New Serama owner, up north- Too Cold?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Bocktobery 10, Oct 30, 2016.

  1. Bocktobery 10

    Bocktobery 10 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2010
    I am currently a happy serama mamma of 8 four month old seramas. I am new to this breed. I admit that I foolishly didn't research as thoroughly as I usually do before making any animal purchase. I assumed that seramas would be exactly the same as regular chickens which I've had for the past 6 years. Since they hatched, I have been reading about them more and I discovered that seramas do not do well in the cold weather. Unlucky for me, I live up north east of USA. While the temperatures don't usually stay in negative digits, at night at some times of the year it is possible. I was wondering if anyone here has any experience with this and if so, can they help guide me for what I'd need to protect my tiny chickens?

    I am wondering it is true that they can die in temperatures under 40 degrees F? Is there some sort of small safe heater I can purchase that will keep them from freezing? Do I have to bring them inside the house for the winter, and if so, how much space will it take? Also, two of them are roosters- how do you keep them from not waking you up at 4 am when they crow in the house?!

    I keep mine in an 8 by 8 by 8 foot 'room' of my coop with insulated walls- however not all of the coop is insulated- I am almost certain that the windows are possibly drafty. I'd like to keep them outside all seasons if that is possible. Are there such things as barn heaters or coop heaters? I really do not want to use heat lamps or anything where a fire could happen. Are those chicken warming mats suitable? Would that keep them warm enough in the minus digits? Are they a fire hazard at all?

    By the way they share the coop with regular sized chickens, but are in a separate 'room' in the coop, so if I put heat in there, the rest of my standard sized flock will get some heat too... is this bad?

    As you just read, I'm loaded with questions and concern of their care... I'm just hoping someone has some experiences with this they can share. Many thanks in advance for any replies.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    I haven't owned them, but I have had silkie and frizzles and the same stuff is said about them. Most chickens are pretty cold hardy. I'm assuming that the size of seremas is the reason for everyone saying they aren't hardy, but small outside birds go through winter fine, so size can't be the only reason.

    I would personally see how it goes. They do sell wall heater plates that can be put on the walls next to the roosts, or just mounted to the walls, I haven't used them though. Some people use a heat lamp but they can be fire hazards when used with adults birds.

    I would think a good insulated but well ventilated coop should be enough, but I too am curious to hear what those that have owned them has found out. My silkies and frizzles have always gone through our harsh winters fine without any extra heat.

    Adding extra heat to chickens leaves you in a position where the birds don't properly acclimate and they can have troubles especially if the heat goes away. I prefer to let my birds get used to the outside conditions so it doesn't bother them, and they can handle extremely cold spells okay.

    Hopefully someone experienced with them can help out.
     
  3. Bocktobery 10

    Bocktobery 10 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2010
    Thanks so much for your reply.

    I feel the same way. Where I'm at, we are very prone to loose power, and sometimes for days (although usually not more than two days time). I may try the heat panel, but I'm so afraid since I don't know much about heating a coop safely that I will miss something and end up accidentally burning down my coop and kill my flock. I also don't want to risk trying the cold on my seramas and finding one dead or severely hurt by the cold in the morning. I may just aim for sufficient heat to keep the edge off of them, but I'm not sure how to do that either. I just don't' have any experience with something like this. I could bring them inside but the only option where I have room is not the safest or best c conditions for them there too.

    I'm amazed to hear that your silkies and frizzles put up with harsh winters.. glad to hear it too. It gives me hope. I have one silkie serama too, so its her I'm extra concerned about.

    Thanks again!
     
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    What is your coldest weather? We get spells of -20 with -40 wind chills. On those days my bantam stay inside. They get some warm oatmeal, some scratch to get them moving and a bit of hay to scratch through. At night they sit close on the roosts and share body heat, and on sunny days they sit in the sunshine. I've not seen my little frizzles even look cold.

    How many birds do you have? I honestly can't see a chicken freezing to death unless the conditions are more extreme than ours. Feathers are great insulation. Feeding some higher fat grains like corn, bird seed, and sunflower seeds can help birds have enough energy to get through the nights as well as produce some internal heat from digestion.
     
  5. Bocktobery 10

    Bocktobery 10 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for the response, and I apologize for not getting back to you until just now.

    I have 7 Seramas with one Creme Legbar hen (pullet who was raised with them) Our coldest weather can be somewhere around minus 15 degrees F, tops, but usually it does not last that long if we have that at all... Most winters here lately have been very mild. But generally on the coldest days it stays around 20 degrees F.

    I've been bringing them in at night when the weather gets below 34 degrees F... just before freezing. My coop, because of the other birds (who are in separate sections), is usually 5 degrees higher than what it is outside.. I think too that I don't have too many drafts, but I do have some spaces high up in the coop where those drafts can come in. Oddly, my birds (not the seramas) like to perch up there near where they'd be getting a draft! ??? So far, no troubles with that. In fact, I was very surprised when one of my roosters came through last winter without any frostbite on his comb. Don't know how that happened- and he is one with the larger sized combs.

    I have one silike serama, a female... she often sits alone. I am worried about her the most.. The other seem to have handled the cooler fall nights so far. Right now, I am worrying more because our winter weather is set to come in this week. I have lots of straw on the floor, and the coop is raised off the ground. As I said before, the walls are insulated, but I have several windows that the cool air seems to flow in from.

    Just being a new 'serama mamma" has me worried that what I don't know could end up hurting them. I do not want them to suffer if the cold temps are just going to be too much for them to handle.
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    Those temperatures shouldn't be too severe for them. I would leave them in the coop so they acclimate to the falling temperatures. By bringing them inside where it's warmer you aren't allowing them to get used to the lower temperatures. You will have to pick one as going back and forth between warm and cold will cause more troubles and stress. Some people like to provide extra heat, but in my opinion that messes with acclamation.

    It's similar with people. My parents stay in their house all winter with the temperatures about 78. We keep our house about 62-66. My husband also works outside all day and I go out multiple times during the day. We are acclimated and can handle colder temperatures, my parents complain about how cold it is and they get sick more often. So it is similar with chickens.

    We recently had a average temperature drop of 30 degrees. Some of my chickens look cold, they will huddle for about a week than they will be used to the new normal temperatures, others aren't bothered by it. Every drop they will acclimate to, until next spring when these cold temperatures will become warm temperatures. In a few months 30 degrees will be a balmy day around here.

    So I would pick one way to go, heat or no heat and stick with it. I personally think your birds will be fine and much happier outside in their coop.

    Chickens always seek out the highest roost, so if it's in a draft area you might have to lower it or move where it is. Some air movement is good, but too much isn't. Now is the time to change things if necessary.
     

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