On winter days, do you always let the girls out to play?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Black Forest Cake, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. Black Forest Cake

    Black Forest Cake Hatching

    Apr 22, 2011
    I'm just wondering what the consensus is...it's 21 degrees F outside, and DH wanted to let the hens out of their coop. The coop has a trap-door sort of opening from the bottom. I just wonder if it is too cold for them to be outside, and if opening the door will let in too much cold air. We do have a heater for their water, and DH has a 60-watt bulb hanging in the coop. Should I keep the bulb on all day?

    We're 8 months into our fun chicken adventure, and I'll be a lot less ignorant next year! Thank you!!

  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging 7 Years

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Where are you? Unless you're in the Arctic I doubt it's too cold for them yet.
    Let them decide. If it's too cold for them to go out they won't go out. Do you go out if it's too cold? They're the same.
    Down to -10 mine go out every day, at least in the morning and stay out most of the day.

    Just because you're cold, doesn't mean they are. Just because you're not hot, doesn't mean they aren't. If you're not thirsty, doesn't mean they aren't.

    A 60 watt bulb is a waste of time and energy. It may make you feel better but I can't imagine it having any effect unless your coop is tiny, well insulated and with no ventilation.
    The reason I say that is unless your building has incredible insulation, it will probably be the same temp inside as out. I check temps in and out on all my buildings and even if they are full of birds(chickens put out a lot of heat) there's rarely more than a 2 degree difference. They won't notice that.
    Another problem is that if you can raise the temperature, sending birds out into the cold after being toasty at night is very hard on them. They need 24/7 temps to acclimate. Those types of fluctuations don't help your birds.
    Yet another problem trying to keep them warm is a buildup of humidity. That's the source of frostbite.

    Forget the cold and make sure they have a dry place with good ventilation.

    Chickens die from heat and poor ventilation, almost never from cold.

    Last edited: Dec 9, 2011
  3. krcote

    krcote Songster

    May 21, 2008
    Concord, NH
    Mine always have the option of going out. Most breeds are built for cold and will do just fine. The trap door will actually keep much of the warm air in due to basic science, so open away! There is much debate about heating a coop with lights and such or not. The trend seems to be the folks with truly frigid climates do not heat and the folks with milder climates think they need to heat [​IMG] It gets very cold up here in NH and we have never heated. Never lost a bird or had any frostbite. If you are asking about the light in your coop for increased laying purposes, that is a whole different topic that you should do research on before making a decision. Good luck!
  4. Black Forest Cake

    Black Forest Cake Hatching

    Apr 22, 2011
    Okay, thank you!!

  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I always give mine the option. Here is what mine chose to do when the temperature was 4 degrees F.

  6. RaZ

    RaZ Crowing Premium Member 7 Years

    Apr 20, 2011
    Caseville, MI
    Quote:We just had this discussion on the Michigan thread. Heat and lights aren't necessary except for the human's peace of mind seemed to be the consensus. IMO it is often newbies that want the heat and lights. I was guilty of this. I just entered the "no heat/no light" group and still got 5 eggs from 6 hens today. They have been outside all day in 32 degrees and it's snowing. They have shelter available and choose to roam in the open or under the tent carport.
  7. Rosaleen

    Rosaleen Songster

    May 18, 2011
    Danville, Vermont
    At 7am they can go out to their run or stay in. They usually bolt out of the coop as soon as they can and come into the coop to lay their eggs. When I am home I will let them out of the run although they don't venture too far if there's a lot of snow. During our last snow storm I noticed the girls stayed right on the path I had shoveled. So I took an old ladder that was hanging on the back of the barn and put it horizontally with one end up on an old saw horse over the snow and the girls seemed to like it...just gives them a little more freedom outsidentheir coop. Of course I'll have to figure out a way to keep it above the snow over the next few months since we do get a lot of snow.

  8. JodyJo

    JodyJo Songster

    Sep 27, 2010
    -29* here the other night...NO heat in the coop...no light either (let nature takes it course with the egg laying, giving my girls a break through the winter)

    I thought about heat also, my 2nd year...but mine are doing great in this freezing weather...they go out when its still -0* and stay out all day....even in the wind!

    Your hubby is right...let them out!



    Here are 2 of my girls...it may be cold out...but they still go out!
  9. AlienChick

    AlienChick Songster

    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY
    Yeah, mine puff up a little to keep themselves warm at times.

    If they don't want to be cold, they'll hang out inside the coop.

    I have a little Serama (they do not normally tolerate temps below 40), who happily hangs out inside the coop when the temps get down in the 20's.
    He comes out periodically to run around and forage, then waddles back into the coop.


  10. Sooner

    Sooner My kids Mom!

    Mar 22, 2009
    My coop door is never closed, they come & go as they choose.

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