frozen chicken

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by EasterEggDrew, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. EasterEggDrew

    EasterEggDrew Chirping

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    We're forecast for a few nights near 0 degF, in the next few days. Not all that unusual for us, but after a few abnormally warm years in a row, it's by far the coldest my flock has experienced. The flock:

    2 year olds: Easter Egger, Plymouth Barred Rock
    4 month olds: Golden Lace Wyandote, Asian Black

    Unheated and uninsulated coop, although it is painted a dark color to pick up some solar heating, if the sun happens to come out. Well ventilated at roof, but should be no drafts on the roosting birds.

    Should I be concerned, with these birds not being very used to this kind of cold? What should I watch for? Should I run an extension cord and put a heat lamp in the coop for these cold overnights, or let them tough it out?

    Google tells me chickens are generally fine down to -20C (-4F), and we are forecast for 1F dry bulb with -8F windchill, so that's comforting. But this flock has been living the easy life with winter temperatures barely below freezing so far this year.
     
  2. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    They should be fine, but it's always good to check on them in any unusual weather, extreme cold or heat, or wind/snow/rain/hail, anything they are not used to or anything that would cause you to spend more time indoors yourself ;)

    Good news is that it sounds like they have a nice coop to hang out in and they are full grown and fully feathered. Since they have a spot to shelter inside they will not feel the wind chill either!

    When you check on them these are the sorts of things I look for by day. Have they left the coop at all? If it's late in the day and the food and water outside is still mostly full I know the chickens are not really going outside in the bad weather. Then sometimes I will move the food and water in the coop for a few hours so I know they can eat and drink as this will help them deal with the cold better. Personally I choose to remove it from the coop overnight.

    How are the chickens acting by day? Are they mostly walking around and scratching and doing normal chicken things? If they are, then all is well in their world.

    If they are frequently standing on one leg, huddled in appearance, huddled with each other, standing still, shivering, lethargic, these are all signs they may not be doing so well and need some attention from you to herd them back in their warm little coop.

    At night make sure they can cover their own feet on the roost. Check comb colors. Check for frost forming INSIDE the coop which would indicate a ventilation problem.

    The day before a cold snap I like to scoop poop under the roost (gets moisture and ammonia out of the coop) and add a few inches of dry bedding to help insulate a bit and dry things out further in the coop.
     
  3. EasterEggDrew

    EasterEggDrew Chirping

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    Thank you, @PirateGirl! Poop scooped today, dry PDZ in the poop tray, a nice layer of pine shavings on the floor, and straw in the nesting boxes. Their roosting bar (above poop tray, which is above nesting boxes) is a four foot section of 2x3 lumber, and they seem to be able to hunker down on their feet nicely on that, to keep warm thru the nights. They sleep in pairs, the two year olds together at one end, and the youngun's together at the other. I'll watch the comb color on the barred rock, she's the only one wearing much of a comb.
     
  4. SimplyLivinthatFarmLife

    SimplyLivinthatFarmLife Crowing

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    Hope your girls will be fine. We are about to experience some very cold weather in the coming days, actually beginning tomorrow- but not that cold.
     
  5. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    How are they all doing in the cold?
     
  6. EasterEggDrew

    EasterEggDrew Chirping

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    Thanks for asking. I was at work all day, and didn't get home until at least 2 hours after they retired but my wife was home all day, and she checked in on them around 1pm. She said the water was still liquid (first use of our heated waterer) and they all seemed to be doing fine. She hung some apple slices and put some cracked corn in the little ball toy they roll around for entertainment, as the combination of winter boredom and two young ones being recently added to the coop had the older pair fighting a bit last week.

    Another cold night tonight, so I'll see how they are in the morning. Both of the older pair laid an egg today, so I guess they must be doing okay.
     
    aart and PirateGirl like this.
  7. Clairenh

    Clairenh Chirping

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    This is our first winter with the ladies, and the last two days it's been 1-3 degrees F here with wind chills of -10 to -20. Our coop is not insulated. Yesterday we were both home, so we spread extra hay on the ground in the run, and put vaseline on their combs. Our youngest, about 10 months old, was showing some whiteness on the tips of her comb. We kept an eye on them all day. By about 4 pm one of them was huddled on the ground shivering, and their combs were turning dark. They never went back into the coop during the day, not sure if since this is their first winter of life, they haven't figured that out yet. :idunnoSince last night was supposed to be even colder than Sunday night, we decided it was time to break down and let the girls into the house, sort of. We made a makeshift coop in the space just outside our basement door, between the foundation and the door to the outside. It was 32 degrees in there (1 outside). They spent the night there, and we are awaiting to see if they use the makeshift nesting box.
    IMG_0086.jpeg
    Outside
    IMG_0094.jpeg
    Inside - and looking at the REAL inside with a lot of interest...
    We are hoping since it isn't super warm down there (but warmer than 1) they won't get too acclimated to the warmth, then freeze their fluff butts off when we put them back outside.

    To the OP - I just realized your post was from 2016...
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Nope...that's when they joined, the thread was started just 4 days ago. ;)
     
    Clairenh likes this.
  9. @Clairenh I'm just a little south of you and the lows here Sunday to Monday got down to around -3. The high yesterday was 3F all day. I have a walk in coop and the lowest temp in the coop was only 10. If your birds have good roost that allow them to keep their feathers over their toes, they should be fine. Did you wrap your run to keep the wind down to a minimum? That helps mine and it's generally warmer in the run during the day. I do like that setup in the basement entrance. Good idea for severe weather. Let me know how your birds do when they get back to their coop.
     
  10. Clairenh

    Clairenh Chirping

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    I think they were fine in the coop, the problem was when we let them out in the morning to eat, they never went back in the coop to warm up. Our run is protected on 3 sides by buildings and a fence, and also has plastic over the wire for the winter. In the future should we just keep them in the coop? Let them out to eat, then put th back in maybe?
     

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