cold weather with only two birds

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mika4me, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. mika4me

    mika4me Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2010
    Sacramento
    I only have two birds right now. I am planning to get more in the spring, but that leaves these two with only each other for warmth thru the winter. They are three months old and very fluffy and fully feathered. They have a nice, dry house with no leaks at all and only a little bit if draftiness by the top vent. I have been reading about how chickens in Minnesota and Alaska happily brave the elements and am wondering whether my two California girls are just wimpy, or whether having only two makes them work harder to stay warm. They LOVE their house and want to stay in it all day unless I lure them out with treats. They also have a large run and the ability to free range for a couple of hours every day, but they usually just go back inside and hang out. We are having a pretty sizable storm right now (by CA standards anyway). It is in the high 30s but very windy (Sacramento valley) and rainy and generally unpleasant. When I open the henhouse to check on the birds, I can hear the wind howling. They were sitting there this evening in a corner looking miserable. Do they need a ceramic heat lamp? Is the change in weather just freaking them out because they aren't used to it? We have had a couple of prior storms and they behaved the same way... Any thoughts on the idea that two birds might need some external heat source to stay warm? I don't want to coddle them, but I want them to both stay comfortable until they have a larger flock to huddle with. They both seem very healthy and chirpy and happy when the sun is shining...
     
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I'm just happy I've found someone's chickens that make MY chickens seem less wimpy...lol. [​IMG] What is the size of your coop? And what are winter temps in Sacramento??? Depending on these factors, you may opt to add a bit of heat come full winter time, as two birds in a decent sized coop are at a big disadvantage.
    Now at this point, I'd say the girls huddling together is due to the winds of your storm, plus their age. I doubt even the tough, half polar bear-half chicken birds of Alaska like the wind much...I know mine don't, even when it's not that cold. And my younger girls (5 months) tend to hang out inside the comfort of the coop much more than my older hens (my "older" girls did the same thing LAST winter). So NEXT winter WILL be easier on your chickens than this year.
     
  3. mika4me

    mika4me Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2010
    Sacramento
    The house is 12 square feet and the run is 20. We get to the low 30s in winter, which isn't bad at all. We do have major wind, though. It comes right up the Delta, and 30+ mph gusts aren't uncommon. Pretty yucky, especially when there's rain attached. When I first moved here, I thought I'd been relocated to the steppes- wind all winter and flat, flat, flat... We did situate our coop in the most protected area of the yard, though, so the chickens have some protection. Their house is between the gardening shed and the garage, as is their free range area. I'm glad to know other young chickens dislike the wind. I was beginning to think I had just brought mine up badly. [​IMG]
     
  4. chickenriot

    chickenriot Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 12, 2010
    Brownsboro, Tx.
    I have young chickens also and have a heating pad in their coop that I turn on low whenever the temperature drops below 45. It's like having another bird to snuggle with but doesn't heat up the coop like a light would.

    I placed the heating pad between 2 pieces of flannel to protect it from their droppings and change out the top layer everyday when I clean the coop. It's a little extra trouble to go to but they're worth it to me.

    Some people have cautioned that if you get them used to heat and the electricity goes out they will suffer. That's why I like the heating pad.

    One more thing..You might want to make the area they sleep in a little smaller (block off part of the coop) so that they don't have to work so hard to stay warm. Also, maybe add more pine shavings for extra insulation.

    Good luck with your chickies.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2010
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    So then your coop is about 3x4??? If so, then that's good for this winter.
    If you haven't yet, you might consider nailing/screwing sturdy tarps over the prevailing wind side(s) of your run (just for the winter months). It doesn't look great, but it sure encourages the chickens to go outside. If 30 or so is your winter low for the most part, then I don't think you'll need to worry about adding any heat. I'd just make sure they have plenty of bedding, no drafts, and some ventilation up high.
     
  6. mika4me

    mika4me Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 20, 2010
    Sacramento
    Yep, 3 by 4 feet. Putting a tarp over the side of the run is a good idea. We'll give that a try. I am new to chickens (obviously) and having lots of fun but pretty paranoid about messing up and killing them off by accident. I am used to dogs giving me that "I can't believe you're doing this to me" look when I send them outside for a potty break, but I never expected to get that same look from chickens.[​IMG]
     

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