Lost three to the cold, what to do?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Tanichca, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. Tanichca

    Tanichca Sparkle Magnet

    May 6, 2009
    Vail, Arizona
    It isn't really that cold here, maybe about 30 at night, but I've lost three chickens (two babies and full grown bantam wyandotte) to the temps! Pretty sure that's it at least, as the bodies were unmarked and stiff, covered in frost. I'll be moving all the babies inside all day and all the adult bantams inside at night, but what do I do for the larger birds? Their coop is very open to all the weather, and every time I make shelters and fill them with hay, the birds kick it out! One bird is also in a molt, and I'm worried about her a lot because she looks so naked! Running a heater isn't an option.

    There is a shed I could put them in, but the cages are very small for them to be staying in for the week until the warmth comes back. Maybe put them all in at night? How cramped can a couple of chickens (a HUGE EE roo, an Australorp, and a Leghorn) be and not start pecking each other?
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
  2. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    I'm so sorry Tanichca.

  3. cmclean

    cmclean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 20, 2011
    Sorry about your lost babies. It doesn't get really cold here in my part of Texas, either, but we did have a few nights in the 30s. After reading all the posts from people who live up north where it gets down to zero and below, sounds like the best thing we can do is insulate our coops. I put clear sheeting all around mine. (Just stapled it to the wood) That seems to make it draft free and cozy. I also put hay on the floor to add more warmth. They really enjoyed kicking it around and rearranging it.
    I hope you can keep the rest of your flock safe and warm.
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    It could be your chickens died from the stress of the cold but not necessarily the cold itself. Birds with compromised health and immune systems may perish with the added stress of keeping warm in cold temps...just as they do in the extreme heat and the stress added to the body by these conditions. Natural selection.

    I've had birds drop off the roost dead in the winter months...and in the other seasons as well. After examining their bodies I found a purple comb and wattles and a subsequent autopsy revealed diseased hearts with clots in evidence.

    as the bodies were unmarked and stiff, covered in frost.

    One of the problems could be this....frost does not happen unless there is moisture. I've never had frost inside my coop, no matter how cold it got. I have an old coop with big cracks in the walls and I leave the pop door open all year. I've had snow blow into the pop door...but no frost on any surface, even in single digit temps.​
  5. Darklingstorm

    Darklingstorm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 10, 2011
    Durant, Oklahoma
    It would help us to help you, if you could post a picture of your coop. I would get some tarps and secure them down (make walls), then add hay. The birds will kick it around but the tarps should help to keep it in one area so that they can dig themselves in when they get cold. I've also heard that giving them scratch feed before bedtime will help them keep warm (digestion brings their temps up).
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Well...actually digestion diverts the blood to the core and the digestive system, instead of to the extremities where it is needed most in colder temps. They've got feathers to warm their core/torso. Remember not eating before you swim because the muscles cramp from loss of circulation due to the blood being diverted to digestion....?
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    [​IMG] So sorry about your birds...

    If it's only for a week or so, the shed sounds like a decent option. And I think they could handle being cramped as long as it's just overnight - put in there at dusk and let out at dawn. I hope the rest of your flock hangs in there... [​IMG]
  8. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2009
    Did they get wet before nightfall? Feathers can't insulate if they're soaked.

    Was there any change to their housing recently? It's very odd that an adult, fully feathered chicken can't manage 30 degree temps if it has a dry, draft free place to roost. I have tiny, part Serama bantams and they handle temps in the 20's just fine.
  9. bigstack

    bigstack Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2010
    Texarkana, TX
    Sorry for your loss!! [​IMG]

    Most chickens (other than silkies) are usually fine down to zero, as long as they are out of any breeze or draft. I have several that refuse to sleep in the coop. Rain or snow! They will get frostbite on their combs but they stay out. They have the option of 2 different coops and a brooder pen that i leave open when not in use. They just refuse to sleep indoors. I was worried at first and would force them in..... as soon as I walked away...Out they came! It has been down into the 20's and they are fine. But they roost behind a wall out of the wind. As far as space concerns..... as long as its just over night, I think they would be fine. Now if it was a day or two.... Then I would have a lot of concern about pecking.

    Good luck and God bless!
  10. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Quote:My thought exactly. Perhaps you should describe your setup better. The shed could be a disaster if it is not well ventilated. And I don't understand the mention of cages if they are already in a shed. A coop that is open to the weather should not be a problem if it cuts off the wind onto them; this describes my setup well, and it gets into the 20's here.

    Bringing them inside is also a mistake IMO. It accustoms them to warmer temps, making them less able to tolerate cold when back outdoors.

    I suspect that cold had little or nothing to do with the deaths.

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