Cold weather advice

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Hummingbird Hollow, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    OK, good old Colorado. Yesterday it was in the high 60s, it started snowing last night, accumulated about 5 inches of snow during the day. Tonight it may drop into the single digits, but should be back in the 50s by Friday. This is my first winter with chickens. I have eight almost 5 month-old pullets, all cold hearty breeds. I've built them a 4'X8' coop that I think is pretty well built and has decent insulation and I spent a bunch of time this weekend with the calk-gun reducing drafts around the main door and the egg door. But I'm still unsure about how to keep my little flock safe and happy during the winter months. I opened their pop door as usual this morning, giving them access to their enclosed run, which is built inside a large out-building (see photo) that protects the run from most of the snow and wind. They spent most of the day out in their run (high of around 27 degrees today) but were inside a good hour before dark.[​IMG]

    At what temperature or weather conditions do I keep them locked inside their coop? Can I continue to let them out to free range during the day during the winter and if so, in what conditions? At what temperature do I provide an additional heat source inside their coop? Any other good advice for me?
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  2. needlefrau

    needlefrau Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 19, 2009
    SW Washington
    I grew up in Colorado and we had chickens. The only time they weren't let into their pen when when a blizzard kept us in the house. I think they are hardier than we are.
  3. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 19, 2009
    Ours are never locked in their coop. I have pictures of one of my hens out running around the yard during the beginning of a blizzard last year. We even put their feed outside to encourage them to get out and about. It gets well below zero and very snowy here.

    Heat lamps are, likewise, never a necessity. In fact, there is a much stronger case to be made for never using one than for using one even under only the harshest conditions. As long as your chickens have a draft-free place to escape the wind, food and water they will be fine.

    Any other advice? Don't fret. Looks to me like you've got a great setup and they'll be fine.
  4. dirtsaver

    dirtsaver Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2010
    Northern Kentucky
    I think it's safe to the pop door in the morning and let them decide. If they get cold they will go back inside and warm up. Ours are in and out all day in the winter. We never had a problem.
  5. egghead@1265

    [email protected] Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 24, 2011
    Our chickens will go out in the winter, but don't like it when the snow gets so deep. Our son will usually shovel some for them, as they seem uncomfortable when it gets too deep! Can't blame them for that! We do use lights to keep them laying, as the days get very short here and not much sunlight in the winter. Also, we have freezing along with sub zero temps for a good portion of the year.

    You will know what they like by observing them!
  6. Woodcox Acre

    Woodcox Acre Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 18, 2011
    A Mt. Valley in Utah
    It looks to me like you have a good set up there. Your pretty protected. I don't know which direction your coop faces
    but it doesn't look like you'll have any trouble with weather.
  7. dirtsaver

    dirtsaver Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2010
    Northern Kentucky
    Same here! The girls just flat out do not like that white stuff!
  8. sy7up

    sy7up Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 8, 2011
    I have a almost mature easter chick, I live in new mex. so I too am worried about my chick getting too cold, she is free range and does not like her coop. (live in the city) guess since I have only one plus a duck I can bring her in. We don't have as much snow.
  9. LiLRedCV

    LiLRedCV Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 25, 2010
    Land of the Rain
    We don't keep them locked in the coop unless we can't get out of the door ourselves. Tried keeping them locked up once during Thanksgiving week 2010 when there was an abundance of snow on the ground, but they went stir crazy. Opened it up, they went about their business as normal, but went back into the coop earlier than usual as happy as can be.

    Ms. Fussy Britches out in the snow Thanksgiving week 2010 (we got over 20" that week!)
  10. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    That's a nice set up for your chickens. In general, we let the chickens decide when they want to be in the coop and when they want to be outside. We heat their water to keep it unfrozen, but don't heat the coop.

    Most of the time, they want to go out. If they get too cold outside, they just go back in the coop for a little while, to warm up. If it's really windy or the highs are below zero, then mine usually spend a lot more time in the coop.

    Mine don't mind a dusting of snow, but deep snow needs to be shoveled or they aren't going anywhere. Usually we just leave them in the run, once the snow starts to get deep here. We covered the run, so they can get outside even if we haven't done any snow removal yet, after a storm.

    The one time I confine them is before really bad storms hit, like blizzards or when a tornado is in the area.

    The other thing I do is keep a bit more of an eye on young chickens, that don't have experience with different kinds of weather. When they haven't experienced a torrential rain or seen snow before, young chickens can get stranded out in the yard the first time. They can take cover and just stay there, especially if they're afraid to walk on snow the first time. That's surprisingly common. Once they're more experienced, they're pretty savvy.

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