molting and sub-zero temps

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kbrunnergirl, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. Nothing! They will be fine in the unheated coop

    4 vote(s)
    80.0%
  2. Bring them in basement

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  3. Bring Brinsea Ecoglow into coop

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. kbrunnergirl

    kbrunnergirl Out Of The Brooder

    20
    1
    24
    Aug 21, 2013
    Hello from Massachusetts! I have a mixed flock of 5 hens ~ 1.5 years old. They have done wonderfully in an uninsulated/unheated coop through last years horrible, snowy, cold winter, and have been fine this year so far. Unfortunately two of my hens began their molt quite late, and are still regrowing their feathers. We have been below freezing a few times, but this week we are expected to get well below 0, even down to -10F at night with a high of 15F for 3 days straight. Normally I would just make sure they had full crops, close the pop door and be confident that they are hardier than I think, but am concerned about the late molters (and one is a teeny tiny bantum). They aren't naked, but they are definitely not fully feathered. I have an unheated basement (~55F) that I could potentially bring them into for the super cold nights (my husband would have an absolute fit but I don't care!). I also have their Brinsea Ecoglow from when they were chicks - I could put this in the coop and plug it in. Not sure how much benefit this would have. What do you experienced chicken keepers think?
     
  2. familyfarm1

    familyfarm1 Overrun With Chickens

    6,322
    279
    306
    Jun 9, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    I've never had temperatures that low here in VA so I'm not an expert![​IMG] But putting a heating lamp in the coop for extra warmth would probably be best. Hope your hens do alright![​IMG]
     
  3. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

    184
    21
    80
    Aug 1, 2014
    Mountains of WNC
    We're looking at the 0* - 5* range this week. We've got one of our eight hens who started her molt late and isn't fully feathered. Our plan for the next several nights is the same plan we use every night - close the girls in their coop to protect them from night predators, tell them good night, and go back inside. We're counting on their being used to winter weather, though the last week has been warmer than usual.

    I would not recommend any ancillary heat source. It seems to me it would be more strain on the birds to go from a chilly day like today (high here of 35*) to warm and potentially wide temp swings going in and out. The other problem with ancillary heat is the drastic change if that heat source fails.

    Y'all stay warm up there.
     
  4. Tanka

    Tanka Out Of The Brooder

    60
    0
    41
    Apr 28, 2013
    Massachusetts
    I'm from MA too and was wondering the same thing! I have a late molter who's got bare spots. I was leaning towards bringing her into my basement for the coldest night. I really don't want to put a heat lamp in my coop.
     
  5. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

    184
    21
    80
    Aug 1, 2014
    Mountains of WNC

    How many hens do you have? How many have bare spots? If you have enough fully feathered, the bare ones will likely be fine in an enclosed coop. Is the coop open / drafty?
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    35,641
    9,125
    656
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Had 2 bare backed hens last winter...and it was a frigid one.
    They were fine..... one of them was usually the only bird in the flock to be out on the snow pack.
     
  7. Brookliner

    Brookliner Chillin' With My Peeps

    520
    48
    141
    Mar 18, 2012
    Southern New Hampshire
    I have one hen who still has no feathers on her bottom from breast to vent. I brought her and her BFF in to a coop I have in my garage for this week. When the weather turns warmer or at least not frigid I will return them to the main coop. It will also give me a chance to feed some extra protein...meal worms...to promote feather growth.:yiipchick
     
  8. Tanka

    Tanka Out Of The Brooder

    60
    0
    41
    Apr 28, 2013
    Massachusetts
    @WNCcluck I have 12. 6 goes in one coop and 6 in the other and they share a run. I only have one with bare spots. Her chest, under her belly, to her bum is all bare.
     
  9. flock 603

    flock 603 Out Of The Brooder

    25
    0
    24
    Mar 31, 2014
    New Hampshire
    i am in southern new hampshire and dealing with the simlar issues.

    One of my girls is missing a small patch on her crop but thats it.

    temps are expected to drop to -8 with extreme wind chill (not that that matters much to them in the coop, its draft free and i can block the windows in such a way wind does enter but vapor/moisture can circulate out)

    Last night temps got down near zero and the coop never dipped below 21 degrees with only our 6 hen's heat and the ice melter i have running in their water bucket (5 gallon bucket with watering nipples)

    the bucket stayed thawed and the girls seemed completely normal and happy this morning at 0500 when i went to check on them before work.


    I'm nervous about them facing their first deep sub zero temps, hoping all my preperation and design holds up.

    guess i'm just looking to comiserate with some local folks.

    one question i do have: early morning thursday? i think, the temps are still going to be in the negatives with -20 or -25 wind chill. should i leave my girls inside their coop for that day or trust their judgement to go inside when they feel too cold?

    i'm leaning towards confinement.

    stay warm everyone.
     
  10. WNCcluck

    WNCcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

    184
    21
    80
    Aug 1, 2014
    Mountains of WNC
    Six chickens can put off a fair amount of heat. As long as the one isn't ousted from the roost with the others, I would think she'd be ok.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by