Do you keep your birds in the coop when it's cold, or let them decide?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by WisconsinGardenChick, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. WisconsinGardenChick

    WisconsinGardenChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    I keep waffling over what to do. Today it was 6F outside, 20F in their coop, yet they stay out in their pen. The pen is covered on the north and west sides with plastic to keep the wind and snow out.

    This is my first year with chickens, and although I read as much as I can to learn how to properly care for them, I also try to observe them and be guided by what they appear to want and need. I'm about ready to abandon that philosophy now, and keep them in, at least part of the day!

    What should I do? What do you do?

    They appear to be okay; no frostbite so far, moving around, eating, drinking, but not as lively as in better weather. I did take them some warm oatmeal with apples today. Two of them loved it, and one turned her beak up. She refused everything until I offered her cracked corn in my hand - she wouldn't have it off the ground, mind you! It's like she can sense my guilt over the cold and she's working me over good!!

    Katherine
     
  2. Poulets De Cajun

    Poulets De Cajun Overrun With Chickens

    Its quite simple honestly. Chickens are animals, and animals have instincts. If their instincts tell them that they are more comfortable outside of the coop, then let them be. Just make sure that the door is open, and they can access it if they want.

    They appear to be okay; no frostbite so far, moving around, eating, drinking, but not as lively as in better weather.

    Dont break anything that doesn't need fixin...​
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  3. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    my chickens choose to stay inside, they dont like the snow but their door is open, its their choice. They know when they are cold or uncomfortable I say give them the choice.
     
  4. Dar

    Dar Overrun With Chickens

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    Jul 31, 2008
    that depends

    if its stupid degrees like what it is here right now -23*C (-9*F) with windchill then I shorten the time i leave the coop open

    if its really much below this then i will leave the coop closed they have enough room that they will be fine for a day or 2 inside
     
  5. goldeneggtees

    goldeneggtees Fluffy Butt Nut

    Mar 11, 2009
    Long Island, NY
    This past week, we had a really cold, windy day. I saw them huddling around, not doing much of anything except bracing themselves against the cold and that's when I brought them. They had access to the coop but chose to stay out in the freezing cold winds. If they were moving around a little scratching and pecking, I would have let them be. But silly birds looked so miserable, I chased them inside.
     
  6. WisconsinGardenChick

    WisconsinGardenChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Quote:That is the behavior I saw this morning that really concerned me - the huddling together. They didn't even go crazy for their greens this morning, like they normally do. They did get pretty excited about the warm oatmeal, and we kept checking on them, and they got more lively as the day wore on.

    My feeling is that the previous posters are right when they say let them decide, but also if it gets crazy cold or they're just huddling, I should make a "command decision" (as my hubby who is retired AF used to say). I guess the key is to do what I've done in the past - OBSERVE them, and go from there...
     
  7. Poulets De Cajun

    Poulets De Cajun Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:Looks like you had it all figured out to begin with! [​IMG]
     
  8. WisconsinGardenChick

    WisconsinGardenChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Quote:Looks like you had it all figured out to begin with! [​IMG]

    I just don't trust myself! I needed to hear people like you say it: They have instincts; let them decide.

    If I let those birdies freeze to death, I'll never forgive myself.

    Driving hubby crazy with my worrying; had to bother you all for awhile. [​IMG]
     
  9. Buck Creek Chickens

    Buck Creek Chickens Have Incubator, Will Hatch

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    Nov 26, 2008
    Neenah, WI
    All I can say is watch the wind, chickens seem to have the same problem as people, wind chill, when you get a really cold wind chill it freezes flesh faster then anyone/thing thinks, my brother's roo lost his comb being out in the wind less than 5 min with a below 0 windchill. the hens stayed inside
     
  10. 2txmedics

    2txmedics Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2009
    Manvel Texas
    I have one main nice size coop and 10 in that flock, every night they go into the coop to roost, and come out at night....the others dont really have much of a coop...one is a little tykes playhouse, and they go into it to roost also...the others have a dog house, and they stay out on a roost under covering, and the newest babies which are like 4mos old... do have over heard shelter, and an old dresser drawer with roost in each shelve to go into, Im not too sure what they do...my flock area are really water logged and muddy due to the rain.
     

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