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Chicks in winter?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by KDOGG331, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    So my dad hired landscaping people this morning (still here) and one of them has chickens and ours have been outside for a few days now and apparently he said that he's worried about them (ours) and doesn't think they'll make it through the winter. He says they have to have really good feathers. Well, mine look fully feathered to me? And I know people do put them outside young but now I'm worried. They turned 8 weeks old today. They look fluffy enough but they do look sort of small in terms of body size and body fat and everything. Should I put them back in the garage for the winter or will they be okay? If I put them in the garage we could clean more of it and make a much bigger area than the brooder and then either bring them back and forth to the dog kennel again or just let them free range. I don't think the garage is much warmer than the coop though but I don't know, I'm worried now. I thought they would be fine but what if not? We're in MA and this winter will probably be bad again when it finally hits but by then they'll be even older. I don't know, what do you guys think?
     
  2. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What do you mean by outside? Certainly you still have a coop for them to go into? You shouldn't just lock chickens of any age outside with no shelter, that being said get a coop or use your existing one and leave it open so they can get back inside if they need to, that way if your worried about it you could give them a light for a few more weeks to stay warm, if they go under the light then they are still wanting heat, if they don't then they're fine, generally if they're not huddling in a pile they're ok heat wise. But they do need a shelter of some sort from the inclement weather
     
  3. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Oh no, yeah, they have a coop. Sorry for the confusion. I just meant outside instead of in the garage. They are in a chainlink dog kennel with a TSC coop kit we took the run off. Adding an HC skirt and roof. We just had an escapee cause they were all inside and they brought the leaf blower on the deck and lawnmower in backyard now and an EE I guess flew on the roof and.got out. Put her back in though and they're in "stay together" mode now. But yeah. It's very warm here this week.

    This id the current forecast hahah ridiculous for December. Normally 30s and 40s. But we did just have a few very cold nights.

    I guess maybe that's why they're worried.

    But yeah, he's just saying I think about their feathers not being enough yet or something.

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  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    They will be fine. I have had 3.5 week olds (nearly feathered completely) outside without heat with overnight temps in the high 30s/low 40s.
     
  5. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    That's good to know, thanks! :)

    But yeah, I think he was.more talking about when real winter hits - this weather's a bit of a fluke. It normally should be those same temperatures - high 30s low 40s - by now. Instead it's set to be 63 on Christmas Eve.

    Even if the temps are fine, will the quick switches from lows to highs to lows be okay?

    When real winter eventually hits it can be in the 30s, 20s, 10s/Teens, sometimes, though not too too often, it will get to negatives or single digits and lots of blizzards and snow, at least year. Last year broke records. Though by then they should be bigger and basically adults anyway. That's usually January and February. Though it should normally be colder now.

    Today was VERY windy and gusty though.

    Should I maybe put something up to block the wind?
     
  6. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your chickens will be fine in the temperatures you mention, I do not provide heat and my coop is well ventilated and I'm in northern Wisconsin.

    This is a weird el nino year so obviously it's not overly cold and we haven't hardly gotten any snow but normal years see snow accumulation by mid November to early December and we are snow covered from then until mid April. Least year we were getting unseasonably cold temps overnight of -10 to -25 overnight in early November. Or normal winter day in December is probably mid tend to mid 20s above zero for highs when it gets cold at night is easily 0 and have numerous extended cold days of -10 to -38 is the coldest I've recorded myself in recent years. Any my chickens have no heat and no insulated coop.

    Just be sure to always have access to a coop and that it's large enough for them to stay in because when you get snow accumulation or high winds and stormy weather the chickens will likely prefer to stay inside the whole time.

    Just remember ventilation is key to healthy winter chickens, you cannot have to much air movement unless of course it is causing a draft on the birds, sometimes it's hard to accomplish maximum ventilation without drafting the chickens in a small coop. Try to keep ventilation across the top of the coop well above the roosting birds that will keep the moisture and ammonia gases out, no moisture equals no frost bite on the comb
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
  7. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Thank you so much for the info! I figured the adults would be fine when they get to be that age but wasn't sure about them now. I thought they were fine but the guy ha me.worried. and one seemed almost naked or red in the rear when the wind blew her feathers up. I'm sure she's fine though amd will block the.wind maybe.

    They have access all day and you're right - they were in a lot today and a few days ago when it was raining. The coop is definitely not big enough though so I'm going to have to maybe add a roof on one side and/or walls of the run so they can still have a little bit of outdoor space without being rained on or frozen. Maybe put something around 3 sides of the inner run so they can huddle under there if they want without being fully inside. Only problem with that though is the door on one side which I usually like to leave open so they can run straight through instead of always having to go around and they love that feature. I guess I could always just cut a chicken size hole though where the door is and/or leave room for the door to shut. Or just make them go around and put it on anyway.

    The ventilation in the coop though is where it might be challenging. It's small and a kit so the roosts are those thin square bar things and low so harder to not have drafts. That said, it is actually pretty well vented. There's a small area above the pop door and then a square inside the back door, both covered in HC, then a small plexiglass window on one side. Not ventilation but looks nice. The back one I think is sort of bird height. They often cram in the nest box (singular cause though there's 3 it's always in one) though though may be starting to use the roosts. Also between the doors and walls appears to be tiny gaps that may let drafts in. The kits a cheap Chinese made thinf so that's probably why haha it's fairly nice though but yeah.
     
  8. GodofPecking

    GodofPecking Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They'll be fine, and if you want to give them a fast fix that puts an end to the argument, you could do what I do, I live in a place colder than you and raise the chicks outdoors. I use an old fridge with a chook size hole in it to give them shelter from ice, snow, and the freezing effects of exposure from the sky. Ice forms on pans of water outside, but the tiny chicks are all fine in a fridge, which after all, is designed for separating warm from cold.

    The fridge looks like a fridge, nothing to see there, it is laid down on it's side or it's back, I have done both. It depends if you want to hose it out with or without a drain or lift it up to hose it out, that sort of thing. Here is detail of the entries, which are overdone because I am paranoid about them eating insulation. Other solutions to that are probably out there and easier to do.

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    yes, you see it right in that second one, those are fridge shelves used as an attached small yard for the brooder.
     
  9. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Or you can listen to people who raise chickens in the cold areas of the United States rather than taking the advice of a guy from Australia who seals his birds up in a fridge with no ventilation other than their door.
     
  10. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Chicken Obsessed

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    Thank you both for the input!

    I did see this debate on the other thread earlier today so I won't start it up again :p

    That said, even if this works for you, which maybe it does if your birds are healthy, I would definitely be worried about the ventilation thing even if yours vents (how does yours smell? I know from the cat's litter box and now the chicks if it smells that's the ammonia). But not even just that but I think it would be too small for them and especially when they got bigger. But maybe you just mean as a huddle type thing to go in instead of wrapping the run?
     

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