Cold snap & first winter with chickens

BrittanyL15

In the Brooder
Jun 21, 2020
18
13
41
My 5 chickens have a coop with an attached run that has a roof and is covered with plastic on 3 sides but has an opening on one side under the coop for ventilation. We are having our first cold front tonight and tomorrow with a high of 4 and -32° windchill. Do I still allow them to venture into their run tomorrow if they want to? Or do I not even let them choose cause its so cold? I attached a picture of the coop and run so you can see what I'm taking about. I am so worried about them since this is our first winter and its so cold and I love them so dang much.
20200708_115406.jpg
 

WindingRoad

Crowing
Nov 21, 2018
1,765
3,037
283
Maine
My 5 chickens have a coop with an attached run that has a roof and is covered with plastic on 3 sides but has an opening on one side under the coop for ventilation. We are having our first cold front tonight and tomorrow with a high of 4 and -32° windchill. Do I still allow them to venture into their run tomorrow if they want to? Or do I not even let them choose cause its so cold? I attached a picture of the coop and run so you can see what I'm taking about. I am so worried about them since this is our first winter and its so cold and I love them so dang much. View attachment 2461755
Oh Boy. Chickens temp run around 106F. Put your hand under a wing warm under there right? Now when one of them is in the nest box put your hand under them. Warmer under there. They are a cheap incubator. As you can see in my profile I live in Maine. It gets cold here. People ask me if I heat my coop. I tell them I have 13 mini heaters in my coops at night and proceed to give them the names of those mini heaters. I won't bore you here. LOL Do you have good ventilation in the coop. Dry chickens are warm chickens. Humid poorly ventilated coops are NOT DRY. If you have frost on your walls of the coop in the morning you don't have enough ventilation. Add more.

As the previous poster stated they will go out if they want to if not not to worry. My birds don't like rain or wind. So they stay in on those days. If it's just misting they might go out for a while. Let your chickens decide.

Chickens have two coats just like some dogs. They drape that down coat over their feet. Make sure they roost overnight so they can do that.
 

Callender Girl

Crossing the Road
Sep 18, 2018
3,109
18,093
766
North Central Iowa
I always worry about my birds in the worst of winter; we were under blizzard warning from noon yesterday until midnight. I did keep mine cooped yesterday because of the blowing snow, but -- as others have said -- chickens are pretty good at deciding whether they should venture out.

When it's this cold, I do pay extra attention to making sure they have access to unfrozen water and I give them extra feed -- even a handful of scratch -- to help them generate their own warmth.

The actual temps here last winter got to -22 degrees before the wind chill and all my chickens survived. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck, running outside all day to check on everybody.
 

GC-Raptor

Free Ranging
5 Years
Jul 26, 2016
5,683
11,696
671
Connecticut, USA
We are having our first cold front tonight and tomorrow with a high of 4 and -32° windchill. Do I still allow them to venture into their run tomorrow if they want to? Or do I not even let them choose cause its so cold?
I let my chickens choose except during a severe winter storm.
I have two coops, a pullet coop and a hen coop that I open at 5 am daily.
Pullets, 8 months old come out after they eat, no matter the weather.
Hens, 28 months not so much if it's windy or cold.
Pens are partially covered.

Friday was windy and raining, pullets came out.
20201225_051629_resized.jpg

Hens did not.
20201225_051645_resized.jpg

They stayed inside coop.
20201225_051710_resized.jpg

Looking in through the pop door.

This morning was cold 15F, pullets came out, Hens didn't. GC
 

WindingRoad

Crowing
Nov 21, 2018
1,765
3,037
283
Maine
I let my chickens choose except during a severe winter storm.
I have two coops, a pullet coop and a hen coop that I open at 5 am daily.
Pullets, 8 months old come out after they eat, no matter the weather.
Hens, 28 months not so much if it's windy or cold.
Pens are partially covered.

Friday was windy and raining, pullets came out. View attachment 2464911
Hens did not. View attachment 2464912
They stayed inside coop. View attachment 2464914
Looking in through the pop door.

This morning was cold 15F, pullets came out, Hens didn't. GC
Chickens are smarter than the average bear. good luck.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,722
27,537
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
I figure that chickens know better how to be chickens than I know how to be a chicken so I let them choose between in and out, shelter or exposure to the weather.

I'm not in a place that gets deep cold, but I do get hurricanes (I lost count of how many this summer), and intense storms. I've seen them out in seriously unpleasant weather -- well-protected by their thick feathers.

The only thing that seems to keep them in their coop is when it's raining sideways so I set up straw bales as wind baffles to offer shelter from any direction since our storms come from all points of the compass. :)

There was a thread in the coop and run section recently about a "sunroom" -- a clear panel lean-to thing that sounded like a great idea for cold-climate winters.
 

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