Does the cold ever present a problem to my chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Farmer Mike S, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. Farmer Mike S

    Farmer Mike S Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 18, 2012
    Glen Mills, PA
    I have 2 winter hardy breeds, buff orpingtons and speckled Sussex. They have a draft free coop with pine shavings on the floor using the deep litter method. I live in southeastern Pennsylvania where we don't really experience extreme temperatures in the single digits or negatives, but we do get temperatures below freezing like tonight, 28 degrees. I'm wondering though if the chickens are alright with what they have, and if there are any temperatures where I should consider closing everything off or adding heat?
  2. GaryDean26

    GaryDean26 Chicken Czar

    Dec 22, 2011
    McAlester, OK
    My Coop
    I kept chickens in Northern Utah for 4-5 years and I would always shut the door to the run in the winter and cover the whole coop with opaque plastic to make it like a green house. The deep litter works well for this because the decomposition gives off a little heat that can be trapped in the plastic. I now live in the south and rarely see temperatures under freezing. I let my chickens out pretty much year round now, but got frost bite on their combs when it was below freezing last year. So under 32 deg F. might be a time you should heat the coop. It will help keep the water from freezing too.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    It got down to 2* here in MN last night, and I still haven't put the windows in the coops. The chickens were just fine when I let them out this morning. The cold is not the biggest threat. Too much humidity is more your enemy than the cold. I would advise against heating when it gets below freezing. When you add artificial heat, you are not allowing them to naturally acclimate to the cold on their own. This causes more harm than good. What if you're heating them and the power goes out? Think about be drastic temperature changes if you're only heating at certain time and not others. Or if it's warm inside the coop and they choose to go outside. Artificial heat is not your friend.
  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    I am 25F with a windchill of 18F right now. My hens are fine, actually everyone is fine.. me? i could use another layer lol I get worse than that for temps, i have not added heat, i have a few concerns with it main one, hydro can go off and then a rapid drop in temp could harm the chickens.

    Well vented, draft free housing is key. So far it's worked for me. I do in the extreme winter dab some Vaseline on their combs but being pea sized i am likely overly worrying lol
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  5. GaryDean26

    GaryDean26 Chicken Czar

    Dec 22, 2011
    McAlester, OK
    My Coop
    Good comments on acclimatization. Just out of clarification I have never lighted or heated my coops in any area of the country I have lived.
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Humidity is a real culprit in frost bite, and it can build up quickly in a too tight or snug coop. Ventilation is important.

    The best way to add extra heat to your hens, is to feed them extra food, high energy food. Send the to bed with full crops and they are going to do well in temperatures well below 0. It is not uncommon to get to temperatures below -20, here. They do need a safe shelter, where they can get out of the wind, and up off the floor on a roost.

    The other problem with added heat, is the high chance of a fire or electrical shorting out, unless you go to the expense of wiring the house correctly.

    Mrs K

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