Really? Will they be ok if it gets down to 5 degrees tonight?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by rachelwillow, Dec 7, 2013.

  1. rachelwillow

    rachelwillow Out Of The Brooder

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    Ok, I keep reading all these old threads and it seems that my chickens will be ok in this unusually cold weather, but I need some reassurance please! It's not usually colder than 20F here in the winter, and even then that's probably a handful of times each winter. This past week it's been in the teens at night with a daytime high of 30-32F. We had 6 inches of snow yesterday afternoon (also very unusual) and tonight it's supposed to dip to 5, with highs in the 20s for the next several days. Yikes! The snow isn't going to melt like it usually does either. My chickens have barely moved today, which worries me even more since they haven't been eating like usual. I've been tossing handfuls of regular feed, scratch, and sunflower seeds at them all day and they aren't very interested! They are freaked about the snow, and two have stayed the coop most of the day (interestingly enough it's the two that are at the end of a molt). The coop is uninsulated but draft-free with ventilation. I put a temp sensor in there (with the info in the house) and last night it was about 4 degrees warmer in the coop than outside. Still! Will they be ok? Or should I put some hot water bottles in there? Or what else? I loaned my heat lamp to someone with chicks and never got it back so no light available (though I read that they aren't a good idea anyway). I just spread straw all over the run (learned from another thread) and they ventured out for a few minutes, felt better about moving around in the snow, but then headed back inside. Is there anything more I should do? I also tossed a bunch of scratch and feed in the coop (usually there is no food in there) but I'm afraid to put water in there because I think it will either spill or make it to humid in the coop. Am I doing it right? should I just move them to the garage for the week? Thank you!!
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Mine are in their coop, with good ventilation, and we are expecting close to -20. Unless you have some very old chickens, 3+ years, they will do fine.

    Cold temps need wind protection, dry, and feed. They do not need heat, they make their own.

    Mrs K
     
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  3. rachelwillow

    rachelwillow Out Of The Brooder

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    Wow -20! That is COLD. Mine are less than a year old, they will be one in February. So they will be ok. The humidity in the coop last night was about 79%, is that too damp? I have a couple of windows I could open but they were built to give good airflow in our super hot summers, so may add a draft if I open them.
     
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    It's likely that almost 1/3 of the nation will have lows around zero or even lower tonight and throughout the next week or so. That will include us as well. Shrug. It's cold. Too darn cold, for sure. But, that said? This equates to 100's of 1000's of chickens that will just get through it.

    The blue jays, the eagles, the sparrows and all the other wild birds are in the same boat. They'll all survive as well. They'll just hunker down in a spruce or pine tree somewhere and await the dawn. Not that the day time temps this next week or so are anything to get excited about.
     
  5. rachelwillow

    rachelwillow Out Of The Brooder

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    OK thanks! I feel much better now.
     
  6. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    79% is a little high - and high moisture levels are more likely to lead to frostbite than low temps. The best way to decrease humidity without causing drafts is to allow some ventilation up near the roof along the wall away from the perches. Poop boards can really help reduce moisture too, as it is easy to clean away poop every day or so, keeping the floor cleaner and dryer.

    We also get subzero temps with no ill effects. Your birds should be fine.
     
  7. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    They humidity is high, but I can't see those birds getting frostbite when the weather never gets below 20 above zero. What would worry me is ammonia build-up. OP, is your coop very air-tight? If so, it might seem crazy, but you might need to cut some holes in your coop up near the ceiling for ventilation. Humidity that high makes me think the coop isn't vented very well, and more air movement is better in terms of chicken health.

    We also get temps well below zero every winter. -10 is pretty normal, -20 happens a few times each year. Our birds do fine in an unheated coop with very large windows. The most we ever do is hang a heat lamp over the waterer when it starts to freeze too fast--but that's well away from the perches, and doesn't heat the coop. Just makes sure that there's always at least one side of the drinker that's unfrozen.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2013
  8. rachelwillow

    rachelwillow Out Of The Brooder

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    It's the Purina Mills coop, with vents between the top of the wall and the roof. The sensor I put in there is on the floor (just laid it in the corner the other day) so I'm wondering if there is less moisture up high. I've recently changed out the wood shavings so it seems pretty dry in there, and the humidity didn't change all day yesterday when the chickens we not in there, so I don't know. I could certainly crack a window, we cut two rectangular large vents this summer because it was so stinking hot in there at night, we wanted major air flow. If I open them all the way it may cause a draft (they are at roost height) but maybe I could crack them?

    It is 5 degrees in the coop right now, at 6am. Zero outside and this has got to be a record for around here, it's nutty cold.

    I don't have water in the coop, is that ok? I know some people do and some don't...my birds generally are not in the coop at all during the day, they only go in to roost then come straight out when the door opens at daylight. Except for yesterday, when they were freaking out about the snow and wouldn't come out for half the day, but then I gave them a dish of water.
     
  9. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Your sensor may not be working right if it did not change at all. I would try it up just above floor level, maybe a foot above the bedding, as the bedding may be a little moist but the air above drier. You could also try a different sensor.

    It was exactly 0 degrees here this am - and will get colder as the winter goes on.
     
  10. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They can hunker down in the coop but need access to food and water at all times and the will be ok..
     

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