How cold is too cold?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by spacecowgirl, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. spacecowgirl

    spacecowgirl Songster

    Jul 30, 2011
    I understand that chickens are much better off in the Winter than in the Summer, but what temperature is way too low for chickens to stay outside?

    We had temps in the low 20's this morning, and they seemed fine...but what if it drops into the negative 10's, or even worse, 0's? When is it time to bring them inside? ( This is my first Winter with chickens, so thanks for the help in advance ).
  2. DanEP

    DanEP Songster

    May 15, 2010
    Cadiz Ky
    As long as they have a dry draft free coop with plenty of ventilation they will be ok, providing that they are winter hardy breeds and have been outside this fall to aclimate to the colder weather. Just make sure that they have water and food and they will be fine. Just remember that they will eat more in the colder weather, at least mine do.
  3. jenni22776rn

    jenni22776rn Songster

    Mar 6, 2011
    Central Maine
    Last winter was the first time with chickens for me also..I only had 3 ladies and when it dropped to negative numbers I brought them inside..but after a couple of times I noticed it was causing them more distress being in a warm house or garage..then if they were I made sure they had plenty of bedding..right before bed I gave them extra scratch and in the morning gave them warm water with warm mash..they were fine! This year though I have 12 large hens with a new insulated coop that is great for long as they have a nice warm coop with bedding and good ventilation they should be ok..providing extra food prior to bed also is a good idea..making sure the roost allows them to lay down on their toes also is needed...I also read on this forum that rubbing vaseline on their combs also to prevent forstbite...but as long as they have good ventilation to prevent condesation they should be good..although I did use that trick last year myself..and will also this year!
  4. trooper

    trooper Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    [​IMG][​IMG]:old I have found on BYC that alot of people really care about their chickens.That is wonderful.When it's cold outside I open my coop and let them do their thing.They don't like snow but they will venture into the snow or cold and they will suprise you.My roost has a 2x4 with the 4 face up so that they can keep their feet warm when they roost.[​IMG][​IMG]
  5. keckels

    keckels Chirping

    May 30, 2011
    I feel stupid. I never could understand roosting keeping their feet from getting frostbitten. I was thinking of them standing on the roost, not using their body to keep their feet warm.

  6. JodyJo

    JodyJo Songster

    Sep 27, 2010
    mine have already gone to 0 and maybe tonight minus 0...they do fine...out in the freezing cold winds...but at night, all tucked in their coop, pop door left open, but a curtain over it to slow drafts down when the biting wind blows. they have about 7 inches of shavings on the floor...they truly do better without added heat...check out this post:
  7. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Songster

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    Chickens love cold weather. The heat is what kills them.
  8. Trishkabob

    Trishkabob Songster

    Oct 30, 2010
    Schuylerville, NY
    I agree with everyone who eschews heatlamps; chickens do fine in cold if chosen well for the climate you will be keeping them in....but,
    my question is what to do if someone is going through a big molt when the temp.s turn cold? We have had a freakishly warm fall in eastern mid-state NY. Now it is getting cold, quickly/suddenly and one of ours is nearly bald. She seems fine during the day and I am adding more sunflower seeds and oatmeal to treats but I wonder if birds sometimes die at night when temp.s drop fast. She has 2 coopmates to sleep against but one of those is also molting.
    anyone have experience with sudden cold during hard molts?
  9. lalaland

    lalaland Crowing

    Sep 26, 2008
    Pine County MN
    I've had chickens who have had a very hard molt when it has been below zero outside. Up the fat content a little, you probably are upping the protein too for the feather building. Give them corn before bedtime - might be an old farmers tale, but thats what I do.

    I have added heat at night to keep the coop above freezing when there is lots of bare skin - they've been fine and I've never had a problem. When their feathers come in more, I go back to no heat unless it gets below zero. Like to keep it above zero, but I don't think it is necessary to do so as long as it is pretty draft free.
  10. skunknchatter

    skunknchatter Songster

    Aug 19, 2007
    Northern Utah
    We get between -10 -20F at night in the winter here for almost 2 months. I have never had a chicken freeze to death or a comb or waddle get frostbite. And during the day my chickens are out of the coop and in the snow a lot. They choose to go outside I don't lock them out. I agree that the heat is usually more of a problem than the cold. Just make sure they are dry and out of the wind. Heat lamps scare me cuz I've heard horror stories of coops burning down at night. I also prefer a 2x4 for a roost because it allows them to cover their feet all the way with their bodies keeping their toes nice and toasty.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: