Getting colder!

Egg Crate

9 Years
Oct 13, 2010
Are chickens smart enough to go into the coop when it gets cold? Ours have always roosted on the 8' high roosts in the screened "open" area of the coop at night. This was fine for their first summer but overnight temps are dropping now. I put heavy canvas covers on the gable ends last week to help cut down on the wind but we're expecting overnight lows in the upper 20s this week. So far the girls show no interest in moving into the enclosed portion of the coop other than to lay their eggs or take a nap during the day. At night they are all back out on the upper roosts. I'm not too worried about the big girls but I'm a little concerned about Phylis, our little frizzle. She barely weighs 2 lbs and is just a ball of fluff. The others are 4-7 lbs easy. She likes to roost between two of her large cousins but is this enough warmth for real cold nights? The interior part of the coop is 3' wide x 8' long x 6' high with 12 large nesting boxes and several roosts. It has windows on the east & south elevations. Well ventilated and cozy too. Don't understand why they would rather be out in the cold. Is there something I could do to entice them to move "indoors" at night? I mean , other than physically popping them in and closing the door?

Chickens are creatures of habit. Because you let them roost outdoors, they will continue to roost there. They don't know that they CAN roost indoors, really - as they haven't established that habit.

You will need to put them in and keep them inside for about a week, to "imprint" the concept that inside the coop is the place to roost, because they've then slept there several nights. Habit is nearly everything to chickens.

Good luck!
So how does one get chickens to go where they should to keep warm? Remove their options?

What about my little chickens? They are only 6 weeks old, so I'm afraid they will get cold and sick. It gets down to 40 degrees at night now.

I don't have their house built yet so they are in a horse stall (covered in woven 2" sqare wire) with a smaller plastic enclosure (3' X 6' X6') that has an oil heater in a dog crate (to keep them off it) plus a heated dog mat on top of the dog crate with heater, plus an old ladder. It doesn't seem very warm in the plastic enclosure.

If they would sleep huddled on the heated dog mat they would be warm, but they roost on the ladder (8 on one rung and 3 on another). I moved them to the dog mat at night but in the morning I find them on the ladder again.

So, should I take the ladder away, or cut it down so that they can only go to the mat? Or take the ladder and heater away and leave only the dog mat in a corner?

Advice appreciated!
Our favorite time of year. Lows in the low 60s this week! Why I love living here for the next 6 months.

I noticed that all of the chickens are roosting a little closer to one another.
I think if they get cold enough they will go in on their own
My birds can't stand the winter weather we get here, subzero temps, nasty cold windchills and tons of the white stuff. They take one step outside and run right back in the coop. Do you have a light in the coop for them to entice them to go inside?
When I got home from work yesterday most of the the girls were already up in their outside roosts. Helicopter was still down and when I opened the door she made a mad dash for the garden for one more snack before she retired for the evening. I got out my trusty "chicken pole", scooped the rest off their roosts and popped them into the enclosed coop area. I kept a light on in there until they all found comfortable roosts or nesting boxes. They quieted down in a few minutes and I then turned the light off. This morning the light came back on at 5:00 as usual and Napoleon started crowing right on schedule (albeit a bit muffled). I opened the coop door at 5:30 but they did not venture out until 6:45 or so when the timer turned the inside light off. I got a shell-less egg from Stretch, the Uber hen, for my trouble, but I think after a few days they will be fine with spending their nights indoors.

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