Oh Baby, Its Getting Cold Outside!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Adopted Chickenman, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. Adopted Chickenman

    Adopted Chickenman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2010
    Rogers
    [​IMG] I have a couple of simple questions about chicken behavior. Now that it is getting colder outside I want to make sure my hens are going to stay as warm as possible without any added heat from outside sources. Their coop is draft free except for the windows I leave slightly open for ventilation, the floor is lined several inches thick with pine shavings, and a night light (35 watt bulb) is on from dusk untill 11:30 pm and then again at 4:30 am until 6:00 am. The 10 x 10 run has tarps that can be opened on both the top and sides for rain and wind protection. [​IMG] Now here is the problem, my hens only use their coop to lay their eggs in the nesting boxes. At dusk, they leave the ground in the run for the roosts in the air approx five feet off the ground. They group normally five hens on one roost and six hens on the other. They wedge themselves tightly together to conserve and share body heat (guessing). The questions I have are: Are the chickens smart enough to leave their outside roosts for the more temperate conditions of the coop roosts when the temps gets to cold? Should I remove the outside roosts to help force them inside to the coops roosts? Should I open the tarps on the run for further weather protection in hopes rising heat is captured? At what temp should I replace the night lite with a brooder type light (red heat). And, should I place the chicken in their coop at dusk and lock them in for the night or until I leave for work ar 3:30am? I know these are alot of questions, so if anyone would like to answer any of the questions they feel comfortable this would be well accepted. BTw, if you can't tell by the questions, this is my first winter with chickens and I don't want to loose any due to my incompetance. Thanks for reading and any input in advance. Adopted Chickenman
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2010
  2. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    You should lock the chickens in the coop for a few days, so they "get" that it's home, it's safe in there, it's where they sleep at night, and then you don't have to worry about supplemental heating.

    When I first put my chickens outside full time, I'm dealing with integration issues, so I have grow-out coops with temporary runs inside the main chicken run. But I do lock them in that grow out coop for a few days so they KNOW that's the sleeping quarters. Then I let them out into the temporary run for two weeks to let the older chickens get used to them. After that, I remove the temporary fencing....

    As they grow up, they do some coop shifting, in that they decide - or not - that they want to sleep in the Big Coop. I have several "grow out coops" that are occupied at night by the chickens who grew up/out in them. Some of them have moved to the Big Coop, most have not.

    So I just recommend, for your flock that is all the same age (right?) you just lock them in the coop for about a week. And maybe remove the outside roosts for the winter... not really sure about that, though...

    Hopefully other members will chime in with their recommendations!
     
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Nov 9, 2007
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    Rogers, Arkansas? It is getting a bit nippy here.

    Are the chickens smart enough to leave their outside roosts for the more temperate conditions of the coop roosts when the temps gets to cold? Quite simply, no. Or for fear of offending someone that thinks chickens are smart, let me put it another way. If they are conditioned to sleeping on roosts outside, you'll have a heck of a time convincing them to do it another way.

    Should I remove the outside roosts to help force them inside to the coops roosts? Yes, absolutely remove those outside roosts. No matter how secure a run it cannot possibly be as safe as a well-built coop. Chickens need to be trained to sleep in their coop at night, for their own safety.

    At what temp should I replace the night lite with a brooder type light (red heat). If you do indeed live in Rogers, ARKANSAS, the answer is never. Unless you have some extremely delicate breeds, heat won't be necessary. In fact, it could cause more problems than it seems to solve. Get chickens all used to a warm coop and have the power go out and you'll have chilled birds, ones that are unequipped to deal with colder temps. This can lead to sick chickens.

    And, should I place the chicken in their coop at dusk and lock them in for the night or until I leave for work ar 3:30am? If you remove the outside roosts and then lock the chickens in their coop for a few days, they should catch on to the idea of roosting in the coop. Before I'd let my chickens out at 3:30 AM (prime predator time) I'd make darn sure that my run was as predator-proof as possible.

    Good luck to ya! [​IMG]
     
  4. Adopted Chickenman

    Adopted Chickenman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2010
    Rogers
    [​IMG] Thanks for your input! I guess I forgot to say the chickens ages. Group one (five chickens) are 33 weeks old and group two (six chicks ) are 15 weeks old. They have been brought up together as one flock since the chicks were about seven weeks old, but they do tend to stay in their own groups. Very limited arguments between the two groups except for treat times, then the chicks stay away from my two dominate hens. Oh well, thanks again, Adopted Chickenman (aka) Marty.
     
  5. Adopted Chickenman

    Adopted Chickenman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2010
    Rogers
    Why yes, I do live on the outskirts of Rogers, Arkansas. To be more exact, I live up by Beaver Lake about a mile or two before hwy 12 bridge. Near but not apart of Beaver Shores community. Eventhough I shouldn't say this, mychicken run/coop is pretty much preditor proof. In the beginning, I have live captured several raccoons and set them free at the nearby marina. In the past several months though, no preditors have been seen or heard. I do free range my chickens on my eight acres during the afternoon and luckily nothing has happened to them [​IMG]:fl:fl Where abouts do you reside in NWA? Thnks for your inputs and may all your days be sunnyside up!
     
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:I'm actually in SW Arkansas. North of DeQueen, south of Mena. [​IMG]

    ETA: Even at 15 weeks old, the chickens should do fine with the coming cold.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2010
  7. louloubean

    louloubean Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 19, 2009
    OC, NY
    even here is upstate NY we don't heat our coop.
    it gets COOOOLD here occasionally, and all i do to winterize is close the window flaps, i put in a temporary 'drop ceiling' to make the coop smaller, and when it gets windy i shut the pop door.

    the only thing i heat is their water, to keep the majority of the ice out.

    good luck for your first winter! i am sure you'll do great!
     
  8. Adopted Chickenman

    Adopted Chickenman Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 12, 2010
    Rogers
    Once again, thanks to everyone that commented and helped me with my first chicken winter. I have taken some steps in hope that my girls will retreat to the safety of their coop. If for some reason in the next few days they do not spend the night in the coop, then I will play hardball and place them in the coop manually and lock them in for the night! I know they trust their coop for safety because that is where they lay all their eggs and from what I have been told and read chickens will only lay where they feel safe. Oh well, I will keep my fingers crossed. Will follow up in a couple of days to let you all know the out come. Adopted Chickenman
     
  9. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oxford NY
    Trust me, when it gets to 20 below they'll go inside. Mine generally do.[​IMG]
     

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