This isn't the magnificent seven but the confounding six.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BarneyNCyndi, Dec 30, 2014.

  1. BarneyNCyndi

    BarneyNCyndi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is getting cold here below freezing but our girls prefer to roost in the Run? Our run is nice and covered with clear & tinted roofing! We even put a nice heat lamp to warm the coop to keep near 50degrees when it is freezing outside. Of course we added a thermometer to monitor the temp otherwise, I would be awake worrying. [​IMG]
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    Why won't they go inside? We tried pushing them up the run and that was just a comedy for any one who saw it. So for the past two nights we have been having the chicken pass. I climb into the run then pass a chicken to husband and he puts her to bed in the coop. Frankly, I think they are getting a big laugh at our expense.

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    Any insights would be appreciated.
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    My first thought is the heat lamp makes it too warm. Going from colder outside to that warm inside, plus the body heat of all the birds together in that small space, I'll bet they're uncomfortable. I'd ditch the heat lamp altogether.

    Were they sleeping in the coop before?
     
  3. BarneyNCyndi

    BarneyNCyndi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, with the light on. It is 47.7F inside and it is 26.6F outside. Ok, this is a newbie so go ahead and laugh but can they see in the dark to climb up and roost in the coop while it is dark.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You certainly don't need heat at those temps.

    Chickens need to find the perch and roost while there's still enough light to see. They need to be able to see where they're hopping up onto. That could be one of your problems if they can't see once they get inside the coop.

    Before I added a window to one of my coops, I had that problem. They were waiting until it got almost dark outside before going in to roost, and once inside, there wasn't enough light to complete this mission. So I added a little night light and solved the problem.
     
  5. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah they definitely don't need heat. I agree it sounds like they're avoiding the coop because it's too warm for them. Below freezing isn't even chilly for chickens. Get rid of the heat lamp, they'll be fine. It's below zero here and I don't heat my coop and my chickens are fine.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Wonders, if temps are holding like that in coop, if you have adequate ventilation.
     
  7. mortie

    mortie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay after re-reading your post, the part about you laying awake worrying about them really struck me and I wanted to tell you how it went for me and maybe it will help you.

    I live where it gets cold. Not just chilly a couple of times in the winter, but COLD. Consistently cold with no breaks or nice warm days. Last winter we had 50 days that were below zero. That's below zero, not below freezing, and I'm talking about actual temps not wind chill. With wind chill we're talking -50 sometimes. It's not at all unusual for us to have a whole week without the temp creeping above zero and it won't get above freezing until march now.

    When I decided to get chickens, I spent a lot of time researching how to handle them in the cold. I read everything. I spent hours and hours pouring over every website and forum post I could find. I have friends with chickens and I talked to them about it as well. I finally came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to have a coop that is well ventilated to prevent frostbite since that was the most dangerous thing. I based my coop design (for 4 birds since we're only allowed 4 in town) on the purina design and built it and everything was good all summer.

    Then in november, temps plunged below zero a little earlier than usual. I was armed with my knowledge both from first hand accounts from my friends and also countless internet sources and books that my girls would be fine. Yet, the first night it was below zero I did worry about them. I went to bed thinking about them and first thing when I woke up, I looked out the window. There they were. Fine. The next night I was still anxious so I looked in on them after they went to roost. They were totally fine. Roosting like on any other day. They weren't huddled or anything and were certainly not in any distress whatsoever.

    It was then that I relaxed. Unless you have some very exotic breeds like maybe nakednecks or something, which I don't know anything about, your chickens are well equipped to survive in much colder temps than you are experiencing without even batting an eye. If it helps, think of all the other animals that live outside in the winter. Or imagine yourself going outside in a fluffy down coat. you wouldn't be cold at all. What feels cold to us doesn't necessarily feel cold to them.

    I have heard far more stories about people having difficulty getting their birds into a heated coop than stories about people having trouble with birds being too cold, so the fact that your chickens would rather stay outside doesn't surprise me at all.

    I understand you not wanting to let your water freeze, since I have to deal with that as well. I keep my water out of the coop because I don't want excess moisture in there because I know that frostbite is actually something to worry about where I live (as opposed to freezing to death, which is pretty rare if the birds have shelter). I have a heated waterer because frozen water is going to be a problem for me 5 months out of the year. But I keep it out of the coop because frostbite will, too.

    You might try the cookie tin water heater, just google the design and you may be able to find a cookie tin cheap somewhere leftover from christmas. It takes a really low wattage bulb and keeps water from freezing and probably won't impart as much heat to your coop if you feel you have to keep the water in the coop. i know some other people have their water outside and they either refresh it a few times a day or pop the ice out and replace it. That didn't appeal to me so I bought a waterer I just plug in and it keeps several days' worth of water unfrozen for me even when it's below zero.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is I completely understand where you're coming from with being concerned about your girls, and I wanted to assure you they are totally fine. If mine are out playing right now when it's well below zero, yours will certainly be fine. In fact, 50 degrees at night is probably more bothersome to them. I bet if you turned the heat off, they'd go right in at night like normal. If you turn it off and see for yourself, you'll be able to sleep much better at night without constantly worrying about the temp because you'll know they are more than capable of handling that and much colder even. I know we want to spoil our chickens but sometimes it has to be about what THEY want, not what WE want. Yours seem to be saying that they don't want the heat.

    Good luck, I hope you find a solution that works for you and your flock, and have fun :)
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Went thru a similar thing as mortie my first winter....you just don't believe it until you see it.

    Same thing in dealing with heat in summer...experience is a dear teacher.
     
  9. BarneyNCyndi

    BarneyNCyndi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom. We are off to Home Depot to get a new bulb. I am ashamed to say that we insulated the house and nesting boxes. However, we do have 8 windows that open like french doors. We found glass inserts at habitat for humanity and made our windows. BUT, we have covered them with mylar bubble insulation sheets. We do have those two vents at the top which have air filters. Our coop is small 3x5x5 and portable so we can move it around the yard [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Our new plan is to replace the light with a soft glow version. Last night everyone was in the coop except our Goldie Girl. She is our loaner and we believe the lowest in the pecking order.

    Thank you again and have a happy new year. You know, I am going to do research on signs and symptoms of chickens with a cold. I guess that is the nurse in me.
     
  10. BarneyNCyndi

    BarneyNCyndi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 9, 2014
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    Thank you again, we bought a 60 watt bulb. The results was six girls roosting in the coop. Time to go and close them in for the night.
     

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