Free roaming hens in sub-freezing temps, snow & wind?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chicknmom, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. chicknmom

    chicknmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 30, 2013
    I've read lots and lots of the posts and suggestions that seem to be weighted against adding heat for chickens, even in their coops. I'm comfortable with that. I have made the area near the coop somewhat protected from wind and snow (using tarps, wood, plastic and the enormous Douglas firs overhead). I use a couple of methods to keep their water liquid.

    What I am wondering is that my girls have a good, well-ventilated, dry coop, but they do not have a specific run. They roam my large backyard freely. And yet, even during extended periods of temps in the teens, with icy winds and some snow, they insist on wandering around the yard and huddling here and there.

    I worry about frostbite and other issues from the cold. Should I make an effort to enclose them in the more-protected area, or allow them to choose for themselves where they want to be?
    Thanks!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Allow them to choose. The frostbite comes from high humidity in exceedingly cold temps. That's usually from a coop that's too closed up.
    If you have a lot of snow, spreading straw over it will help keep their feet comfy.
     
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  3. Fletch83

    Fletch83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's about 26 here right now in lovely Dallas TX [​IMG] and my hens are wandering the yard like it's a beautiful spring day. They aren't loving all the ice, but they seem fine. I am sure if yours have the option to go in and out of the coop if they decide to seek shelter during the day, they should be fine like mine are.
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Ours awakened to snow and 20 degrees. They weren't fond of the snow.
    After some time they get used to the snow but many of them had never seen it before.
    It will be about 7 here tonight. I even have some 6 week old chicks out there.
    I've never lost a chicken to cold but I have to heat.
    In a Texas winter, you're probably in a chicken's sweet spot.
    I don't know how they handle your summers.
     
  5. annagarret

    annagarret Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    I would worry more about them free-ranging in the winter with predators who may kill them looking for a food source. [​IMG]
     
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  6. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My flock stays in the coop if it's snowing, raining heavily, or very windy. Otherwise they are outside. We haven't gotten above 10F the last two days and they have been out and about. If the sun is out they are out. If they get cold they will head back to a protected area. But yes, like posted above, watch out for hungry critters looking for a nice fat juicy meal :)
     
  7. Fletch83

    Fletch83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ugh, all the hinges and latches, etc. on my coop and run are frozen over and we are having another hard freeze tonight. I have new respect for all the northerners and mid-westerners right now. The coop has like an inch of ice sitting on it right now which is pretty solid. I'm hoping it doesn't do any damage to the wood, etc. [​IMG]
     
  8. Fletch83

    Fletch83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    With a misting system in their run and frozen gallon jugs of water and plenty of ice water in their waterers! Oh and plenty of dirt baths :) I too worry about the summers here but I keep a very close eye on them to the point of becoming neurotic.
     
  9. schnebbles

    schnebbles Chillin' With My Peeps

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    my chickens seem to HATE the snow. They didn't go in the coop tonight, it is cold and a couple inches of snow. They were out on the deck where they usually hang in this weather and that's where I found them all when I got home from an errand and it was dark. They don't like walking in snow, I had to put them all in myself. Today my silkie was sitting out on a stick all alone getting snowed on. Like she didn't know where everyone else was or how to get up there. They always hang together. It's like the weather has them freaked out.
     
  10. FrozenWings

    FrozenWings Out Of The Brooder

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    You should probably have an area that your birds can have that has protection both from ground predators and predators from the sky. I have an enclosed area and I used to just let my chickens free range all day everyday anyway. As winter approached I had an increasing number of predator sightings. A few of those may have had turned fatal had I not notice them. Now I only let my birds out when I can keep an eye on them.

    -Frozen Wings
     

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