Transitioning chickens between indoors & outdoors in winter - Advice appreciated!

Mar 26, 2020
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Hi all,

Looking for advice about transitioning a chicken inside/outside in the Maryland winter. Thanks in advance!

Yesterday morning, (about 20 degrees), I brought my ISA Brown indoors. I noticed the day before that she was limping pretty significantly. We can't find evidence of bumblefoot or tell what/were the pain is coming from, so we thought we'd keep her mostly indoors for a couple days, limit her activity, keep her off roosting bars, and see if that helps. Because she gets antsy when she comes inside (we had her inside over the summer for another issue) I returned her to the flock for a couple hours midday yesterday (35ish degrees) to socialize, and brought her back inside early evening. My house is about 68-70 degrees.

This morning, after being inside since about 4 pm yesterday, she's NOT a happy camper. I wanted to take her with me to let the girls out this morning (25 degrees) but worried what the temperature change might do to her. So of course I Googled it, only to find that once brought indoors, she shouldn't be returned to outside until Spring! This is not really an option for her or for me. So I'm looking for some advice.

Here is what I'm considering-
1- My original plan - keep her indoors mostly, but let her out for an hour or 2 during the warmest part of the day.

2- Move her to the unheated garage, and keep her contained in there so she's forced to rest the foot, but not in significantly warmer temps (She'd be isolated all day - so maybe she'd need another chicken for company?)

3- Maintain the "wait and see" approach with her leg but just leave her outside full time? (She was behaving normally before I brought her in, in spite of hardly putting weight on the injured foot/leg).

Buffy and I would both appreciate advice/suggestions. I'm also interested in suggestions for the best way to keep a chicken inside.
 

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Mar 26, 2020
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Is your coop/run large enough to put a dog crate into those to keep her in the crate but with the flock? Then she wouldn't move around as much and heal the sprained leg?
Thanks for your reply - I could put a dog crate in the run, but not in the coop. My concern with the dog crate - and this may have been a freak thing - but last summer we put her in a metal dog crate in the house. My husband did something that accidentally startled her. She jumped up, got her head & beak through the top of the dog crate, and then turned her head 90 degrees so she didn't fit back through, and got stuck (hanging from her head). Thank goodness we were right there when it happened and freed her immediately. I don't know what would have happened otherwise. So I'm reluctant now to put her in a dog crate when she can't be supervised. I do have one of the plastic crates, but it's not nearly as large, and I don't know that it's appropriate for her to be in all day long.

Have you used a metal (wire) dog crate with better success with your chickens? Maybe it was a freak thing and I'm worrying too much.
 

CluckerFamily

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Thanks for your reply - I could put a dog crate in the run, but not in the coop. My concern with the dog crate - and this may have been a freak thing - but last summer we put her in a metal dog crate in the house. My husband did something that accidentally startled her. She jumped up, got her head & beak through the top of the dog crate, and then turned her head 90 degrees so she didn't fit back through, and got stuck (hanging from her head). Thank goodness we were right there when it happened and freed her immediately. I don't know what would have happened otherwise. So I'm reluctant now to put her in a dog crate when she can't be supervised. I do have one of the plastic crates, but it's not nearly as large, and I don't know that it's appropriate for her to be in all day long.

Have you used a metal (wire) dog crate with better success with your chickens? Maybe it was a freak thing and I'm worrying too much.
I only use metal dog crates so that the chickens can see each other all the time. You may want to use a plastic crate instead to help with your peace of mind.
 
Mar 26, 2020
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Thanks for your replies! Here is the concern I have with the dog crate - Last summer we put this same hen in a metal dog crate in the house. My husband did something that startled her. She jumped up and got her head stuck through the top of the crate. Thank goodness we were right there when it happened and freed her immediately. I don't know what would have happened otherwise. So I'm concerned about putting her in the dog crate again. I don't have a plastic one that's big enough for her to be in all day. I do the metal one in both an XL size and Medium (I think) size.

I know a lot of people use dog crates. Is there a particular size that is safer? Or was it just a freak thing that probably won't happen again?
 
Mar 26, 2020
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179
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I only use metal dog crates so that the chickens can see each other all the time. You may want to use a plastic crate instead to help with your peace of mind.
Do you recall what size your dog crate is? Maybe I had her in one that was too big? Mine is an XL that was for my 90 lb. dog.
 

CluckerFamily

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5 Years
Feb 14, 2016
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Do you recall what size your dog crate is? Maybe I had her in one that was too big? Mine is an XL that was for my 90 lb. dog.
I think mine was a small but I am unsure of that. You want minimize the mobility of her so that she can heal her leg.
I know it wasn't the large, exlarge or giant crates I have. I think I bought the small just for the chickens but this was 7 years ago, it does fit through the people door on the run without unfolding it, if that helps.
 

NatJ

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Mar 20, 2017
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Thanks for your replies! Here is the concern I have with the dog crate - Last summer we put this same hen in a metal dog crate in the house. My husband did something that startled her. She jumped up and got her head stuck through the top of the crate. Thank goodness we were right there when it happened and freed her immediately. I don't know what would have happened otherwise. So I'm concerned about putting her in the dog crate again. I don't have a plastic one that's big enough for her to be in all day. I do the metal one in both an XL size and Medium (I think) size.

I know a lot of people use dog crates. Is there a particular size that is safer? Or was it just a freak thing that probably won't happen again?

It sounds like the problem is the size of the holes--maybe you could attach hardware cloth on the inside of the crate, so she can't get her head through those spaces again. (Or any other material with small enough holes, that still lets light and air through. It doesn't have to be predator proof in this case, so even something like a piece of netting or an old lace curtain might work. Just make sure it is attached securely enough to be safe, with no loose edges to pick at or eat.)
 

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