Have 3 that won't roost in coop, what temp is too cold?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by southernlasssc, Nov 11, 2019.

  1. southernlasssc

    southernlasssc In the Brooder

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    I see lots of great advice here and always start my search here with any new questions. I can't find the all of the answer to my current question.

    This is my first winter with chickens. I have three that roost in the rafters of their run. They have from day one, last March. They do not go in their coop at night. There are 2 roosting bars at different heights in their coop. We thought maybe it was too dim in there and they hadn't noticed them so we added a window. They have no interest. They go in to go to the nesting boxes to lay, which are offset/stick out of the side of the coop, but that is all they have to do with the coop.

    Last week, we had a night that was going to be under 30 so we caught and shut them in the coop. They gave us quite a talking too. They were incredibly upset and slept in the nesting boxes instead of roosting. I was expecting a mess the next day but two of them held it all night long. I did not think chickens could even do that. I can't think that is healthy. One of them did not lay again until the third day after. Normally she only skips a few days a month, and when she does, the next day she is up before the sun with the need to lay an egg. I see all kinds of advice that chickens are hardy and if their coop is well ventilated and dry they will be fine in winter temps, but what if they won't use it? I see advice that says keep shutting them in and they will eventually rehome to the coop. Do we force the issue and shut them in there no matter how upset and stressed they get? 2 of the girls go all the way up in the rafters of the run and sleep side by side. One of those is a Naked Neck Turken so I worry about her and the cold with her bare chest and neck. The third can't get herself that high and sleeps alone on a lower bar. She will have no one for body warmth. I have put some plastic sheeting up on the chicken wire to help with wind, but the run is 15x20 ish so there will still be breezes and no way to collect warmth. Two nights of mid to low 20's are coming. One is supposed to be breezy. I live in SC so freezing temps are not usually long term or that often.

    So the question in a nutshell is the stress of locking them in better or worse than the cold? Will they hurt themselves by holding their waste all night? I would love some advice.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019
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  2. penny1960

    penny1960 Yippy Do Da, Yipptye Ay!

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    Welcome to Backyard Chickens first but how big is the coop and how many birds are in it please
     
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  3. southernlasssc

    southernlasssc In the Brooder

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    That part of the coop has 3 birds. The coup is roughly 42x42. The nesting boxes are sticking out from the coop and not part of that square footage. The picture of the two bars in the coop is taken from inside one of the nesting boxes.
    The three birds are friendly with each other. The #1 hen and #3 hen usually sleep together. The one night we forced the issue they slept together in one nesting box.
     
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  4. Manhen

    Manhen Songster

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    put netting over your rafters, they always want the highest place they can reach unless they are chubby....
     
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  5. Manhen

    Manhen Songster

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    put netting over your rafters, they always want the highest place they can reach unless they are chubby....
     
  6. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Looks like a lovely run.

    I would throw up a solid piece of something (the plastic sheeting you already put up might be enough) on the wall next to where they sleep so the wind doesn't blow right on them.... and call it good.

    I know a guy in upper New York state with naked necks, he says they do fine.

    EXCEPT for the fact that your run is wired with chicken wire....

    That would worry me for night time use...

    So I would either rewire the run and let them sleep outside, OR lock them inside their coop every single night.

    Also...maybe your coop doesn't have enough ventilation?
     
  7. BugMunch

    BugMunch Songster

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    I am in SC as well...I would put a tarp up where they want to roost, or either some thick(ish) plastic, and they should be good. And I agree with Alaskan...I would reinforce that run with more than just chicken wire, unless you continue to shut them in the coop at night.
     
  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Free Ranging

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    A lot of times if you block off their choice, they will pick yours as second best. Or you can let them be. Mine have always gone in the coop, but I have read many people have them in trees. I know the wild turkeys are in trees near us, and do just fine in temperatures well below 0, as in 25-30 below.

    Mrs K
     
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  9. imnukensc

    imnukensc Crowing

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    When I was a kid, we had chickens. No coop, free range. They roosted in a tree next to the house. Lost chickens to predators, but never to the weather. They'll be fine roosting where they do out in the run, but as others have mentioned, you'll probably want to beef up the security of it.
     
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  10. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Free Ranging

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    My Coop
    If you're fine with having them sleep in the run and are able to reinforce it for safety, no reason they can't sleep outside.

    For predator protection I don't allow mine to sleep outside. My first group of birds were locked in for a few days to home them to the coop (which I had to do twice, as we upgraded coops) and they learned to go in with very little issue. The youngsters after that learned to follow the adults in.

    I've never had a problem with them sleeping in the nest boxes but if I did, I'd also block those off. To encourage them to roost, you can manually place them on the bars after dusk and in most cases they'll stick on there and eventually learn to go up themselves.
     
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