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I'm new to chickens

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Chixlittel, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. Chixlittel

    Chixlittel Chirping

    Nov 20, 2014
    Hello. I got my chickens on sept 9 . I have 5 buff orpingtons, and 6 Rhode Island reds. I lost one buff at 4 days old. I live in Wisconsin, and we had a freak cold spell and I couldn't keep the brooder warm enough. It was horrible. She pasted up, and I did everything that I knew to do, but she died in my hands. I also almost lost a Rhode Island Red. She got constipated and thankfully my vet has chickens and she walked me thru what I needed to do. It was quite crazy. I had to put her in warm water, and massage her back end. But she pulled thru. So my chickens are 10 weeks old know. We are having very unseasonable weather here in Wisconsin. My husband still has not got the chicken coop finished. My chickens live in my basement, I want to move them out to our attached garage to get them use to the cold, but my garage is very cold. I know I'm Going to have to put the heat lamp on them again, but if I don't get them use to the cold, am I looking for trouble? I don't want to lose them. My husband was building me this really nice coop. I call it a chicken mansion. It just has taken a lot longer than expected. Then we got snow, now it's literally only 6 degrees out. I'm worried if I don't get them acclimated to the cold now, will they ever be use to it?

  2. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Crowing

    May 14, 2014
    Welcome to BYC! Glad you decided to join our flock. I'm sorry about the loss of your Buff Orpington. I've raised BOs for years, and they are wonderful birds; cold hardy, calm and gentle (my children, and now my granddaughter, made lap pets of them), and good layers of large, brown eggs. Your birds will get acclimated to the cold easily enough. Feathers are excellent insulators. Just make sure that their coop is well draft free, dry, and well ventilated to prevent moisture from collecting inside of it. Moisture is a much greater danger than cold. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Good luck with your flock.
  3. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

    Sorry for your loss![​IMG]

    Since your basement is cold then they will have an easier time getting used to the cold outside. But if they are only 2 months old then you should wait a little longer especially if it's in the single digits. You can probably let them live outside once they are around 3 months. (A little before then is fine.) Normally, you could let them out now but since it's so cold, you should wait.

    Once they do go outside, their coop should have all the necessities needed for surviving in the cold. The most important necessities include ventilation, dry bedding, heated water and 4" roosts.

    You need good venting in your coop ceiling to rid the coop air of all this unwanted, moist air. If you don't put in good ventilation, during those really cold winter nights, all this moisture is going to rise up to the ceiling since warm air rises, and if it has no place to go, it will fall back down as water or frost making your birds very cold and uncomfortable.

    The ideal way to create good venting is put in 1 square foot per bird of venting in the roof. Split it half and half on either side of the ceiling, one vent higher than the other. If the coop ceiling is not very high then position the roosts lower to the ground. You don't want any venting near the floor. This will create drafts. So what really does this do? It makes it so the moist air from the chickens slowly rises into this positive air coming in the lower vent and out the upper vent. Birds themselves put out heat. So they literally are roosting in a nice warm bubble of air. The moist air rises and goes out these vents. You don't want to disturb this air space around the birds with drafts. So make sure to seal up all cracks above the birds a foot or two.

    Venting can be worked on those cold winter nights by closing off some of the lower vents to slow air movement in the coop. You never want to close off the higher vents. You will not retain much heat by closing off the vents, but you will keep the birds drier, especially if it is a bitterly cold night and you use heat lamps. Hot air meeting cold air creates condensation, so keep the air moving to prevent this.

    ~Thanks to Two Crows for the info.

    Other things to do to help keep your chickens snug this winter include using straw as a bedding, using the 4" inch side of a 2x4 roosts. I also put a towel that has been in the dryer and put it on the roosts to warm their feet. Make sure that there is no water spillage or moisture collection on the bedding as this can also result in frostbite. On the very cold nights you should rub vaseline on the chickens' combs and wattles to help prevent freezing.
    Here's a link on frostbite and ventilation.

    You don't need a heat lamp if you have ventilation, proper bedding, proper roosts and proper feed. In the winter you should be feeding your normal layer, grower or chick feed along with scratch as this will keep the birds warm especially if you feed it in the evenings.

    Bedding that is warm and absorbent is also necessary. Wet bedding mixed with the cold temps and wind chills equals bad frostbite. So either use straw, shavings or shredded paper. Straw is possibly the best bedding to use in winter. Line the nests with straw to help prevent eggs from freezing. Bales of straw help act as insulation and keep the coop even warmer.

    Heated water bowls are also imperative. Chickens drink non-stop in winter and they can't do that if their water is frozen! So either buy a heated bowl or use a heated base on the bottom of their regular waterer. I've also heard of people who place a 40 watt bulb in between bricks and then put the water on top in a bowl. Make sure the waterer isn't plastic.

    Here is a link on things to and not to do in winter

    Good luck!!
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014
    3 people like this.
  4. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 Free Ranging Premium Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC! Sorry for your losses :hugs You've gotten some good suggestions from Mountain Peeps and Michael on winterizing your flock. Good luck with your birds.
  5. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Hello there and welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    So sorry you lost your baby. It is never easy to lose them. Mountain Peeps and Michael have left you with some great information. If you need any more help, feel free to ask. Welcome to our flock!
  6. BayBay Peepers

    BayBay Peepers Crowing

    Apr 5, 2013
    Welcome to BYC! I feel your pain with this early cold snap. (YUCK) I'm very sorry to hear you lost a buff.

    I wouldn't worry too much about acclimating. It will work. :) We have a heat lamp attached to a thermostat so if you wanted to control the temp a little bit while they get used to it you can. I think we picked up the thermostat for maybe 30-40 dollars at menards. If you use a heat lamp make sure to check it daily. Make sure nothing is near it that is flammable and make sure the cord stays intact. I had one go wonky on me early this season and burst into flames (not trying to scare you away from using it just a heads up)

    Good luck with the rest of your flock and heads up because this weekend is suppose to warm up a bit :) (and then rain)
  7. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]We're glad to have you.

  8. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Glad you joined the flock. Hope you enjoy Backyard chickens as much as we do.
  9. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member Project Manager

    Jan 10, 2013
    [​IMG] So glad you joined us.

    Sorry about the loss of the chick.
  10. Chixlittel

    Chixlittel Chirping

    Nov 20, 2014
    Thank you everyone for the welcome. I'm enjoying my chickens a lot. They are so goofy.
    I love it when the make that thrill, purring kind of sound. I can't wait to get my first eggs.

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