Help Please?

CeceliaD

Chirping
Apr 29, 2020
89
64
91
Maine
I have a young batch of hens, 8 total, and two ducks the same age. This is their first winter and they’ve just experienced their first snowstorm a few days ago. I had turned the heat lamp on for the first time as well, and they were confused at first and didn’t go to sleep for quite a while. I got them a red heat lamp in hopes that it would allow them to sleep better and stay warm. However, I haven’t had it on overnight yet because the first night that I had put it in I found two of the hens really going at it in the coop. I know that chickens need a certain amount of space from each other in order to prevent them from picking on each other; I let them out in the morning and they’re free to go wherever they choose (I live in the woods so there’s no need for fencing). But I think because they’re new to snow they’ve been a little shy about exploring and some of the hens have stayed in or around the coop for almost all hours of the day.

Tonight one of the girls was missing so I searched around and found her sleeping in a grassy patch she had found behind the house. She had a bloody comb from fighting last night and clearly didn’t wanna be trapped with the other girls again. As soon as I brought her back nearly 4 other girls started fighting with her or with other hens...I ultimately unplugged the light again so they couldn’t see each other and had to go to bed.

What can I do to keep this from happening? WILL it just take some time?
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Nov 23, 2010
33,439
28,535
1,097
St. Louis, MO
Lose the heat lamp. They need it dark at night, just like you do.
The first time they experience it, they are shy of snow. Spread straw on the snow to give them a place to walk till they get used to it.
Just because there is snow outside, doesn't mean they are cold. They go to bed wearing a winter coat.
A red light at night tends to make them a little crazy.
 

FuzzyCritters

Crowing
Mar 13, 2020
1,979
3,695
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Kitsap county, WA
They don't need heat. Ultimately, heat can cause more problems than it solves. Chickens have thick feathers and down to protect them from the cold, and each other to snuggle up with. All they need is draft-free coop. Always having light is bad for them, it interrupts their natural sleep cycle. They need darkness to tell them to settle down and sleep. An infrared light won't help, they can see infrared. They will get used to the snow, give them a little time.
 

Anime2lover

Crowing
Apr 17, 2019
3,224
11,015
467
I have a young batch of hens, 8 total, and two ducks the same age. This is their first winter and they’ve just experienced their first snowstorm a few days ago. I had turned the heat lamp on for the first time as well, and they were confused at first and didn’t go to sleep for quite a while. I got them a red heat lamp in hopes that it would allow them to sleep better and stay warm. However, I haven’t had it on overnight yet because the first night that I had put it in I found two of the hens really going at it in the coop. I know that chickens need a certain amount of space from each other in order to prevent them from picking on each other; I let them out in the morning and they’re free to go wherever they choose (I live in the woods so there’s no need for fencing). But I think because they’re new to snow they’ve been a little shy about exploring and some of the hens have stayed in or around the coop for almost all hours of the day.

Tonight one of the girls was missing so I searched around and found her sleeping in a grassy patch she had found behind the house. She had a bloody comb from fighting last night and clearly didn’t wanna be trapped with the other girls again. As soon as I brought her back nearly 4 other girls started fighting with her or with other hens...I ultimately unplugged the light again so they couldn’t see each other and had to go to bed.

What can I do to keep this from happening? WILL it just take some time?
Chickens hate the snow. They will do all they can to be off it, even stand in freezing mud. Mine have pretty much corralled themselves in their sleeping area even though the door to outside is completely open. To give them more space without snow during the winter, maybe try covering area around the coop partially to stop snow from covering the ground space below, thus giving them a little more space. You can do it using wood two by fours with plywood roofed by things like tarp, plywood/roofing paper/and shingles, and plexiglass. You can also do so by putting up canopies for them, though you'd have to watch and make sure the snow doesn't break through them.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
100,755
144,130
1,867
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I let them out in the morning and they’re free to go wherever they choose (I live in the woods so there’s no need for fencing).
No concern with predators?
Do they have somewhere to shelter out of the wind/snow/rain?

How big is your coop, in feet by feet?
Dimensions and pics, inside and out, would help immensely here.
They do need ventilation, even in winter, but I seriously doubt they need heat.

Where in this world are you located?
Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!
1608644528767.png
 

CeceliaD

Chirping
Apr 29, 2020
89
64
91
Maine
Lose the heat lamp. They need it dark at night, just like you do.
The first time they experience it, they are shy of snow. Spread straw on the snow to give them a place to walk till they get used to it.
Just because there is snow outside, doesn't mean they are cold. They go to bed wearing a winter coat.
A red light at night tends to make them a little crazy.
Thanks for your reply! They do have a large walkway I made with hay, but they stick to that area for the most part. The issue is that some nights they do need the heat lamp. It gets really cold where I am, and we’ve had chickens lose toes from frost bite.
 
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CeceliaD

Chirping
Apr 29, 2020
89
64
91
Maine
No concern with predators?
Do they have somewhere to shelter out of the wind/snow/rain?

How big is your coop, in feet by feet?
Dimensions and pics, inside and out, would help immensely here.
They do need ventilation, even in winter, but I seriously doubt they need heat.

Where in this world are you located?
Climate, and time of year, is almost always a factor.
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!
View attachment 2459498
Predators are always a concern, obviously. Most predators come around at night after we’ve locked them in. We’ve had chickens for about 20 years so this isn’t new business for us—just a new flock. They have all the shelter they need from all kinds of weather. They need a heat lamp at night some of the time because it gets in the negative numbers here occasionally and we’ve had chickens lose toes to frostbite. I’ll try out the climate thing if I can figure it out...
 

CeceliaD

Chirping
Apr 29, 2020
89
64
91
Maine
Chickens hate the snow. They will do all they can to be off it, even stand in freezing mud. Mine have pretty much corralled themselves in their sleeping area even though the door to outside is completely open. To give them more space without snow during the winter, maybe try covering area around the coop partially to stop snow from covering the ground space below, thus giving them a little more space. You can do it using wood two by fours with plywood roofed by things like tarp, plywood/roofing paper/and shingles, and plexiglass. You can also do so by putting up canopies for them, though you'd have to watch and make sure the snow doesn't break through them.
Thank you for your response! Those are all great ideas. Since we haven’t actually gotten much snow this winter, they’ve started to venture out more and the hay we spread didn’t get continuously covered. I’ll keep your ideas in mind for next winter!
 

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