How Cold Is Too Cold?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Cyprus, Nov 10, 2018 at 5:35 PM.

  1. Cyprus

    Cyprus Master of the 'never give up' attitude

    Chickens are very hardy animals. That's a credit that isn't often given to them. They can handle cold typically quite well, often easily into the teens (in Fahrenheit). However, how cold is too cold for chickens of various ages?
    Feather footed breeds like Cochins and D'Uccles and breeds with smaller combs like Brahmas, Easter Eggers, Wyandottes and Chanteclers tend to serve better in colder climates.
    Often, Mediterranean breeds and breeds with large single combs such as Leghorns, Anconas, Andalusians, Campines, etc tend to suffer more in the cold, especially the roosters.
    Chickens in housed in wet environments don't pair well with biting cold.


    But they can surprise us. I know that some owners in the far north keep their birds without heat. How? Do you suffer losses? And, additionally, for everyone, when is it too cold for younger birds?

  2. lutherpug

    lutherpug Songster

    Jan 5, 2014
    Northeast Kansas
    Last New Years Day it was -11F *without* windchill and my 6 hens were all running around the yard like no big deal. Including the one that was molting.

    I was actually asking about younger birds and temps earlier as I'm going to have to transition some 6-8 week olds outdoors in the next week where there will easily be a 20-30 degree difference than what they're used to. I'm sure they'll be fine, I'm not worried about the temps, just the adjustment.
    DobieLover, puffypoo, Cyprus and 2 others like this.
  3. Cyprus

    Cyprus Master of the 'never give up' attitude

    I think the initial adjustment will be at least a little stressfull. Maybe you could find a way to work it down about 10 degrees at a time?
    DobieLover and MissChick@dee like this.
  4. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Songster

    Jul 18, 2013
    Kalispell MT
    I have never lost a chicken in the winter. Got down to -22 F last year. At that temperature they were out in the run all day long, pecking, and drinking , and eating. I do have clear plastic around 3 sides of the run to stop wind from blowing on them. One of the keys to keeping a bird comfortable is to provide a place for them that is out of the wind. Their down coats keep them warm.
  5. lutherpug

    lutherpug Songster

    Jan 5, 2014
    Northeast Kansas
    I really can't. Transporting 25 chickens back and forth to acclimate them is just not going to happen. I'd be more concerned if they were younger but they should be 7-9 weeks old by the time we get them in the coop and they're currently used to 40-50 degrees so they should be fine at 20-30.
  6. Cyprus

    Cyprus Master of the 'never give up' attitude

    Yeah, they'll be fine with that :)
    EggWalrus, Melky and lutherpug like this.
  7. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Crowing

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    My first Flock of chickens Golden Comets 31 months old presently have been through two winters of -13 Fahrenheit first winter and -15 Fahrenheit last winter without a loss or Frostbite. My Comets dust bathing recently. 20181104_162519.jpg .
    I also currently have 12 week old Barred Rocks and they have been through low 20s Fahrenheit several times. No frostbite or loss. I don't know how they will handle winter. It's my first late summer Chicks. But I don't doubt they will survive without a problem. Barred Rocks are known to be a cold hearty Breed. 20181105_091038.jpg . GC
  8. Cyprus

    Cyprus Master of the 'never give up' attitude

    I didn't know Plymouth Rocks were good with the cold. Lesson learned!
    I've found that my D'Uccle boys consistently get frostbite at 30 and below but my Leghorns THRIVE in winter.
    puffypoo, EggWalrus and GC-Raptor like this.
  9. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Ahem: First of all regarding the dreaded "wind chill". Wind chill is simply a computation of how the combination of wind speed and temperature act upon exposed skin. Now, if your chickens are outside and bald, it might be an issue. But it's really not with them. "Exposed skin" is the key phrase here. They are thickly feathered (unless they are molting) and most of them won't go outside when it's super cold anyway. And we are usually very good about making sure that their coop, although ventilated, is not blowing a draft directly on them. So we can pretty much toss wind chill out of the equation.

    I don't use heat. I especially don't use heat lamps for any reason, not even for brand new, just hatched chicks. I detest them. I don't trust them. But that's me, and I know (and respect) that others feel differently. I have never lost a bird to cold, and we are in Northwestern Wyoming not too far from Yellowstone Park. We KNOW winters here - a few years ago we got our last snowfall of the year on June 6th. Yeah, like that. I don't use heat, I don't insulate, and when I go out to do morning chores I just leave the people door open, regardless of weather conditions. If they want to go out, they do. Even the Silkies have gone out when it was 9 degrees and the ground was deep with snow.

    I raise chicks outside in the run in an open wire brooder, so the adults can walk around them on three sides. I don't use a heat lamp out there for them either. I prefer Mama Heating Pad, and our springtime temps are still in the 20s, dipping into the teens. Never lost a chick, either. Have I just been lucky? I don't know. But if I ain't broke, I ain't fixing it!
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I might be pushing things close to limit with my American Games roosting in trees or other exposed roosting sites. Adults are measurable tougher than even pullets approaching point of lay. Birds in poor health / low weight are at a disadvantage. Poor body feathering is bad, major loss of wing feathers bad, and total loss of tail not a problem. Being in molt like some are now is bad.

    They will roost tight in exposed locations until temperature drops below 0 F. Virtually all will retreat to more protected locations when temperatures drop further, especially when wind it involved. Minus 10 F is about as low as mine will tolerate before moving when initially roosting in trees.

    Juvenile birds can die under blizzard conditions if they fail to find cover. By blizzard I mean less than 0 F with strong wind.

    Break downs can be even shown for chicks with varies markedly with age up to 5 weeks.

    Wind is everything and should not be ignored.

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