We have hens going through their first winter, and it is our first winter with hens. They were all going in to the coop on their own before we left town for a month and a half back in October. They have a small coop for 12 of them. Just before we left there were 8 more that we butchered, including the rooster. Now, with temperatures dropping below zero, we have a number (that seem to be growing every night) that are turning in for the night without making it to the coop, just in various places in the run. I bring 'em down to the ground and nudge them in to the coop where there is a heat lamp before I go to bed each night. (I'm not always home before dark...) What we wonder is, will we be ruining their ability to "figure it out on their own" if I keep tucking them in at night? What if we spend the night somewhere else, and they decide to freeze to death? My understanding is that once its dark, they have turned in. Even if it turns deathly cold they won't make their way to their friends near the heat lamp. Am I right? Am I wrong? If we leave them in the cold at night, that affects their egg production too, right?