Need help with cold weather!!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 1stChicky, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. 1stChicky

    1stChicky Out Of The Brooder

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    Are my chickens dumb or is this normal....I have a flock of 11 hens. I have a very large coop for them but the door is always open, they have full access to a large totally caged in area (it's caged in to keep predators out) so they can come/go in/out of the coop as they please. The coop is wired so once it hits a certain cold temperature the heat lamp kicks on and will bring it up to 70degrees. They chickens have food and water inside the coop as well as the chicken run. The problem is it can be 17outside and rainy and the chickens refuse to go in the coop. They only go in there to lay eggs, then they go right back outside. A couple days ago they were all outside, soaking wet in the rain, the wind was really bad, and it was going down to 15degrees outside. My husband and I picked each one up and put them in the coop. They seemed to enjoy it at first being warm and dry and sheltered from the rain...buuuut a few hours later they started clucking and freaking out so loud I heard them in the house so we went back out and took them out of the coop and put them in the run. Is this normal? Can chickens survive in below freezing temps? I have rhode island reds and some kin of white chicken (breed unknown). What can I do? I really worry about their health. If I wake up and go out one day and they're frozen, I'm going to be sooooo sad and upset!!
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I think you're doing your birds a huge disservice keeping the coop so warm, and they're telling you what they prefer. Animals aren't humans and don't have the same standards of comfort humans have. They expect to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer and are designed to handle both extremes. I say take the heat out of the coop and just continue to let them self regulate. They're not going to get hurt being in the cold or the rain, and I think going back and forth from the warm coop to the cold run is likely to make them more susceptible to getting ill. I'm in the PNW and have wet birds all the time, no problems. They go in when the want and out when they want, and I never get sick birds.
     
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  3. granny hatchet

    granny hatchet Tastes like chicken Premium Member

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    well, i just did the same thing!! i dont have the coop heated but its way warmer in there than the run and half of them stay out there freezing. i picked them up and made them stay in the coop. i made it dark in there so they would go to sleep but next night back to the same. i am guessing on this but i think the higher rooster in the flock is keeping them out.they dont need 70 . just no wind and dry conditions. i had a sitting hen there too but i picked her and her 2 little eggs up and put them in a brooder
     
  4. 1stChicky

    1stChicky Out Of The Brooder

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    Well I've tried turning the heat off since they do give off heat....but if they're wet and its like 17degrees out, they won't freeze???
     
  5. windtryst

    windtryst Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Turn off the heat! Have you ever seen a frozen cardinal or bluejay fall out of the trees??? No, they are birds, and they have feathers ...they will be fine.
     
  6. granny hatchet

    granny hatchet Tastes like chicken Premium Member

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    ok, time for a story. im turning 14 yrs old. its my b-day. im living with my mom amd grandma in ky. we were dirt poor and mom asked me what do you want for your b-day and i said i want that hen! the one im cooking for your day? yes. well, im going to cook it. i said no, you dont understand i want that hen!! she was an awesome pet and a lot of company for me. mom woke me one morn. telling me my beloved pet of 2 yrs. was dead1 we had an awful ice storm that night not normal for where we lived. she was frozen to the ground and we needed a shovel to pry her up. she was coated in an inch of ice. as we were digging i hear aawwwk. shes alive ! couldnt belive it ! i put her under the house to thaw out and she stayed my friend for 3 more yrs.
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    If you go out and feel them, I'm betting the skin itself isn't actually wet. Chickens aren't water resistant like ducks, but their feathers do shed water nicely. Most animals, feathers or fur, if you get down to the skin it's dry and toasty. I think your birds get cooled off and get uncomfortable going in the coop. Have you been outside in the cold in a jacket, and then go inside to a nice toasty house and quickly take your jacket because you're suddenly burning up? Well, your chickens can't take their jacket off, so they go back outside because it's more comfortable to them.

    Your area is where many of the American breeds were developed--RIR, New Hamp, Delaware, Rocks, etc. Those breeds were all bred in
    New England weather long before there was electricity and were developed to thrive in the climate there. Your birds will be fine.
     
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    x2 Next time you go out in the cold with your jacket on and come back in, leave the jacket on for an hour. Even half an hour. You may get an idea of what your chickens are feeling.
     
  9. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    I'll twice that.

    I agree with donrar but wish to add that chickens do have standards or preferred ways to roost. Most of the night time coops I see here have roosts much to low for chickens, or at least for my chickens to ever consider roosting in them. This is not saying that some big butt chickens don't have to struggle or even find it impossible to get on a tall roost, they do. But I am saying that a mixed flock of birds may prefer to roost any were from 2 or 3 feet off the ground all the way up to 30, 40 or even more feet high. It is best to tailor your physical plant to fit your poultry and tailor your poultry to fit the sleeping arrangements that you provide. Also remember that heavy breeds as a rule have more bumble foot and lighter breeds have fewer foot problems.

    Healthy and well fed chickens are tough buggers and even though they sometimes get frost bite on feet or heads they can handle more difficulty and cold than most of us can ever imagine.
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Chickens know more about being chickens than you or I will ever know. If they can get in or out as needed into shelter, then let them decide. They do need dry, but will quickly dry off when they roost up. However, all that drying will really build moisture in the coop, it must be ventilated to let that moisture out.

    I am wondering if your coup is TOO tight if you can bring up the temperature to 70 degrees when it is 17 degrees out? It seems so counter intuitive, but they really need a lot of ventilation.

    Mrs K
     
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