HELP! Chicken Q's


11 Years
Apr 10, 2008
I became a new chicken owner last April (for my Birthday!) and have Questions!

The air is getting cooler and I'm finding LOTS of feathers... do they molt when the weather changes?

How do you winter-ize an outdoor coop and do they come outside during winter/snow? I mean, there'd be no grass; it'd be covered with snow.
I plan on giving them lots of hay and straw around the outdoor coop, and in the run, is that good enough?

My hens are layers, however, I don't know the difference between Meat and Laying hens~!
My husband says you can't eat hens that are past, like 12 weeks old, is that so?


12 Years
Nov 12, 2007
I got my layers in April too. I can't answer all of your questions but I can attempt a few from researching my own questions on this board.
I've seen pics of chickens in the snow, from the posts I've read some enjoy it and some prefer to remain in. I am curious to see what my girls are going to do this winter

I live in PA, it gets pretty cold here. I am planning on having a heat lamp near the hanging waterer and only using it on the coldest of nights, that is if DH finishes the wiring

As far as eating, you can eat any healthy chicken. It's my understanding the older the bird the tougher the meat so your layers that get some age on them will need to be stewed instead of roasted or fried. Hence the term "tough old hen" lol
I've been browsing the meat bird section as I want to attempt raising some next spring. The type you get in the store is typically a Cornish X. They are bred specifically to be butchered around 8 weeks. They grow extremely rapidly but can develop leg & heart problems due to the rapid growth. I've also been considering free rangers which grow more slowly but may have less problems. I'm still in the "studying up" stage of my meat bird endeavor.
Good luck!


11 Years
Oct 4, 2008
North Central Florida
Depends on your breed of chickens how well they will take the cold. Google Henderson's Chicken Breed Chart. If your birds are cold tolerant then you really just need to provide them with ventilated but draft free housing, and a water supply that won't freeze. Some chickens really enjoy the snow. When I lived up north (Washington), my chooks just loved to chase snowflakes.
Hens will generally not molt until after their first year of laying. That's not saying they wont. But chickens will pull out feathers from themselves as they start to lay or if they are crinkled or deformed.
Meat chickens generally will grow faster and the hens have been breed so much that they don't lay many eggs and will not set or go broody. Laying breeds have been breed just for the purpose of laying. Then there are dual purpose birds that are good for both. Cornish and Cornish Cross are your meat birds and Leghorns and Sex Linked Chickens are the egg layers. Barred Rocks and Rhode Island reds are good dual purpose birds.
Any bird can be eaten. The older the tougher. If you can even find a "stewing hen" at the meat department anymore are hens that were used for egg production for a year to a year and a half. If you are going to raise a few for meat, I would try to have them butchered at less than a year. Otherwise, if you have hens that seem to not be good layers or too many roosters you can butcher those off as well. Anything over about 2 years seems to be getting pretty tough so you might want to just cook them up and strip the meat off the bones and give it to the dogs or cats.

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