Newbie needs help please!!!


8 Years
Mar 25, 2011
Hagerstown, MD
I am a newbie. I have an eclectic group of 28 chickies. I have some light & buff brahma's, BO, PBR, RIR, NHR, EE, silkies, sulkies, and polish, and a few unknown's! They r fully feathered and r 7, 8, & 9 weeks old. We finished the coop and run Sunday morning and put the girlies out there. We have them on a schedule where we let them out around 8am and r trying to get them to go back in around 8pm. Their outside run is enclosed (with poultry netting, nothing that would keep rain out) and it's 24x14 and the coop is 17x8.

So, all that being said. The temps here in western MD have been in the 80's & 90's with high humity. The girlies weren't really introduced to really high heat and humidity while they were in the basement in their brooder. I would open the garage door to let them get fresh air, but our basement is air conditioned also. Now that they r out, they r panting. I have ice in their water and a small fan in their coop.

My ?'s is: could I put a water mister out in a part of their run that they could use if they wanted to to cool off???

My next ? is: After I let the girlies out, I have to go to town and will prob b gone for 5-6 hours. We r supposed to get thunderstorms. No tornados ro hail, just heavy rain. Will they know to go back in the coop? Or since I know it is going to rain should I just leave them in the coop until I get home in the afternoon?

Please help! Any suggestions or opinions r greatly appreciated!!!
I'm not an expert by far, but I would say the mister is a very good idea. You can also give them some frozen fruits or veggies to pick at, and they will love watermelon, any melon really, or cucumber skins, etc... will help to cool them. I would think they will know to go inside in case of rain, if the run isn't covered, that is. If so, they may stay out anyway. They should actually go to bed once darkness falls anyway.
They understood bedtime when they were in the brooder. I would go in the basement, give them a treat while I checked the food and water and then I would close the garage door and turn their soft light on and tell them good night.

Ever since we have moved out to the coop and run we have to chase them back in at night. The did go in the coop today when the run didn't have any shade for them. I guess if they stay out and get wet I will just have to blow dry them when I get home!
Will it hurt the chickens if they don't go inside the coop and get wet from a thunderstorm?? I have to leave the house for a few hours today and am worried about them not being smart enough to go in the coop if it starts raining!
Do they already go in or do you have to put them up?

Some chickens just like the rain and will stay out in it. With the skys getting darker during a storm, they MIGHT go back inside, but that still may depend on if they id by themselves already. I have younger birds and older birds, so the youngsters usually learn to go in from the older ones. Doesn't always happen though if like I said, you have some that don't mind the rain. The thunder might scare them enough to chase them in though. Geez I don't have a good answer for you. I have some pretty dingy chickens that aren't chicken of anything and others that know to get inside.

Your misting idea is a good one. The frozen fruits and veggies that were mentioned are also good ideas. I also freeze water in big ice cream tubs and milk jugs. They'll go lay up against them when it gets hot. Also maybe a couple of shallow pans of water, so they can cool off their feet and legs.
Usually chicks get locked into the coop for a week or two, when they first go out. That helps teach them that the coop is home. If you are having to chase them in at dark; try some treats like scratch. Keep it in a can and rattle it at bedtime. They will eventually follow the sound in. You can also use long sticks in your hands to extend your reach and/or a net.
Rain won't hurt them, just make sure they have a dry draft free place to dry off. The thunder and lightening might scare them. Might be better to keep them in the coop till you get home.
The mister is a good idea, but they may act afraid of it at first. The frozen food is also a great suggestion. Some people put shallow pans of cool water in the yard so they can stand/walk in it to cool off.

Mine are 10 weeks old now and they do not like to stay out in the rain!
They run for cover when it starts raining. A couple of my older girls don't mind the rain if it is not raining very hard. If it is very windy, they will also go in the coop. I guess they don't like to get blown around.
My BO did not learn to get out of the rain until he was a year old. My other two roos would not leave him so they all just stood in the rain looking miserable.
I put the younger ones in the brooder/coop before a storm.
Do they have any shade in their run? I have a sprinkler I put on for awhile in the afternoons as it has been in the 90's here. The birds go under the sprinkler but they have shade too and I wet down the ground in the shaded area too. Also you can put a shallow storage box, kiddie pool or something similar out filled with water. I have pans and the birds like to wade in them.

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As far as the rain goes-I worried about the same thing. I happened to be watching them through the window when there was a sudden downpour. It was their first experience with rain-they all huddled up in the corner of the run-frozen in the pouring rain. I ran outside to try to shoo them up the ramp, into the coop-they then decided as a group to take cover under the coop. The next day-another downpour and it only took them about 15 seconds to get it together and run for cover-I was very proud!!!

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