Should I force my chickens outside to eat?

ThereseC

In the Brooder
Nov 16, 2020
22
33
44
Maryaland
My chickens tend to stay inside the coop more than outside. Should I put them outside and close the coop door so they are forced to stay outside for a while to eat and drink? They are well protected in the outside run (pic attached and excuse the mess as I am still making modifications ;)). If I force them to hang out outside then how long should I do it for? I have food and water both inside and outside but the outside water tank is much smaller so it runs out or gets dirty faster than I can keep up. The outside food and water is under the coop somewhat protected. I'm not sure if the set up I have is keeping them inside. I also have a red heat lamp in the coop pretty much running all day and night. Maybe that an issue? The inside of my coop is on the smaller side (only have 5 hens) at 6ft X 4ft x 3ft and they are roughly 16 weeks old. Thanks for the help!

I'm in Maryland so the temperature one day in the winter can be in the 20s then the next day it's in the 40s.
IMG_4224.jpeg
 

britinpa

Songster
Jun 22, 2020
273
371
161
Central Pennsylvania
The heat lamp is probably what's drawing them more to being inside the coop. I deliberated for a while about whether to use a heat source in our coop this year (first year chicken keepers). Our coop is 6 x 4. As yet I haven't put any heat in - we've had 25 degrees a couple of nights this week and they have done fine - you just have to make sure the coop is well ventilated to avoid moisture build up, which can cause frostbite. I think the downside to having it too warm in a coop, is that they might molt, and then will be too cold for them when going outside. My chickens are spending quite a bit of time outside at the moment.
 

ThereseC

In the Brooder
Nov 16, 2020
22
33
44
Maryaland
The heat lamp is probably what's drawing them more to being inside the coop. I deliberated for a while about whether to use a heat source in our coop this year (first year chicken keepers). Our coop is 6 x 4. As yet I haven't put any heat in - we've had 25 degrees a couple of nights this week and they have done fine - you just have to make sure the coop is well ventilated to avoid moisture build up, which can cause frostbite. I think the downside to having it too warm in a coop, is that they might molt, and then will be too cold for them when going outside. My chickens are spending quite a bit of time outside at the moment.
That is helpful, thanks!
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,533
26,923
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
You need to be weaning them off the heat at that age.

Healthy, fully-feathered chickens are fine without supplemental heat for well down into or below single-digit temperatures as long as they are dry and have good ventilation.

IMO, it's better to keep food and water outside the coop, in part to encourage them to be active and move around between coop and run. :)
 

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