Cold Weather and Chicks

JesseR89

In the Brooder
Jun 19, 2020
28
19
44
Westminster, MD
Hello. I’m not sure if all the particulars in our situation have been covered so I’m going to lay them all out.

We have 11 hens and 1 rooster in our flock and 1 of the hens became broody, sat on eggs and hatched 5 chicks on 10/21. The chicks are now 2 weeks old and thriving. We have left them in the coop with the rest of the flock with no issues. Mama hen takes them outside in the run during the day and occasionally free ranges when we are around to supervise.

The dilemma we are experiencing is our concern with the outside temperature. We live in Maryland and the temperatures this week have been in the low 30’s at night. The chicks have been keeping warm under mama hen since birth, but the bigger they get and further into winter we go, we are concerned if mama hen will provide enough body heat.

Should we consider adding a supplemental heat source? If so, will this hamper the bond between mother hen and growers? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


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Banana01

Songster
Feb 18, 2021
709
1,163
221
San Martin, Peru
What is the sleeping arrangement look like at night? Would the chicks be able to huddle up around the other chickens? They will outgrow sleeping under the mom eventually.

So do they have a place to sleep huddled together, and is it sheltered from wind and moisture? Even a dog crate or enclosed pet bed is an option. Anything enclosed you can put a blanket over would work too, I use puppy houses and put a blanket on the top.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,627
18,846
726
USA
The chicks have been keeping warm under mama hen since birth, but the bigger they get and further into winter we go, we are concerned if mama hen will provide enough body heat.
The chicks provide body heat too, so the total heat is mama + 4 chicks. All of that heat is neatly trapped inside the mother's feathers where she and the chicks are snuggling.

The bigger each chick gets, the more heat it produces, so the less it needs from the mother and siblings.

I agree with the other posters who say your chicks and hen should be fine.

Keep an eye out for when the hen leaves the chicks to sleep by themselves: they will probably be old enough and have enough feathers by then, but different hens raise their babies for different lengths of time, so I can't be positive about what yours will do.
 

JesseR89

In the Brooder
Jun 19, 2020
28
19
44
Westminster, MD
What is the sleeping arrangement look like at night? Would the chicks be able to huddle up around the other chickens? They will outgrow sleeping under the mom eventually.

So do they have a place to sleep huddled together, and is it sheltered from wind and moisture? Even a dog crate or enclosed pet bed is an option. Anything enclosed you can put a blanket over would work too, I use puppy houses and put a blanket on the top.
They are all enclosed in a coop for night shelter. The entire flock roosts on 2x4’s except 1 younger adult silkie who occupies one of the nesting boxes at night. The mother hen and her chicks have been occupying another nesting box, but there is plenty of floor space should they choose to move or outgrow the nesting box.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,719
13,983
656
western South Dakota
I had chicks hatch 10-14, so today, I added a plank across the roosts. I have done this in the past, and in a few days those hens will have the chicks up there roosting with the flock.

It is very common for a hen to drop her chicks at about 3-4 weeks. She just forgets them. If they have been running with the flock, they are part of the flock and it is not a problem. I think the urge to roost is partly part of this. By placing a board up there on the roost, the hens can be with the flock, and the chicks can be with the hen, even under her if they want. To me, it seems to extend the period of bonding just a bit.

It works for me. Thought I would share it with you. See if you get similar response.

Mrs K
 

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