Do chickens get cold?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mrl8810, Oct 16, 2019.

  1. mrl8810

    mrl8810 In the Brooder

    Jun 26, 2019
    This is my first winter with chickens..I have a house for them to go into and they sleep in it sometimes but sometimes they want to sleep up higher ontop of the house...I have about thirteen chickens in that coop and about five or six go ontop of the house...they are about 12-16 weeks old and fully feathered. Not sure exactly how old but between 12-16 got them as chicks.

    I live in SC and lately its been in the mid to low 40's at night...during the winter it will average 20-40 degrees..Should I make them go back i nteh house at night or leave them where they want to lay...will they get too cold?

    I have one Grown Buff Orpington..Two Grown Rhode Island Reds..1 Lavender Ameracauna(Probably about 6 months)...Most of the chicks that lay are Rhode Island Reds/Ameracauna/White Leg horn mix. The house is made of plywood with no windows just the opening to go in and out...but the coop is made of wood and hardware cloth so when they lay on top of the house you can feel the wind blowing.

    Should I let them do what they want as far as roosting or put them in the house at night? Especially when it snows or rains or the wind is really blowing.
    BarnhartChickens98 likes this.
  2. BarnhartChickens98

    BarnhartChickens98 Crowing

    Oct 28, 2018
    Manhiem, Pennnsylvania
    Hi, it is always good to put them in the coop because once a predator finds out where they will be a snack :rolleyes:. Chicken are very cold hardy (0 degrees last year and they were fine with a small heat lamp) but it is best to have a coop with ventilation but no drafts. Here is a link to a great article . Hope I helped!
  3. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Free Ranging

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    No they're not too cold however they should be inside the coop for their own safety. If they're not using the coop you need to figure out why, whether it's a pest issue, predator scare, crowding OR... lack of light or ventilation.

    Photos of coop? Is there a light inside or how are they supposed to see to go in at night? How much ventilation do you have (in sq ft)?
    aart and feathermaid like this.
  4. feathermaid

    feathermaid Egg Obsessed

    Feb 5, 2018
    Northwest Oregon
    My Coop
    With no windows and only one opening, it doesn't sound like there's enough ventilation or light coming in to let stragglers find their way to the roosts. Even if it's still light outside, it'll be much darker in the coop, and chickens have poor night vision and won't go where they can't see. Inadequate ventilation makes it stuffy inside and some birds just won't go in... the ones that do can become susceptible to respiratory infections. About 1 SF of vent openings per bird, placed up higher than the roosts or along the eves, will allow ammonia fumes from droppings and moisture buildup to escape, and help keep your birds healthy.

    Another possibility is if your coop isn't big enough, they just won't all fit. It might appear that if you placed them all side by side there'd be plenty of room, but bossy chickens hashing out their pecking order will push others off the roost. Some birds just don't want to fight for it, and choose to roost elsewhere. A total of 16 linear feet (two 8' roost bars) should be enough for the amount of birds you have after they reach full adult size.

    Chickens do naturally want to roost in the highest available place. How are they getting to the top of the house? Is the coop itself inside a secure run? Covered? If so, they might be safe there, but the coop roof will get coated in poop.

    If the top of the house is located out in the open, then they'll likely be discovered by predators and start disappearing. I would try to eliminate their access to the roof and keep them safely locked inside. A nightlight on a timer might help the stragglers at bedtime to find their way inside.

    Here's a few articles worth reading:
  5. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Crowing

    Jul 29, 2013
    Cleveland OH
    Agreed with the others. We've had 0*F winters and -45 windchills and the chickens were fine in their plywood box. The warm spring nights with the hungry raccoons however are another story. I'd give them some BIG windows so they go into the coop at night and stay safe.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ditto Dat!!^^^

    @mrl8810 Please post pics of your coop, inside and out.
  7. Mybackyardpeepers

    Mybackyardpeepers Crowing

    Mar 22, 2019
    I use one of those cheap bright flashlights harbor freight gives away and turn it on when the inside of my coop starts getting dark. That being said I have 3-4 very bratty silkies I have to toss through the chicken door every night, no one is allowed to sleep outside even in the summer. That is an invitation for predators!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: