Cold Weather Chickens

Happy hen lover

Songster
Jan 14, 2021
256
814
156
SW Nebraska
I know! I'm glad they aren't using those nails on me. On the bright side, they keep them filed down and I don't need to do any trimming.

Yesterday there were 4 of them in the bath. They lie there until their body heat thaws the very top layer of dirt. Then the digging begins. Pretty soon everyone is trying to join in.
They are fun to watch in bath for sure!
 

Happy hen lover

Songster
Jan 14, 2021
256
814
156
SW Nebraska
Two sides of a run should be set up with wind block of some sort. I do three sides as my winter "run" area is small. In general you are blocking the direction of prevailing winds. Once that is done there is no wind chill factor it's just the temperature. A covered area is nice if you get much snow. My set up for winter is a lean to roof that slightly overhangs the front of coop and slants to ground. The coop is on slits. Plastic goes one side of that lean to and around two sides bottom of coop. I throw hay down and they have a wash basin with wood ash in it.

With the above set up my birds come out of coop every morning. It takes -20 to -30F mornings for them to want to stay in coop. The door is opened every morning, food and water are left in run. The one or two mornings they stay in coop I toss black oil seed in the coop knowing they'll go into the run late morning when temps warm up a little. Our coldest morning this winter was -12F and they all came out of coop when door was opened.

We keep Plymouth Rock and Wyandotte. Both are considered cold weather hearty breeds. The coop is vented well enough. The single comb Rock hens don't get frostbite. The Rock cockerels will lose a comb tine tip or two. Either breed cock or cockerel will lose a bit of wattle end due to their water being in a bowl.
Good advice about the wind block. Our coop is backed up to a privacy fence on north and west sides . Makes a big difference too.
 

SueT

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
May 27, 2015
9,392
28,980
947
SW MO
We had 21 below zero two days ago. (Very unusual for this far south.) My only chickens that would venture out are my Appenzeller Spitzhaubens. This breed originated in Switzerland and they seem to be very cold hardy. I plan to breed more this year.
In this pic, you see shavings spread over the snow to encourage everyone to venture out.
4B5D3E94-48F1-4A93-A46C-204CABBCFE0C.jpeg
 

linguini

Chirping
Jan 8, 2021
115
176
98
Bridgewater NJ (Central NJ)
I have learned from all the experts in the forum to trust my chickens that they know what condition they can tolerate! I close the door of the run at night and when it pours or when the snow is heavy - to keep the water and snow from coming into the run. I try to leave the door open as much as I can. They are free to roam in and out.
Where we are is not as cold as Wisconsin, but our ground is still covered with snow. Our chickens just stand along the snowbank and peck the snow when they venture out!
 

Lwaddle

Chirping
5 Years
Sep 3, 2015
16
18
77
Well all my hens survived the Texas Deep Freeze. They stayed in the Omlet coop with extra bedding, food and water. Checked on them with fresh water and treats twice a day. I even had 4 eggs laid during this time. Feeing very good about our success. It is 59 today and they are loving the sun!
 

Fintechie

Songster
Oct 23, 2019
132
295
137
New York
Here in Massachusetts, we've had some cold weather and there's a foot of snow in the run. My coop is basically a house, though, with eaves where I've kept the snow free from the entrance to the coop to the heated waterer which is housed under an attached shed roof. They spend 99% of their time inside the coop, though, coming out only if enticed with grubblies or some other treat- won't walk in the snow at all. My concern is WHY ARE WE MOLTING?? There are feathers everywhere inside the coop and two of them are showing skin where there should be feathers. What's going on?
Some of them didn’t “plan” well for molting. I had two molting in dead cold last year, one this year. But molting is possibly triggered by other factors. You can search the forums to find past discussions. Then try to see if any of other stress factors are applicable to yours.
 

