Huddle Box? Good idea or No?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mobius, Dec 8, 2016.

  1. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    So hi everyone, it is dropping below zero at nights here! Chickens are doing well, so far. I have no extra heat, lights etc. I am feeding them warmed food and warm water in the morning and a bit of scratch in the evening, and a bit of suet during the day.

    So an idea popped in my head to maybe further help their comfort levels:

    I took a cardboard box with the top off and put it in their coop, top opening is vertical, at floor level, so perhaps they can huddle/cuddle during the day. It will fit at least three chickens...

    What do you think? I could also put it under the coop, where they do spend time when it is cold...
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016
  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chicks will use it but adults not so much.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    My birds as adults seldom get into confined spaces during the day. They will take advantage of loose hay or straw mounded up a little in direct sun.
     
  4. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    Great I will keep an eye on it and if they don't use it in a week out it goes. Hay and straw coming up! Love that idea! And even with the weather they aren't in the coop as much as I thought they would be during the day...they are out in the snow as a flock, it seems, or in a weather protected area they have found, but not huddled, just close to each other...so interesting....
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Outside, I would provide a straw bale or two plus a wooden pallet so birds can stay above snow. In years past when got the big snow events, most of the birds did not like walking through the snow. My games have no trouble flying 100 feet from place to place to keep from walking in deep snow. Since I have been playing with American Dominiques, I have dealt with a situation where they will walk out to a snow free location and stay there all day then come back to roost just before dark. I did not make paths for them to walk. What I did was scatter whole grains on the bales kept a feeder with actual feed in it at same location. Bales beyond what were needed to keep birds above snow where used to provide a wind break. Wind break was positioned so birds can be on sunny side of wind break and above snow.

    The setup used before adopting wind break described above. Birds then used each other as wind break so appeared, from a distance, to be huddling. They would stay there even with -10 F with considerable wind. Alternative roost for most was location shown below. Games at time actually had a roost on front porch.
    [​IMG]


    Setup below with light snow. As many as 18 birds slept up under and in the pen part above. When snow got deep they spent much of day simply perched on the sawhorse. I had another more snow free location off to right with straw bales and pallet as described above.
    [​IMG]



    Most of my free-range birds have it better now with the barn. When snow is deep and temperatures low, they do not come out of the barn. When we get the first blizzard of the year birds may not even eat much for two days straight. That lack of feeding seems to have some physiological role.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  6. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

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    Although where I live doesn't get much snow, we do get cold temps (22 right now) and high wind. During these days my chickens like to perch and turn themselves into 'footballs'. They prefer to stay outside but don't engage in much foraging behavior.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    On the other hand, my FIL's free range game fowl would perch in trees. Like the hens pictured above, they would create a barrier with feathers. And just like the above chickens they didn't actually 'huddle' but instead maintained a certain space between each other. On especially cold windy days (-10 wind chill factor) these game chickens would take over the porch of the house and commandeer the cat food bowl.

    Just a few observations from the sometimes cold South.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I've found they just want a wind break and cover over their heads if it's raining/snowing.
    Agrees huddle boxes for chicks...tho I kind of have a large 'huddle' area under the coop.

    The only run 'roof' I have is what I call the 'under-run', a ~5x8 section of run under the coop.
    Protected by wind blocks on 2 sides, other sides are under large shed which creates fair protection from wind.
    They spend a lot of time lounging there when the weather is frightful.
    It's under the ramp to pop door which is protected by an awning and a glass panel 'foyer' to block my wicked west wind.
    Also have roosts, and this year a bench, above snow level.
    I have to shovel out part of the run and a path to clear snow from mesh roof, they can access roost and bench from path.

    Just cleared the 5" we got last night, another 3-5 forecast for today, then 1-3 and 5-8 for the weekend.
    Greetings from a lake effect snow belt!
    [​IMG]
     
  8. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    You all are so generous with your pics and input! So I thought I would post some from this morning: 5 degrees out:

    [​IMG]
    Yum warm fermented feed and warm water! (the white stuff in the run is actually shredded paper on top of forest floor)
    [​IMG]
    A little bigger pic of run, dark, sadly...
    [​IMG]
    Their out of run area is just past that x-pen fence
    [​IMG]
    And a little bird's eye view...so there is quite a bit of cover for them. The run/coop is to the left out of the pic. Will try to get some better pics here. I think a straw bale in the outside area will be great!

    I should add there is virtually no wind here during the winter, (it is a bit of a microclimate in this part of the yard) and on top of that the coop is very protected between a tall retaining wall and the house.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    @mobius what state is the tree you are roosting in?
     
  10. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG] Deepest NW Montana. I will add to location!
     

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