How cold is too cold?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lauranickerson, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. lauranickerson

    lauranickerson Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Being from Northern Michigan, we get some serious cold weather here. We got snow about a week ago, which they already aren't happy about, but I'm worried about them freezing. Daytime temps have been about mid-30's and nights are anywhere from 22 degrees (right now) to the single digits. There isn't electricity out there, and don't want to run an extension all the way out there either (especially with all the horror stories I've read on here about extension cords).

    Are they going to be fine? I have mostly cold hardy breeds, except maybe my Leghorn and Sebright bantams.

    Depending on the cost, I could possibly pick up a propane heater that I could run for a couple hours and shut it off before I go to bed?

    I had chickens as a kid without supplying them with anything extra and remember them being fine.

    I'm working on the deep litter method, which I'm hoping will generate a little heat, too.

    Any advice would be appreciated!
     
  2. Mtn Laurel

    Mtn Laurel Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    You don't say how old your birds are but if they're fully feathered and have been without heat up to this point, they'll be just fine. Note: I don't have bantams so can't speak for them, maybe someone else will chime in on those.

    As you say, they raised chickens without supplemental heat in years past and they all did well. We've had an early cold snap and it went from sweater weather to 18 degrees in the same day and my girls were just fine with it. I wasn't so happy about it as it was our first frozen waterer of the year!

    You risk losing your birds and coop to fire with supplemental heat plus your birds will have a real problem should they get used to the heat and you lose power or run out of propane. Keep building up that deep litter, close off obvious drafts while retaining ventilation, and your girls will be just fine with those wonderful feather coats that Mother Nature so thoughtfully provided.
     
  3. Katt66

    Katt66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm in East Central PA, we've had nights down to 7 degrees already. Everybody's fine here.
    Their shelter is a good draft free raised coop with good ventilation at the roof eves. And an roofed run covered with plastic to keep wind down.

    My flock is a mix, ranging in age from 6 weeks at the youngest to 6 months at the oldest. I've got 9 pullets, 2x EEs , 2X Sebrights , a Black and a Buff Orpington, a White Leghorn, a Speckled Sussex, and a Welsummer. With a single EE rooster. I don't know how the Sebrights would be with nothing but other Sebrights but mine snuggle next to the Orpingtons and EE's and seem quite comfortable and happy. And the White Leghorn is unphased by anything. And goes about her business alongside the "cold hardy" breeds.

    As long as your birds have a draft free place to roost at night they will be fine in any temperatures. It's not cold that gets them it's drafts and humidity. Just put your hand in their feathers, you'll see how warm they are with their built in down parkas. As long as there's no breeze to open up those feathers and let the heat out of their natural insulation. And no humidity to allow for condensation on sensitive areas and invite frostbite.

    I know I, myself, have to continually fight the feeling that I'm a bad chicken Mommy because they don't have a nice warm heated place to live like my family and other pets do. They are not dogs/cats/rabbits/kids, etc though. They are much more comfortable in low temperatures than in higher ones. Don't worry, they'll be fine.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  4. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've read of Leghorns and Bantams doing well in cold regions without heat and I have also read of some that don't do well in extreme cold. It is best to obviously have a cold hardy breed if you are in a northern region.

    Whether you add a lamp or not is up to you but a well designed/built coop will go along way to their survivability. Electric to the coop is very nice to have for cold climates since you can have water 24/7 for the birds without the worry of water freezing and the need to haul water often. An extension cord in conduit to the coop and hookup can be done safely with some common sense and would be a better option than the propane if you choose to go that route. Our lamps aid with egg production but do not provide much heat in the coop.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. TallJ

    TallJ Out Of The Brooder

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    I think it is a little like people who live in Minnesota and people who live in Florida.If you are used 'cold' being 50 degrees then 30 is going to be hard to hack. If 'cold' is -10 degrees then 20 is kinda warm! We have had frost and freezing nights where I have had my front coop windows cracked and the back vent open. All the girls have been fine. We got in to the teens and I had just the front windows cracked, everyone is happy. They have been out foraging in the freezing temps too. I am more concerned about it than they are!!! They are better off getting used to the weather than being coddled. Just think - they all have down coats on!!!
     
  6. DCchicken

    DCchicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My parents raised Leghorns in the mountains of Wyoming before there was even electricity. My mom laughed at me when I asked if the chickens needed heat. They will be fine with the cold. If Leghorns can survive subzero temps in the mountains of Wyoming, they can survive where you live. I am assuming, of course that you are not living at 12K feet or above. If you are, then you probably more concerned with your own survival this winter.

    Edit: I meant to say Grandparents not my parents. But I guess Mom probably helped out too.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
  7. lauranickerson

    lauranickerson Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Most of my birds are from a March/April hatch, though my youngest are my 3 BLR Wyandottes, which are now..hmm....wow, almost 19 weeks old!

    I will probably build the ultimate coop when I move, and it will have electricity built in with water hook ups, too (if I don't just build a barn and keep them in that instead...).

    Here are some pictures I took this morning.


    Got about a foot of snow overnight. Before it was just a couple inches at the most.
    [​IMG]

    Still working on putting a metal roof over the run. Dad is cutting most of the boards out of hemlock on the sawmill.
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    This coop is 10+ years old, and still haven't put the corners on!
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    We keep the bunny in the run, too. Dad built that hutch out of hemlock from the mill, as well.
    [​IMG]

    The coop is in desperate need of cleaning and more straw, but the wind was pretty still in there.
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    One of my little Bantams. :) All 3 have runny noses and are sneezing. :( I don't know what to do for them, though...
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    They are so cute when they sink their heads in and puff up to stay warm. :)
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    One of my EE's standing on the nesting boxes/poop board.
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    This corner got a little breezy and a little snow came in. :/ Going to try to get those on along with the roof.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. JonB

    JonB Out Of The Brooder

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    Laura, I live in Gaylord, so I can relate...lol. We've had snow, for the most part, since the third week of October. Lots of teens and some single digits. This morning was 10 below, but they all did fine. They LOVED the sunshine for half the day; seems like it's been over a month since we've had sun!
     
  9. lauranickerson

    lauranickerson Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh man! Gaylord gets pretty bad!

    My goal is to go all winter without electricity. My aunt called me last night, telling me her neighbor's coop just burned down, and was able to save a rooster and a couple ducks, who needed a new home. I will be taking them in tonight, but that just solidifies my reasons of why I don't want electricity in there. I mean, someday, in my future dream coop, it will be wired in the right way, but I've heard way too many horror stories about extension cords. I used them a little this spring when all these pictured chickens were just babies, but I was also using sand bedding at that time, so there was less of a threat.
     
  10. Katt66

    Katt66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah I did have a heat lamp on my babies when I first put them out back in early Nov. at 5 wks old. But I had only sand in the coop and run at the time. When I stuffed the coop with straw the heat lamp not only got turned off, I took it right out. Won't go back in there again. Everybody's nice and warm without it all snuggled up together.
     

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