Talk to me about the cold...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by aprilfritts, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. aprilfritts

    aprilfritts Hatching

    Apr 27, 2011
    New chicken mama here and our little flock of 6 bantam ladies are approaching their first winter. IT'S COLD OUT THERE! My girls are about 8 months old at this point. So, their "luxury condo" is insulated, I'm giving them warm water a couple of times a day and plenty of corn to fatten them up. I have both a felt backed table cloth and an outdoor rug covering the house part of their home (they have a run/play yard that is not covered). No matter what warm food I put out there, they have had no interest in it so far. I've tried a hot mash of their pellets, oatmeal (with milk and with water), various leftovers (mac and cheese, chunky soup) and even some warmed up yogurt (cause they love yogurt). They don't show a lick of interest. AND laugh all you want, but I am seriously considering making them little fleece capes that tie on... I saw on another site that someone had knitting their girls some ponchos. Any experience with something like that? I hate clothes on animals, but I also hate to see them so cold. Other warming ideas? We have no electricity out there for light. Thaks!

  2. cgmccary

    cgmccary Songster

    Sep 14, 2007
    NE Alabama
    I don't know where you are located but this morning here, it was 25 F. The waterers were frozen. I have fourteen 7-week olds out in the barn /coop which is open on two ends (North-South) completely, so no heat or insulation, their water was frozen solid. They just are feathered out & were fine. Unless you are below 0 F or your birds have single combs, your birds should be fine. It is best to make sure they have good ventilation in the winter. Heat and humidity or more dangerous to a chicken than cold.
  3. Tambo26

    Tambo26 Songster

    Mar 28, 2011
    Orrington, MAINE
    8 degrees here in Maine when I woke up this morning. 20 degrees in my girls insulated coop. I totally understand where you're coming from; it's COLD and I'm worried that they are cold!! My girls could care LESS! They are pushing each other out of the way to get out of the coop in the morning! They don't go back into the coop during the day unless it's to lay an egg. They have built up so much down that they are just fine. When I pick them up to cuddle their belly down keeps my hands warm. No doubt their bodies are toasty warm! I have my outdoor run completely covered with clear plastic (with high ventillation) and there is a clear roof on top so they get all of the sun with none of the bitter wind. I feel that their coop stays warmer for it too. As far as the warm food, I do the same thing. I would want warm food, right? Really they dont seem to care. This morning they passed up the warm peas and corn to scratch around the cold ground for whatever treasures they could find. I can't say "don't worry" 'cause I still do. I just know how they act and watch for changes in their behavior. Then I'll worry. I just keep thinking... next winter will be so much less stressful because I'll know what to expect! And hopefully less worrying! [​IMG]
  4. ThinkingChickens

    ThinkingChickens Songster

    Feb 18, 2011
    Just make sure to get those waterers unfrozen quick. My girl pecked at the ice until her poor beak bled. Now I'm removing the water until I go out in the morning so there's not that little 20-30 minute morning overlap where they are out and I'm not. Eek.
  5. kuntrygirl

    kuntrygirl Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

    Feb 20, 2008
    Opelousas, Louisiana
    I have open air coops and my girls are ok at night with temps as low as 32.

  6. Rosaleen

    Rosaleen Songster

    May 18, 2011
    Danville, Vermont
    My hens bolt out to the run as soon as the window is opened. I use rubber bowls for water and pop out the ice and put warm water in as needed. I have several eight week old bantam Cochins in my grow out pen. Over the past few weeks I reduced the wattage of the light bulb over the place they rest (fleecy fabric lined...easily washed and reused...helps keep their tootsies warmer). Yesterday I turned off their light for good....frigid night and when I checked on them this morning they were fine.
  7. hallerlake

    hallerlake Songster

    May 30, 2010
    My EE insisted on spending a night out in single digits last winter. She came through fine. So long as they're dry and out of the wind, their feathers insulate them. Unfrozen water is the important thing. I have a thermostatically controlled dog bowl to keep their water from freezing.
  8. JodyJo

    JodyJo Songster

    Sep 27, 2010
    my I wish I had the temps you guys all describe...we have already gotten to -29* here in Colorado...I have NO heat in my coop, NO capes or ponchos either!

    Mine seem to love the cold....they are out in the snow, hopping along hay bales, even when we get a blast of cold wind, it doesn't faze them...

    Your girls will do better if you leave the clothes and heat off them...they will build up a tolerance and be able to withstand the cold better if they aren't
    coddled too much.



    2 of my girls in the subzero temps....they are covered in a down coat remember!

    **they must have water though...I use a heated dog water bowl...water doesn't even freeze at the -29*
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  9. swampcat

    swampcat Songster

    Apr 18, 2011
    Brooklyn, CT
    I was freaking out last night, too. It got down to 12 outside and 17 in the coop. I lubed up the leghorn's ridiculous combs (why did I get floppy comb birds?) and was happy to see everyone looking good and happy to fly the coop when I opened the door. [​IMG]

    There is a great thread here:

  10. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    In cold weather, a chicken fluffs up her feathers and lets the down feathers close to her body trap her own heat. I don't think fleece is as good an insulator as down feathers, and you certainly wouldn't want to interfere with the chicken's own mechanism for keeping herself warm by putting clothes on her that don't do as good a job as her own feathers.

    We have mostly Serama crossbreed bantams, and Seramas are known for being sensitive to cold. Last winter we had a whole week of below freezing weather, with daytime temps in the 20's. I was worried, but I watched the flock carefully during the daytime, and they didn't seem to mind the cold one little bit. They went about their chicken business and acted just the same way that they normally do.

    At night time, I do provide a little supplemental heat for them in their coop whenever it drops down to freezing, using a oil filled radiator. And I do wrap the bottom two feet of their run with plastic, to act as a windblock. It also helps stop rain from blowing in the sides of the run, too.

    p.s. Do be careful about offering "hot" foods because of the potential for burning the crop. My rule of thumb is that I don't offer anything to our birds that feels too hot to the inside of my own wrist.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011

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