Hens Songster

    Feb 20, 2008
    Buxton, Montana
    Properly chosen breeds (small or cushion combs, denser feathers, heavy breeds) will do just fine in an unheated insulated coop.

    You will need to make sure they have liquid water. I like the heated dog dishes.

    This list will,rightly so, tell you will also need ventilation without drafts. I know it seems like an oxymoron, and it will likely take you a bit to get that right. I have vents in my coop that are adjustable and I judge my winter humidity by the condensation or frozen condensation on the window in the coop in the winter.

    Mine do not have a covered run. Most days even the coldest days they spend some time outside.

    I live in the high country in Montana. We have long cold winters. The howling winds and temps that dip in to 20 below regularly for days and 50 will happen each year a few days. There are folks on the list who are from Alaska they are who I modeled my situation after. I would suggest you do lots of reading concentrating on folks who live in the northern latitudes and take advice from them. Cold is relative and you need to look at advice from folks who look at cold the same way you.

    Best of luck you can do it1
  4. nobodyherebutuschickens

    nobodyherebutuschickens Songster

    Dec 20, 2010
    Erie, Colorado
    Earlier this year, we had a lot of BITTER cold and plenty of snow. I felt so bad for the chickens! Turns out, the cold-hardy breeds we chose did very well. It always amazes me how chickens are very good at generating heat, be it sitting on eggs at just the right temp or snuggling in a corner of the roost to ward off winter. We did turn on the heat lamp for a few of the very coldest days, and we put up some thick styrofoam in the roof and sides. Of course, they did have a very fun time EATING some of it, but that's another story... The water kept freezing, which was a pain, but if you are willing to change it several times a day and empty it at night or risk the fire danger of getting a heated waterer, it'snot so bad. Some of the girls with larger combs got a bit of frostbite on their combs, and I had to "rescue" several stupid chickens who stood around in the snow and got cold and wouldn't move. I shuffled away a patch of the snow for them to walk around in. Also, a good reminder of what happens to wet objects that come into contact with cold metal: consider how much metal you want to come into contact with when you take care of your chickens. [​IMG] Good luck!
  5. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    As mentioned get a good cold hardy chicken. My chickens do alot better in the cold than they do in the heat.

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