Only two chickens, too cold?


7 Years
Oct 22, 2015
Walla Walla WA
Right now I only have two chickens. Unfortunately one passed away this last summer. The inside of their coop is very small, it's one of those store-bought put it together yourself cheapie things. Don't worry, next year I am going to build a nice big one. But anyway, I don't have any electricity run into the coop so no heat etc. With three chickens I felt they could keep themselves warm but now there's only two and they are doing their first big malt. It is going to get down in the teens the next few nights. They have 6 inches of pine shavings in there but are they going to be warm enough? Should I bring them into the house? How cold is too cold?
There are lots of people here that keep their chickens with no supplemental heat, myself being one of them. The temps in our area only ever get in the low 20's ever at night but many get well below zero into negative numbers! Think of a roost like long board with chickens lined up in a row. No matter how long that row is there's always a chicken on each end with no one snuggled up next to her! So your two chickens are the ones on the end! Just trying to ease your mind. Make sure there's ventilation but no draft. They should be fine together!
OK, thanks. When I first put in the pine shavings I guess it confuse them and they wouldn't go up into the coop. So I had to crawl in there at night and stuff them in there and block the doorway. But after two nights of that they figured it out and go up there freely now. I think the pine shavings are warmer than the wood pellets I was using.
I guess it's kind of confusing when everybody you talk to seems to have heat and lights in their coop. At least everybody I know. I just want them to be healthy and happy. And make sure I'm not doing anything to hurt them. Thank you for reassuring me.
No problem. I went through the whole dilemma when I started! Chickens are really built for the outdoors and their feathers provide an amazing amount of warmth. I took my ques from the people that live in Montana and Wyoming...I don't think ANY of them use heat or lights in their coops! Further, if your chickens are used to heat and suddenly don't have it because of a power outage then it could be really detrimental to them! They won't have naturally adapted to the weather as it gradually gets colder.
Anyway, this is my 2 cents and what I have learned here from others on BYC.

Here is an excellent article to read:
I live in Florida where it doesn't really get cold in comparison to a lot of places. However through my reading on here I would not use heat lights etc for the sheer fear of it causing a fire. It actually has been cold for us the past few days and I have worried about my younger chicks, so I picked them up yesterday while it was cold to and they felt like little heaters. So then I knew that they were plenty warm enough. My husband is always questioning everything I do with the chickens so I made him pick up one and he was very surprised how warm its little body was and they are only about 4 weeks old.
I totally understand why you're concerned. Chickens seem to molt at most inopportune time when the temps drop to freezing. Some of my chickens literally look like plucked chickens ready for soup with bare skin, and of course they'd be in danger if there's no feather covering them. Regardless of how resilient they could be, I don't like to risk my pet chickens. I've used the below heating panel (I bought mine for $38) for the past two winters next to the chicken roost to take the edge off on very cold nights, and after I started using one, my girls never got frostbite. Yes you can certainly take a passive approach as many do fine here on BYC, but I don't like my girls suffering especially whey they're molting. Other than that, chickens are fine fully feathered down to negative 20 F so you just need to concentrate on getting rid of humidity through ventilation to reduce the chance of frostbite.
They'll be fine for heat in a small coop. A bigger worry would be ventilation -- you have to open up a lot of space in those little coops for the air to move around. Ours is missing the front of the poop tray and half of the nest box, and the roof is permanently propped open. There's barely a breeze in there even when the wind is blowing stuff over outside, though the coop is 'behind' a water barrel and probably gets a lot of the wind diverted around it. It smells fine in there though -- maybe a little musty when too many droppings build up in the leaves, but no sharp ammonia smell.

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