How cold is TOO cold for a chicken?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickenNOOB, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. BamaChicken

    BamaChicken Orpingtons Bama Style

    Nov 14, 2007
    It was down to 24 at nite a few days ago here. WE dont' put any heat on ours, just make sure they a can get out of the wind. Never lost one to cold. We keep our chicks in brooder boxes with light and on our Juvies we make sure they are draft free and have hay to snuggle in. The wind is aweful today. Blowing around 20 miles an hour. Very cutting.
  2. momofdrew

    momofdrew Songster

    My little flock doesnt seem bothered by the blustery wind or the cold [ 18 degrees plus wind chill] I am learning to not put out all my waterers at the same time as I did all summer...I have been rotating them as they freeze quite quickly...need to find a heater for the water...all my waterers are I need to buy a galvinized one to use with a heater or are there heaters out there that can be used with plastic?????
  3. pdpatch

    pdpatch Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    When deciding to insulate you have to take a few things into consideration.

    1. Birds do fluff up there feathers to stay warm. They will also tuck there head under there wings to keep
    there Combs from freezing at night. But the wind will move the cold air
    up next to there bodies and rob them of heat. So you have to eliminate drafts. You still need
    some ventilation, as the moisture in the air along with Methane and Ammonia from there waste is
    harmfully to the coop and chickens.

    2. How hardy are is the variety of Chickens you have? Some handle low and high
    tempetures better then others. I can remember seeing where buff orghtinons, Barbed Rocks,
    Red sex links, and Black sex links are considered hardy. Many Hatcheries will list if a Chicken
    variety is Hardy.

    3. How many birds do you have? Usually they can gather together and share heat.
    But you have enough birds for the space you have. I don't recall seeing any magic numbers
    on how many chickens per square foot for in the winter.

    4. How cold does it really get? Most poultry can handle 20 degree temps fine, but -20 degrees is another
    question. If the above conditions are not correct you could loose a few or all of your flock.
    Wind chill is another factor that does need to be considered. Both of my Uncles who were Farmers, have lost chickens
    to cold weather, they did not have insulated or heated coops. But they had a lot of chickens so loosing a few
    was not that bad for them.

    5. How much do you want to pamper you chickens? Chickens seem to like temps above 40 better then
    -20, They will be much more active. Small flock owners tend to pamper the flocks, so continuing
    along this line, insulating and heating is something that is done where it's really needed or not.

    6. Even if you don't heat, insulating the coop may be a good idea. The chickens are there own heat
    source for the most part. The more there are the more heat. Heat also rises, so having roosts that go
    up to near the ceiling allows then to get closer to the warm air.

    7.Do you have some other method of keeping there water from freezing? Unless you want to take water to them several
    times a day. Or have heated waterier then you heed to keep the temp up in the coop. It's is not fun, to haul water
    and have it splash on you when it's -20 outside.

    8. During the winter if they are to cold, they will use the energy from the feed, they would have used for eggs
    to keep warm, You might only see a little drop off, sometimes so little you won't know it's happening.

    The bottom line is you need to look at these items to see if you will Insulate and or heat your coop. Remember what
    works for some may not work for you.

    How do you know if you pamper or spoil your Poultry:

    How any of them have names?
    Do you have Chickens toys for them?
    Do you feed them treats?
    Do you use baby talk when you are around them?
  4. momofdrew

    momofdrew Songster


    1. THe coop is insulated with straw all around the base also the run has hay on the floor and plastic on the sides and straw around the base... also it is in full sun to help warm.
    2. I have silkies and do not know how hardy they are but they love being out in the yard and only go into the run or coop when raining heavily...
    3. I have 4 night if you look into the coop they are all piled on top of each other in one corner of the coop not on the perches...
    4. Every year the temps vary here in New ENgland we never know what the new year will bring...
    5...I dont think I pamper too much I do not plan on heating the coop just want the water unfrozen and looking for the best method...
  5. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

    Mar 3, 2008
    Silkies will use a roost if it's only maybe a foot off the floor. They can't fly well, so they prefer to stay close to the ground. Mine will all roost on the perch that's 12" off the floor, and use that to hop into the nest box which is about 2' off the floor. They do like to huddle next to each other at night, usually alternating in a head-to-tail formation. [​IMG] Sounds like maybe just a waterer-heater/base or a heat lamp trained right on the waterer would be your best bet.
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Our sponsor, Randall Burkey, has the neatest 3 gallon waterer with a built in heater! It's so cool! Just plug in an extension cord to it.
  7. velo99

    velo99 In the Brooder

    Oct 26, 2008
    I have built my hens a small coop to get in from the cold. It is 2 wide 3 tall and 4 long. I have a nice pile of hay for them. Feed and water included down by the door. Been feeding them layer crumbles and scratch with sunflower and safflower seed I added. I screw the door shut at night so it doesnt blow around and keeps a nice tight seal. They go right in when it starts gettting dark,snuggle down side by side and I guess they like it.
    Is it sufficient for the winter? Gets pretty cold here in the Tx panahndle. Close to zero a time or two each wnter and regularly around 20 in the mornings til March.

    I have some building swapping going on this winter. They`ll have a new swanky pad here in a month or two.
    I raise pigeons and have been going off of my pigeon knowledge.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2008
  8. Does anyone know if chickens will get used to snow? Mine are really resistant to going out of the coop. It's their first snow. Will they get better over time? Because if not, it's going to be a looooong boring winter for them. I am so not into babysitting a bunch of chickens.
  9. momofdrew

    momofdrew Songster

    Quote:Thank you speckled hen [​IMG] [​IMG]
  10. Mrs MIA

    Mrs MIA Chick Magnet

    Mar 3, 2008
    Quote:Mine did, and I've caught a couple of them eating the snow. [​IMG] They don't like the deep stuff, though... if you can keep an area shoveled, they'll be more likely to go out in the run.

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