Chickens sleep outside in cold?

Caity

Songster
7 Years
Apr 12, 2012
76
38
104
Central, NC
Hi everyone,

We have a small flock of four, and they regularly try to sleep on their outdoor roost. Usually it's not a problem, we just make them go in their coop when it gets dark. But we're traveling for the holidays and I'm not about to make our chicken-sitter come tuck in our hens. Do you think it will hurt them if they spend the night outside? The temperature is going to be in the mid-thirties. Thanks for your help!

Caity
 

gritsar

Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
13 Years
Nov 9, 2007
28,906
325
661
SW Arkansas
How secure is your pen? How many predators do you have to deal with?

I would try removing any roosts in their pen and perhaps adding a light that comes on in the evening to encourage them to roost in their coop. A well built coop is safer than a pen for chickens, no matter how sturdy the pen looks or is built.
 

Crafty-Duck

Songster
7 Years
May 27, 2012
1,178
59
148
Lucky Duck Pond
I myself would worry sick about leaving them out of their coop
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but it's all about how secure your pen is and if you what to chance it.
 

Caity

Songster
7 Years
Apr 12, 2012
76
38
104
Central, NC
The run is predator-proof, so I'm not too worried about any animals getting in. We've had at least one invasion-attempt by a critter, and it didn't get anywhere close to getting in. I'm mostly worried about the cold, it being in the mid-thirties that week.
 

aoxa

Crowing
8 Years
Aug 8, 2011
19,042
1,207
421
Shediac Cape NB, Canada
My Coop
My Coop
Your run does look very secure. However, if it is raining or snowing, I would not want to leave them out. They'd get wet and cold, and frosty. Have you considered winterising your run?

IE: Adding plastic around it to keep the elements out? If you did this, they'd be fine roosting outside. :)
 

Caity

Songster
7 Years
Apr 12, 2012
76
38
104
Central, NC
Thanks for the suggestion Flockmaster. The weather is supposed to be clear (a 0% chance of rain one night, and a 10% chance the second night), but that's never a guarantee. We'd hate to cover up the run, because then we either have to have our hen-sitter put it up and take down, or leave it up all day, and that'd probably get pretty stuffy.

I think I'll just take down the outdoor roost and see if that motivates them into the coop at night. We wanted to leave it up because they love sitting on it during the day, but I guess they'll just have to adjust!

Thanks for all the help everyone!

Caity
 

joneus

Songster
8 Years
Apr 2, 2011
344
7
126
Ballston Spa
Three of my girls have very stubbornly stayed outside on their run-roost at night. Its been getting down into the twenties and low thirties here for the last month or so and they seem fine. The run is everything proof and has a solid roof, so I'm not worried about predators. After a couple of nights, I quit worrying about the temperature too.

... tho, I might start making them go to bed with everyone else when it gets down to the teens or starts snowing... mostly because I'll start shutting them into their coop when it gets that cold out.

My point is- they'll be fine. (((HUGS)))
 

lymanmomof3

In the Brooder
7 Years
May 24, 2012
57
3
33
Southern Maine
I have the same coop as you, (The Garden Coop) with just about the same modifications you have. I wrapped the right side of the door around one side and the back with 2 tarps. The door and the bottom part below the hen house is open. Since I've done that, my Buff Orp has taken to sleeping out in the run at night. I tried moving her several times but gave up on it, she's happy there. It has been in the high teens here in Maine several days in a row now and she's happy as can be. They have down jackets on and sit on their feet. The pole is kitty-cornered in the back right and protected by the tarp so she won't get wind on her. I'll take the tarp down in the spring.

I also had something try to get in, once, and it didn't even get close. It even lost a patch of fur on the hardware cloth edge, heehee. I hope that left a mark! What a great coop plan, isn't it? It's a good feeling to know they are safe. Although, whatever it was (probably the neighbors dog) scared the crap out of them and a couple had broken beaks, probably from hurling themselves around the run in a panic. Cute little dummies that they are ;-)
 

GardenSimply

In the Brooder
7 Years
Nov 14, 2012
43
1
23
Oklahoma, US
I agree with joneus :) They will be totally fine doing what they want.

Predators aside, if talking strictly about temperature. We have five birds that are younger than the main flock, haven't started laying yet. They sleep on an outdoor roost in the run; about four feet off the ground. I have picked them up after dark and put them on the roosts inside (against my better judgment) and it hasn't changed their determination to sleep outside. We have had two weeks of temps below freezing at night. They are fine.

The roost they are sleeping on can matter. When their feet can get flat on a board, they can sit on them and keep them warm. Their combs can be brushed with a bit of coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, shea, you know, vaseline even if you don't mind that stuff if you are getting really cold temps, but some breeds just like being outside, period. If they get cold enough or have a large enough desire to, they will go inside, if not, like joneus says, they will be fine. :)
 

MANNA-PRO

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