Letting my birds out when it's cold

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by MNL, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. MNL

    MNL In the Brooder

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    I have three chickens that hatched in May 2019, I live on Long Island. This is brand new to me and I am so afraid of doing wrong by my girls. I bought a tractor supply all in one coop with run attached, Innovation Pet Chicken Homestead Coop. It is 84" x 41" x 53". The hen house part of the coop sits up and off to one side of the whole unit. I have put plastic around all areas that were just hardware cloth, but left an open area up top at the "eve". I put rubber stripping around the doors and windows. The ground is covered with hay and up inside the hen house I have pine where the roosting bar is and hay where the nesting box is. I close them into the hen house at night, they are let down into the run during the day. I only let them out into my yard when I am home (so afraid of critters coming for them) My question is during the winter or like a day I had yesterday, where it was 40 degrees but a wind chill feel of 24, should I let them out of the run at all? The heat that they created inside the coop is escaping when I let them out into the yard and therefore is that bad? I want them to be able to stretch out a bit each day. Is it temperature or wind that is their enemy?
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  2. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crossing the Road

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    It will be fine to let them out, and preferable actually. Keep in mind that your goal is to keep them dry, not warm. They are warm enough in their natural down coats. What compromises that is moisture. If they were left inside all the time "to keep the warmth they created" in, you would be setting up an environment where moisture can build up. And letting them out lets them run around and get their exercise, which will also keep them warm. :wee
     
  3. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crossing the Road

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    Oh, and wind on the roosting bars is bad, but not bad in the run. If they get too cold outside, they will go back in voluntarily. Same thing with rain. My chickens go out in the rain often, but will head for shelter whenever they want, and they have plenty of indoor and outdoor shelter for that purpose. I've had to think this through, here in the rainy state.
     
  4. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Crowing

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    Chickens do not keep warm from the air around them. They wear a lovely down coat that traps their warm body heat and keeps them warm. Chickens can get frostbite when it is just below freezing in a moist coop whereas they will be fine at below 0 in a dry coop. Unfortunately your coop is just not set up to vent that warm moist air out of it during the night. You are kind of stuck with what you bought for now.

    Chickens are more suited to 40 degrees than they are to 80 degrees. Imagine wearing a down parka during the summer. That is what your chickens deal with during the summer. My chickens are out in the run when it is -22 F. They are pecking and eating and drinking and doing normal chicken things. They would be very upset if I locked them in. I would guess that if your chickens did get cold when it is 40 degrees with a wind chill factor of 24, they would be smart enough to go into their warm run. Wind is more the enemy than temperature.

    People are more comfortable in summer temperatures than in winter temperatures. That makes us believe that our animals are feeling the same way. Think about those little sparrows outside during the winter. They flit around doing bird things and do not appear to be unhappy. If they were uncomfortable and it was unsafe those sparrows would have developed the instinct to head south for the winter.
     
  5. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crossing the Road

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    Good answer. :goodpost:
     
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  6. ValerieJ

    ValerieJ Crossing the Road

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    Actually, is there a window on both sides like the one shown? Are they open in the winter? Have you positioned the coop so the weather, rain and wind, doesn't head directly for a window? Is the roosting bar out of the direct path of those windows? You might have enough ventilation if all this is true.
     
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  7. EggWalrus

    EggWalrus Free Ranging

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    And don't forget to pull all that plastic down and throw it in the garbage. Plastic causes build up of moisture and doesn't allow for ventilation. There is a whole lot of moisture in their breath and poo, that's why ventilation is more important than insulation.
     
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  8. CindyinSD

    CindyinSD Free Ranging

    It’s fine to tarp your run (especially to block the prevailing winds) as long as all the run areas are well-vented at top. As for your coop, I wouldn’t go to any effort to make it “tight.” Aside from drafts directly across the roosts, a little air infiltration is a good thing.

    If you find the coop area becoming humid or damp at all, you’ll need to add a vent or vents on the gable ends, high up. You can cut a hole with a reciprocating saw and either install a pre-made vent (a couple dollars or so from the building store) or staple on hardware cloth over the hole. Best to use a pneumatic stapler—easier, sturdier hold, less cussing, fairly reasonable in price and endlessly useful.

    Protect birds from wind, humidity and precipitation, not so much from cold. They’re amazingly tough when it comes to cold.
     
  9. Granny Hatchet

    Granny Hatchet Tastes like chicken

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    What kind of chickens do you have ? Their not all created equal when it comes to winter. :welcome
     
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  10. MNL

    MNL In the Brooder

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    I'm having a hard time with ventilation versus wind, lol. There is only one window like the one pictured. The roosting bar is right in front of it. I have rubber stripping around it to seal off drafts, however, it can still open if I chose. The wall of the hen house with the interior sliding wood door does not meet the roof line inside, there is about a 4 inch gap from the top of the interior wall to the roof line, so it is vented into the run area. I don't have the upper "triangular" exterior wall section of the run covered with the plastic so that should be providing ventilation, no? Can chickens be mutts? If so, that's what mine are. I work in a school and a co-worker brought in eggs from her various hens to one of our 6th grade classes to incubate. They were all fertilized by the same rooster, but all different hens. One is white w/ silkie traits, one is largeish buff like but also has that silkie extra toe, the last one is a very petite buff color with a mild pouff on her head.
     

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