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Freezing Chickens?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Iheartchickies, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. Iheartchickies

    Iheartchickies Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 16, 2012
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    We live in MN and our flock has survived our winter months just fine for the last couple years. However, we are expecting record low temperatures in the next few days. I'm talking -20 degrees actual temp (-50 with windchill). Cold that we haven't seen in at least 20 years. I'm wondering if anyone knows the sustainability of chickens in that type of climate. They have two heat lamps and lots of hay in their chicken house and approximately 4ftx4ft run. The run is covered with tarps about halfway but the whole bottom half is exposed for ventilation. Yikes!
     
  2. ten chicks

    ten chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is colder than cold,we have been having - 42 C with wind chill - 52 C,i brought my 10(6 are silkies) birds inside. I have a heated/insulated coop,but i just was not comfortable with leaving my birds outside.

    Another snow storm is going on,as usual! My birds are all asleep,safe and warm,and the best part is i have no worries about them!
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014
  3. Janet Pesaturo

    Janet Pesaturo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can you close off the run for the night, to keep out the draft? Maybe even for the whole day when it is extremely cold, if there is enough space inside the coop for them to live without the run, temporarily.
     
  4. Mammachix

    Mammachix Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2013
    Hi, we have a closed shed for the coop, but no insulation. It does have a tarp across the top struts though, to keep the heat lower than the eaves of the roof. No water at night in the coop and we clean out the poop daily. However, last night was negative five outside or so, and we put vaseline on the rooster's wattles. Looks like he still got a couple of small spots of frostbite though. I went and got a small space heater tonight, as it is supposed to be even colder. It's up to 23 degrees in the coop, so hoping for a better night for him. He is the best rooster and we love him. The hens think he's pretty sexy too...can't ruin his studly good looks!
     
  5. BellChell123

    BellChell123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you have any extra lumber laying around? I would recommend putting some around the bottom half of the coop, at LEAST where the wind's going to be blowing. Chickens are pretty hardy creatures, and as long as they're out of the wind they should be fine, especially with the heat lamps and hay. Good luck!
     
  6. Iheartchickies

    Iheartchickies Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 16, 2012
    Minnesota
    Thank you for the replies. I was going to seal off the parts that aren't covered but worry they won't have the proper ventilation. Should I do it anyhow? Sadly my beautiful rooster already has severe frostbite on his waddles and comb (as do the hens) but this is not uncommon and typically those parts simply fall off and re grow in the spring. All legs look ok and don't appear to have any signs of frostbite.
     
  7. Iheartchickies

    Iheartchickies Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 16, 2012
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    Also, I have a large dog crate (can fit a large lab) I'm wondering if I stuff it with hay and put 5 chickens in it do you think they would attack each other in such a confined space? We have a garage heated by a wood stove so wouldn't dare let them run free in there.
     
  8. BellChell123

    BellChell123 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think they would be okay in there. We've had to lock chickens up before in small spaces, and they did just fine. Just don't leave them in there for a long time. I'd say lock them up at night, then let them out in the morning.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    My Coop
    Your best bet is to keep them in the coop during extremely bitter temperatures. The idea isn't so much to keep them warmer, but to keep them out of the wind and keep their feet off of the frozen earth.
    If you can give them a draft-free but well ventilated area, and a roost that allows them to sit fully on their feet at night (a 2x4 with the wide part as the perching surface works well), most chicken breeds will do okay at those temperatures. You really want to reduce moisture in the coop at these temperatures, as it is one of the major factors in frostbite. Removing droppings and not heating water above 33-34° will help a lot. Good vents that won't create drafts are really the key since you will have some moisture just from their breath.

    Be aware that moving them in and out of heated areas during very cold days is actually harder on their immune systems than just letting them get used to the cold. If you do move them to a heated area, it is best to take them back outside only when it warms up quite a bit. Dealing with large swings in temperature (due to taking them into heat then back out again) in a short period of time is stressful for them.

    Hard-feathered breeds, silkies, birds going through a hard molt (with naked areas on the body), and frizzles have the hardest time keeping themselves warm and special accommodations may need to be made for them.

    Beware confining them too tightly for too long. Boredom can really do a number on chickens and you'll probably have social problems/picking/etc if it is left too long. If you need to confine them consider adding 'enrichment' such as a head of cabbage or something else for them to focus their attention on.
     
  10. Janet Pesaturo

    Janet Pesaturo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dog crate sounds too small, a set up for feather picking, which can be a devil of a problem once it starts. I'd close off that opening between coop and run during extreme cold and windy spells. Ventilation will be adequate unless you really built it air tight. We worry so much about ventilation, and I don't know what your coop is like, but most of the ones I see are the other extreme - too flimsy and drafty. You're going to see frostbite on large single blade combs in extreme cold regardless of humidity, so next time consider choosing breeds with low, thick combs. They are much better at conserving warmth.
     

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