Lock up....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Oma Char, Jan 21, 2017.

  1. Oma Char

    Oma Char Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 6, 2015
    We live on the Missouri River with hawks, eagles, and coyotes and racoons galor! We were noticing that the hawks were getting more aggressive toward our hens so we decided ....along with that, and the winter, and extreme cold, that we would just keep the ladies in the coop. They have a 12 x 16 insulated shed.... as in a utility shed.... with built in nesting boxes and roosting bars...hanging feeders and heated waterer. They have a nice window for natural light and a clear heat lamp and one red heat lamp all on timers, so that they get plenty of light for laying. They have been giving me 13 eggs one day and 9 or 10 the next day. For awhile I was getting 17 eggs one day and 13 the next. They seem very happy! I clean it out every other day. They don't even want to go outside the shed. I've left the door open and they don't like the snow and cold. They run right back inside. I guess they must be happy, as I'm getting consistent eggs. I am just making sure I'm okay with keeping them inside for the winter??
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! My first comment would be about the heat lamps; sounds like overkill to me. Chickens don't need to be at 70F all year! Otherwise, sounds fine. How many birds? My birds aren't fond of snow either, but chilly weather isn't really that much of a problem for them. Do you have a backup generator and a plan if the power goes out? They won't be acclimated to the cold, not good. Mary
  3. Oma Char

    Oma Char Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 6, 2015
    We've had many days and nights of anywhere from -10 to -34 below zero weather here in Montana. Some days did not get above -4. So the girls were not overly warm. I go out and check on them. We have an alarm to alert us if the electricity has gone off.
  4. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    Cold hardy types of chickens are good down to -20 Fahrenheit from what I've read. My Golden Comets have seen -1 this winter and 4 on two mornings with highs in the low teens two days straight. They stayed in the coop most of the time, at their choice. I do have a heat lamp fixture in the coop with an LED bulb. If it goes below zero in the coop, I will screw in a heat lamp, but I will not put it at full intensity in my 4x5 coop. It's hooked up to a dimmer. I have a thermometer in the coop. I would adjust it to bring up the temperature to the teens Fahrenheit.
    I have feed and water on a heated base in the coop. The temperature in the coop was around 10 degrees when it was -1, with 5 chickens and the heated water keeping it warmer than outside even with an open vent to keep humidity in check. GC
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2017
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Ohhh Montana......when you say Missouri river most folks think of the state.
    Are those air temps or windchill?

    12x16 sounds fine for 17 birds to be confined, with good ventilation.......
    .....but their behaviors will tell the truest tale.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Many people transfer a lot of their feelings onto our chickens, if we are not comfortable they must not be. Some people have pretty strong rigid ideas about what their chickens need so they feel everyone else absolutely must treat their chickens the same way or they are being cruel to their chickens. As Aart sort of said, your chickens will tell you how they are doing. You don’t have to follow conventions or do what other people say you have to do. If your chickens are doing fine, they are doing fine, regardless of anything you read on here.

    Whether or not to heat the coop is one of those. Do chickens need heat in those temperatures? Probably not, but some of that depends on how your coop is built and ventilated. You could run into health problems if you turn the heat off. They may stop or greatly reduce laying if you don’t provide heat or light. The electricity to run those lamps costs money. Hopefully the lamps are securely wired in place so nothing, you the chickens or anything else, can knock it down and start a fire. Providing a warm area will alter their behavior. Mine don’t go out in the snow the first few days, but eventually some will go out and wade through it to forage on weeds and grass sticking up through it. Some, not all. If you provide heat they are less likely to go out. If they spend all their time in the coop you will have to work a little harder on poop management since they are not spreading it around as much.

    I feel there are risks and consequences whichever way you go. As long as you understand the risks it’s your choice. I don’t know what your plan is if the power does go out, I have a generator but not to keep the adult chickens warm.

    Good luck!
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    An other consideration is this: Are you dusting those lamps frequently? Are they high enough that there is no possibility of shavings getting kicked up to them, or feathers floating around near them for that matter? I'm sure you've used your hand to check all surfaces near the lamps to be sure there is not too much heat there. Checked the cord for heat? Ceramic bulb fixtures? I will say that when we've had below 0* temps 24/7, I have provided SOME supplemental heat in the form of a flower pot heater in a small coop with a small flock, or a heat lamp in a big coop with a larger flock. The bird's behavior has been the deciding factor. If they are not moving well, if they are not active, if they are eating less instead of more, that to me is an indication that they are hypothermic, and a bit of heat is in order.

    While chickens can and will and do survive in low temps, a lot depends on your husbandry methods, and what your goals are. Many people, even in sub zero temps bring their flocks through the winter without any supplemental heat just fine. If those flocks are in a nice sized coop, with nice deep bedding, they should do great. If they are in a tiny coop, without much in the way of bedding, they may have issues. In days of old, flocks were kept in the barn where they had the benefit of the extra heat being generated by large herd animals, any manure that may be present in those stalls, as well as the heat generated by the hay stored in the hay mow. Those conditions do not readily translate to the typical back yard flock conditions. Commercial flocks are in climate controlled buildings because it makes financial sense to the business man to do so. There are formulas worked out that tell the farmer how much his feed bill will increase for every incremental drop in temperature. Their profit margin dictates that the coops must be heated or cooled to provide optimum conditions. Should we be trying to mimic that? Not IMO. But, at the same time. I question the statement, "my chickens survive the winter without heat, so no chickens need heat." When considering the application of heat, one needs to do a risk assessment: do my birds NEED the heat, or am I doing it to make me feel better? If they truly NEED the heat, can I provide it in a safe manner? How can I do so safely? Explore the option of a heat source that is not a 250W heat lamp.
    1 person likes this.

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