Bmb

Chirping
Apr 30, 2019
34
35
54
Northern WI
I’m in the very northern part of Wisconsin so I understand struggles with snow and cold, especially this year! My flock consists of silver laced wyandottes, Buckeyes, buff Orpingtons, jersey giants, welsummers, and one welsummer rooster. Rooster has been in the garage for awhile because he got frostbite early on and the hens pecked the poor guy’s comb bloody no matter what I did to help! So he’s just healing up and hopefully able to be reintroduced soon. My orpingtons also got frostbite on their combs and the welsummers got a tiny bit as well with this recent cold snap into the negative thirties. I have a large insulated coop with lots of ventilation and no heat. I opened their chicken door every day no matter how cold it was. I only had food and water outside for most of the cold snap so they would all go out under the covered part of the run where those were periodically. Most of the time they stayed snuggled in the coop though. I did put a radiant panel near the ground for them to hang out by during they day but they didn’t use it much honestly, if they were cold they just fluffed up on the roosts. I also added food and water (far away from roosts to stay dry) in the coop because that cold just really worried me. The biggest thing I did was go in after dark and make sure they were all snuggled up on the roosts close together, if one was on a lower roost alone I pick her up and put her next to the others. Scratch grains before bed as well! I’m not adding any hens to my flock this year but next time I do I will definitely be sticking to rose and pea comb chickens. I’m determined to succeed in chicken keeping despite the harsh weather here! My pair of geese is another story and we kept them in the garage for that cold snap because they are stubborn and insist on sitting out and refuse to be rounded up to stay in their house at night.
 

Ceciliasflock

Songster
Nov 19, 2020
207
292
136
Des Moines, Iowa
I don't take the wind chill into account for the chickens, who are safely indoors. I whine about it for ME because I am outside, bundled up like little Randy in "A Christmas Story", cursing frozen latches and electric waterers that are filled with ice. And, yet, I continue to choose to live in Iowa and have outdoor critters.
lol me too! Iowa gals!
 

Kessel23

Hi Bug
Feb 6, 2018
2,467
65,786
1,182
Wisconsin
I also live in Wisconsin. My chickens like to sleep in the run all summer and it's really hard for them to switch to the coop in the winter. Usually only a few older ones do it by themselves once it gets extremly cold. I used to go out there and move them all in by hand during the sub zero snaps but I didn't this year or last. Never had any die or get frostbite on their feet. I have some get it on their combs and some that don't, I think it depends how they sleep. I have a 3 year old leghorn who has never gotten frost bite and she has quite the comb.
0414201803f.jpg

This hen made it through 3 winters sleeping in a run outside without getting any frost bite. My run top metal sheeting so no snow gets in, and most of the northern wall is wind blocked by my chicken coop. I have some birds that sleep with their head out in front of them and dont even try to tuck it in, these ones lose most of their comb and wattles to frost bite regardless of where they sleep. I've never had any bird die because it got to cold. If they have food and water and aren't over crowded they usually go through the whole winter unphased by the temps. I have all sorts of breeds and have kept a lot more in the past but dont anymore. This includes OEGBs, RIR, BA, silkies, leghorns, Egyptian fayoumi, and several other bantams. Some of these breeds you would think of as cold hardy, some you would think of as medetrainian, all of them handled the winter the same here and I've never had an issue other than frost bite on the comb.
 

kodster

Songster
7 Years
Apr 4, 2013
309
148
181
I also live in Wisconsin. My chickens like to sleep in the run all summer and it's really hard for them to switch to the coop in the winter. Usually only a few older ones do it by themselves once it gets extremly cold. I used to go out there and move them all in by hand during the sub zero snaps but I didn't this year or last. Never had any die or get frostbite on their feet. I have some get it on their combs and some that don't, I think it depends how they sleep. I have a 3 year old leghorn who has never gotten frost bite and she has quite the comb. View attachment 2545811
This hen made it through 3 winters sleeping in a run outside without getting any frost bite. My run top metal sheeting so no snow gets in, and most of the northern wall is wind blocked by my chicken coop. I have some birds that sleep with their head out in front of them and dont even try to tuck it in, these ones lose most of their comb and wattles to frost bite regardless of where they sleep. I've never had any bird die because it got to cold. If they have food and water and aren't over crowded they usually go through the whole winter unphased by the temps. I have all sorts of breeds and have kept a lot more in the past but dont anymore. This includes OEGBs, RIR, BA, silkies, leghorns, Egyptian fayoumi, and several other bantams. Some of these breeds you would think of as cold hardy, some you would think of as medetrainian, all of them handled the winter the same here and I've never had an issue other than frost bite on the comb.
I would tend to think that it's the fact that you have a roof over them so no snow gets in, plus the northern wall is wind-blocked by the coop in the run. Those are the two things that are critical to protecting them during the winter. They just feel that the run is an extension of their coop, literally.
 

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