Do I tuck 'em in at night? It's freezing!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by roost at the rockies, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. roost at the rockies

    roost at the rockies New Egg

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    Dec 27, 2011
    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?
     
  2. OSUman

    OSUman GO BUCKS

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    What you could do is to get them all, or as many as you can, into the coop one night and then leave them in the coop for two days then they should go into the coop at night by themselves.
     
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    I agree with OSU.
    Sounds like their routine was disrupted while you were away, like they got locked out of the coop or something.
    I wouldn't add heat though. Maybe they don't like the lamp. They won't freeze, they have their down jacket on.
    Isn't it cold out in the morning when you let them out. That fluctuation of temperature is more stressful than just being in the cold continuously.
     
  4. upthecreek

    upthecreek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't mind giving my chickens heat when i think they need it (don't care what anyone thinks) i love my chickens and want them to simply be comfortable ............ this is not the military or big business deal ......... just chickens that enjoy being warm when it's cold ..........
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2011
  5. cottagechick

    cottagechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  6. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    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?

    Like OSUman said, lock them in for a few days. Usually that will teach them where home and hearth are. It is also OK to nightly put them in the coop, they will eventually figure it out. You are not ruining them. It may be a hassle though.
    You are correct that they may not go into the coop once they roost outside, in the dark.
    Chickens can take a lot of cold and survive, but I also don't want my chickens to just survive or risk frostbite. I too supply a bit of supplemental heat, and have not had any negative consequences from it. Waterfowl grow down, chickens not so much. There is nothing wrong with making the choice of additional heat for your chickens.
    Egg production is not really related to cold as much as it is to light, but since your hens are still in their first year, they will/may lay well this year regardless.
    It is possible that something has taken up residence in your nice coop, scaring your chickens. Check everywhere for any squatters like rats or anything else you might have in your area.

    Good luck and welcome to BYC,

    Imp

    btw- I too sometimes don't get home till well after dark. Tonight I was taking care of my chickens at 11pm.​
     
  7. roost at the rockies

    roost at the rockies New Egg

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    Dec 27, 2011
    Thank you Imp, Cottagechick, upthecreek, chickencanoe, and OSUman for your responses. I just laid eyes on them, and I think I will go with the "lock 'em in" tactic. I hope it's true that the red-light lamp doesn't mess with their sense of night and day. It is mighty cold, and by the way they huddle it seems they don't mind some extra warmth. I'll check around to see if anything has been in the roost. Don't want my girls to be locked in with a critter that frightens them.

    It's so wonderful that there is so much discussion on this site! I have a bunch more questions, but I will rummage the archives before posting them all : )

    I have a beak that I'm finally ready to clip tonight and feeling a little nervous. If I wimp out I'll be back for some info!
    Thanks again!
     

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