REALLY cold weather

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kathie816, Jan 3, 2014.

  1. Kathie816

    Kathie816 In the Brooder

    May 21, 2013
    We are expecting temps as low as -15 to -20 next week. How cold hardy are cold hardy chickens? Two Buff Orps and a Rhode Island Red share a tractor coop. My chicken dealer (I'm new) said they don't need any heat source during the winter, but seriously??

  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    First of all, [​IMG] Now, to answer your question:

    Seriously. They don't. They need a well-ventilated, draft free, dry place to be. Don't seal your coop off too tightly, because you don't want moisture to build up in the coop. That's what will give you problems with frostbite, and possibly respiratory problems. Providing supplemental heat can cause more harm than good. For one thing, if they go outside into the cold and come back into a warm coop, they will be uncomfortable if they've already been exposed to cold weather and are acclimated to it. Try this - put on all of your outside clothes. Coat, hat, boots, snow pants, gloves and scarf. Go out into the cold. Stay out there for 15 minutes or longer. Go back in the house. Leave your gear on. How comfortable are you? You get to remove your extra layers. Your chickens don't. Another thing to think about - by heating the coop, your chickens will not grow the feathers they need to stay warm because their bodies won't have to. So, you have a nice, toasty warm coop and the electricity goes off or your bulb burns out in the middle of one of those sub-zero nights. Where will your chickens be when this happens? They will be cold, they will not be accustomed to it, and they could die. At the very least, they will be miserable. Keep them fed and watered, and they will be fine.

    BTW, we're expecting HIGH temps of -17 on Monday. Our governor has already mandated that all schools in the state be closed due to the dangerous windchills. I have 17 chickens in an 8x16' coop, 8' high. They do not have supplemental heat. I have a window tilted open about 2" at the top to help with ventilation. So far, they are all fine.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2014

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by