Night Owls?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by worrywart, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. worrywart

    worrywart New Egg

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    Sep 21, 2013
    Swall meadows, CA
    I recently began using lighting to keep egg production high during the cold winter months. I live at 7,000 feet in the eastern Sierra so it's a dry, cold winter environment with lots of sun, speckled with some intense winter snowstorm that can leave anywhere between 6-36" at a time. Because we can have brutal winter storms occasionally I talked my husband into getting a coop cam, so I don't have to trek outside to check them in a blizzard. Upon installing the cam, I was shocked to find that the birds upon waking at 3:30 am go right outside. I have an aviary type run that is enclosed on all sides (underneath included) and predator proof so I have left their pop door as a clear car mat with some slits cut in it to block the drafts but allows them free access at all times to the outdoors.

    Last night at 3:30 when the light came on they once again jumped up and ventured outside as our first winter system blew in and I was worried they were going to get cold in the wind. I do have wind breaks in the run on the North and West sides but still seems a little odd to me. So my concern is that tonight the temps are supposed to drop a bit more and be about 23 or so, and I'm unsure if the chickens stay inside the coop once it's cold enough or do I need to make a quick pop door to keep them inside until daybreak?

    Here is a pic of their coop before it was sided, you can see the pop door with the ramp leading out of it. THe door faces east and the prevailing winds are from the N/NW. I use a soft while ecobulb (40W) equivalent that puts out 300 lumens in about the 3,000 K range)

    Originally I had a 70 W incandescent and I thought it was too bright which is why the birds were going outside in the middle of the night. So I have replaced it with the more subtle light. I do not heat the coop and it's only slightly insulated. (I intalled some reflective type insulation on the roof) Coop dimensions are 3ft x 6ft, By 3-4 feet tall, their perch is 18" off the floor)
    Run 8 x8. I have 5 cold hardy birds
    [​IMG]
    Thanks....told you I was a worrywart!
    :)
     
  2. Hey there worry, is your camera able to record atnogut without the lights? Seems to me it would be valuable to know if the lights (of whatever intensity) are causing this. Is it possible to leave the night time ligts off for a while, yetstill get the recordings?

    My birds show no interest in leaving the coop until first light.
     
  3. worrywart

    worrywart New Egg

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    Sep 21, 2013
    Swall meadows, CA
    Yep the camera has infrared so I can see them at night. I may turn the timer off tonight just to see what happens without the light coming on. It's supposed to warm up after tonight a bit so I'll have some time to make a door if needed?
    Thanks!
     
  4. A little warmer would be nice! Even at 2600 over here on the west side of the mountains this front has been a cold one. Had to startthinking about firewood for the first time since March.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I think that if they have free access to be either inside or outside...they'll go where they are most comfortable.
    I wouldn't worry about it...tho it's interesting to watch their behaviors isn't it? Wish I could afford coop cams, what fun!
     
  6. worrywart

    worrywart New Egg

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    Sep 21, 2013
    Swall meadows, CA
  7. creepygothnursi

    creepygothnursi Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 27, 2013
    Try and see what happens without the light coming on. If that doesn't help, you may have to build a pop door. Mine absolutely wouldn't go into the coop and stay there unless you locked them in it- nothing in there had scared them, no mites or lice, they just decided the run was the happenin' spot, which was a problem in bad weather. Chickens are not the brightest of God's creatures and if there's somewhere particular you want them to be for a certain amount of time, oftentimes you have to physically prevent them from leaving it/wandering off/whatever else they get in their little bird brains.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  8. worrywart

    worrywart New Egg

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    Sep 21, 2013
    Swall meadows, CA
    I turned the light off last night. The girls slept like a rock (barred rock) until 6:45 am. I set my alarm to check on them every hour from 3:30 am on.

    I turned the light timer back a bit so it will go on at 4:30 tomorrow am instead of 3:30. It is still cold but at least not windy, I may consider a pop door for when we hit true winter and temps drop into single digits and the wind is howling, mostly so I sleep better :)

    I would really like to keep production up for the winter because I only have 5 ladies so every egg is a gift! I have read that supplemental light is the way to achieve this but worry about frostbite in the dead of winter if they are sitting outside for 3-4 hours in the dark and cold!
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Your chickens are not going to injure themselves if shelter is available. Let them come and go as they please. If they get too wind-blown, they'll go back inside. Animals of different species have survived many, many years without humans telling them to seek shelter or confining them. Leave them to their own devices and get some sleep! [​IMG]
     

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