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chickens wont come out of there coop

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by bleyendfaith, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. bleyendfaith

    bleyendfaith Hatching

    Feb 28, 2014
    Hey I think I'm in way over my head here! My chickens were wonderful in the summer healthy ,layed well...this is our first winter with them. We are in Southern Ontario and like everywhere it has been extremely cold (-30C). Our chickens are Barred Rock and Road Island Reds. There coop was a wood shed we converted. We have hay in there as bedding and stacked along one wall..there is no insulation but we do have a red heating lamp hanging from the ceiling. Some have had frost bite and I think they are starting to eat there eggs. They haven't left the coop ALL winter. We had a few ice storms so the small door has been unusable and in Dec/Jan we had so many storms and bad weather they wouldnt come out and I would leave the main door shut. So on the few nice days we have had (-10,-15) they stick there heads out the door and turn around. I didn't think anything of it at first but now some are not looking so great. I think they are pecking at each other. We are only getting around 3-4 eggs a day now from the 12 chickens. I think I may have ruined my chickens. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Spring is almost here and I don't think there is much you can do right now. In the future don't use heat. They are so acclimated to it now I don't know how you can wean them by spring. Give it a try. Turn off the heat when 0C and above even overnight if forecasted and do that for a week. Then turn off heat when -5C and above for a week. Then -10C, then no heat at all.

    When using heat your chickens wont go outside in winter. Using heat raises the humidity and potential of frostbite. With your chickens staying in the coop all day you have a lot of waste making more moisture and ammonia levels. Ensure you have plenty of ventilation at top of your shed to vent out this.

    Our chickens don't like snow. I have to shovel out the run and throw down some hay to cover the ice in run. Once I do that they are outside everyday in winter. On the coldest days of -30F (-30C) they do stay in the coop until it warms up to -10F mid morning/noon-ish. I provide wind breaks via a tarp on two wind prevailing sides of run for shelter. No heat and no insulation here. Our winter is very similar to yours.

    Get rid of snow in run, put down a thin layer of hay and put their food/water outside on nice days. Make a wind break for shelter. Get them to come out.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  3. texgardengal

    texgardengal Chirping

    Nov 23, 2013
    My chickens dont come out in the cold either but I can not speak to your extreme temps as I'm in Texas. Looks like you have some good advice from someone in similar conditions....You can probably also go the "Where am I...Where are you" in the forum and find other folks in your state and find out how they are dealing with these exteme weather conditions. I've heard a lot of people on the site talking about what a horrible winter this has been. I think it's great you have not lost any! Good luck!!!! Hang in there...spring is almost here......[​IMG]
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop

    Yes, if they get too comfortable with too much heat, they will refuse to come out of the coop. Especially if they are not acclimated to the cold. Make sure you are using proper venting in your roof to suck out the moisture from pooping and breathing. That moisture has to go somewhere and if it can't escape out the roof, the moisture is going to rise and freeze and fall back on the birds. Even if the temp is -40 degrees outside. You need to keep the vents open. (1 square foot per bird) and keep them roosting low to the floor where the air is relatively still. They can survive brutally cold temps if dry and out of all wind. You can tack an old towel to the roost bar to keep their feet warm. Warm feet mean warmer birds. I would start to acclimate them to cooler temps and turn off that heat or lower the temp slowly. Once they can tolerate cold temps, they should venture outside. You may have to kick them out if they just refuse, at some point.

    Good luck and enjoy BYC!
  5. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 Free Ranging Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC!
  6. Alright [​IMG] great to have you joining the BYC flock [​IMG]

    If you are going to have that many hens in that cold of weather you might need to make some additions to this coop for your long winters or you are going to always have problem with "cabin fever" and I do believe this is just what you chickens have and a bad case of "Cabin Fever" at that ....[​IMG]

    You might want to think about making a protected run for them with over-head cover to protect them from the weather and a raised flooring of sand so the rain or floods can run off the size of the run is all up to you but ya might want to look for some reusable materials to stat the project this Spring but for you that is probably several months away and you could have losses by then so try a bail of straw on the ground I do believe it is about $ 9 Dollars here I haven't any idea the price where you are but then you need to have some kind of wire to stop it from blowing away and your chickens will have something to walk on besides the cold ground ........ [​IMG]

    Enjoy your flock [​IMG]

    gander007 [​IMG]
  7. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    I think they are too crowded in the coop- when chickens spend day after day inside a lot of hostility breaks out and they start attacking each other. They would have much more room outside. In areas that have severe winters you need to have more space per bird if they won't venture out.

  8. JadedPhoenix

    JadedPhoenix Songster

    Oct 29, 2012
    Tyro-Lexington, NC
    If I were your chickens, I'd stay inside too! Remember, if it cold for you, then they are cold too. Its common for anyone who is cooped up (no pun intended) to get a little stir crazy. If you are concerned and think that they need to come out you could go in and remove them manually from inside and they might get the idea. Anyway, spring will be here soon and I'm sure that your chickens will be fine.
  9. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Welcome to BYC. Chickens generally hate to walk in the snow. Try shoveling their run and putting down some hay or straw. Spring is coming, I promise, and they will venture outside.
  10. bleyendfaith

    bleyendfaith Hatching

    Feb 28, 2014
    Thanks everyone, so much for your replies. I feel much better and will certainly make all the necessary changes you have suggested. I'll be more prepared next year.[​IMG]

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