Cold a** winters!

Gerty0630

Songster
Jan 15, 2019
410
762
171
SE, Michigan
This Is going to be my first winter with chickens - while I've read up on plenty of things I need to do, I still have a couple questions for the BYC community. I live in Michigan where winter got down to -17 last year in the polar vortex. Normally it does not get that cold but it's not uncommon to be in single digits and negative temps. I understand the dietary needs in the winter, I have a heated water base for the coop, all that jazz. Rig up some sh*t so they don't get bored... My question is - do chickens want to go outside of the coop in the winter, or should I attempt to let them outside during the winter? Of course on warmer days, yes, but if it's going to be a week of 10 degrees do I even bother trying to allow them outside the coop access? I have ducks as well and pretty much the majority of last winter they just stayed inside 24/7.. No interest in going out into the bitter coldness.
 

BantyChooks

Pullarius
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Premium Feather Member
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This Is going to be my first winter with chickens - while I've read up on plenty of things I need to do, I still have a couple questions for the BYC community. I live in Michigan where winter got down to -17 last year in the polar vortex. Normally it does not get that cold but it's not uncommon to be in single digits and negative temps. I understand the dietary needs in the winter, I have a heated water base for the coop, all that jazz. Rig up some sh*t so they don't get bored... My question is - do chickens want to go outside of the coop in the winter, or should I attempt to let them outside during the winter? Of course on warmer days, yes, but if it's going to be a week of 10 degrees do I even bother trying to allow them outside the coop access? I have ducks as well and pretty much the majority of last winter they just stayed inside 24/7.. No interest in going out into the bitter coldness.
My birds go outside almost all day every day. This photo was taken when it was below zero.
-1f.JPG

However, if they aren't going out at all, you may as well keep the door closed to cut down on drafts. See how they're behaving and react accordingly.
 

Gerty0630

Songster
Jan 15, 2019
410
762
171
SE, Michigan
My birds go outside almost all day every day. This photo was taken when it was below zero.
View attachment 1917540
However, if they aren't going out at all, you may as well keep the door closed to cut down on drafts. See how they're behaving and react accordingly.
Okay thank you good to know! I will start off and allow them daily access to their outdoor area and see what they seem to prefer! It was interesting to me that my ducks were not interested in the outdoors during the winter! I felt bad for them being cooped up most of the time but they chose to stay in so :confused:
 

BantyChooks

Pullarius
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Okay thank you good to know! I will start off and allow them daily access to their outdoor area and see what they seem to prefer! It was interesting to me that my ducks were not interested in the outdoors during the winter! I felt bad for them being cooped up most of the time but they chose to stay in so :confused:
:thumbsup
You'd have to use a crowbar to pry my ducks away from the outside during the winter. Even when it's so cold that humans would get frostbite in minutes if they had any exposed skin. Nutters, the lot of them.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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Southeast Louisiana
It was 4 F in Arkansas when I took this. No snow and no wind. I find that mine do not mind cold but they hate a cold wind. If a cold wind is blowing they seek shelter. But if it is calm, cold is no big deal.

Ice.jpg


Mine hate to wake up to a white world. If it snows overnight they often will not leave the coop for a couple of days. Chickens don't like change. Usually though, after a couple of days a few go out exploring. I think it helps if they have something to go outside for. Grass or weeds sticking up above the snow gives them something to forage on. Mine have made trips to good forage spots, like a compost pile, in 9" of snow. It was frozen and did them no good but they still went. If all they have is a snow-covered barren run they may be more reluctant to come out.

The snow in this photo fell after they were already out for the day. Since the change was gradual they just stayed out in it. It was just below freezing.

Snow Feb 2013.JPG


I give mine the option and let them decide.
 
Last edited:

NHMountainMan

Free Ranging
Feb 25, 2019
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New Hampshire
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It was 4 F in Arkansas when I took this. No snow and no wind. I find that mine do not mind cold but they hate a cold wind. If a cold wind is blowing they seek shelter. But if it is calm, cold is no big deal.

View attachment 1917613

Mine hate to wake up to a white world. If it snows overnight they often will not leave the coop for a couple of days. Chickens don't like change. Usually though, after a couple of days a few go out exploring. I think it helps if they have something to go outside for. Grass or weeds sticking up above the snow gives them something to forage on. Mine have made trips to good forage spots, like a compost pile, in 9" of snow. It was frozen and did them no good but they still went. If all they have is a snow-covered barren run they may be more reluctant to come out.

The snow in this photo fell after they were already out for the day. Since the change was gradual they just stayed out in it.

View attachment 1917612

I give mine the option and let them decide.
Is your run wrapped in plastic or a wind block? It's been recommended that I wrap 3 sides of my run for wind protection. Our climate is more like the OP's - shouldn't they also provide wind block?
 

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