What do i do with my chickens at night

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cluckey, Sep 17, 2014.

  1. cluckey

    cluckey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm posting a picture of my coop in progress. Keep in mind i live in Wisconsin. We have cold winters here. So, the bottom is completely fenced in with hardware cloth, there will be a ramp to go up in the coop from underneath. Now what I'm wondering is... at night, can the access door from the bottom part up into the coop stay open at night or does it need to be closed. I'd like to build a larger run for them as an addition to what we have now and let them out there in the day, but was thinking at night they would be confined to what you see in the picture now.
    [​IMG]

    Also, my baby chicks are 5 weeks old, its been getting cold at night enough for frost. I have them in their makeshift brooder bin in the garage, a small amount of heat lamps on them (just b.c its gotten so cold at night). Are they ok to move into the coop with a heat lamp at this point? I've read that at 12 weeks they can withstand any weather but anything younger than that they need to be at 60 degrees. They are outgrowing the space I have for them now and i'd really like to get them in the coop. Any suggestions would be wonderful!!
    Thank you!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    If the bottom is predator proof then the ramp can stay open. In fact they need lots of ventilation. They don't need protection from the cold. The only reason for a coop is predator protection and a dry place. Chickens can handle well below zero but they'll die without good ventilation. They have tiny respiratory systems that are quickly overwhelmed by dust, ammonia fumes and pathogens that love a warmer moist environment.

    As for the chicks, given a chance to acclimate, they'll be fine. A heat lamp at night for a couple more weeks will suffice.
    Mine are in the coop with ceramic heat emitters from the time they come out of the hatcher.
    A mother hen doesn't heat the ambient air, she just provides a warm spot to warm up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
  3. lamberts chooks

    lamberts chooks Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a forsham arc (same principle, just triangular!!!) I always put the ramp up at night through fear of digging predators, mainly foxes around our way. The ramp is slightly thinner than the entrance, so fresh air can still ventilate, but the ladies are still safe. We also have a larger run around the outside, but this also has a roof on to be safe and their only in it 7am-7pm.
     
  4. cluckey

    cluckey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    that makes sense. I haven't made it "digger proof" yet. So maybe for now they get locked up in the coop until i get some fencing buried.
    Any insight on transitioning them into the coop at 5 weeks with temps in the 30s at night?
     
  5. lamberts chooks

    lamberts chooks Out Of The Brooder

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    I have to admit, I don't have a great deal of experience in that area, in the past I have just gradually increased their time spent outside to wean them in slowly and in smaller coupes they get a nice bit of heat from the other birds, but I do live in England, so winters are mild, much like ours summers really!
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    You could put them out in that but provide a covered huddle box filled with shavings and just big enough for them to fit into with an entrance big enough for two to fit thru.
     
  7. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    I put mine outside here in Northern Wyoming on April 1st when they were 5.5 weeks old. The first night I provided a heat lamp and checked on them obsessively all night long. I had a wireless thermometer in the coop and it said that was in the 20s in there. They were fine --- I was freezing every time I got out of my nice warm bed and went outside. The second night I put the lamp on for them and when I went out to check them they weren't even anywhere near the heat! They were all snuggled together in front of the closed pop door. I went back to bed and stayed there. The next day the lamp came out......and it snowed. <sigh> Yep, and it snowed several more times. It was mid June before our temps were out of the 40s. They did just great. The coop wasn't even finished when I put them out - needed to be painted, needed a real run instead of a temporary dog's x-pen, but they thrived. They are now about 7 months old, laying well, healthy and active. I don't think these little dudes are as delicate as we like to think they are. I have not, nor will I, insulate my coop or provide artificial heat and light this winter. I figure if Mother Nature gave them insulated down jackets, the common sense to take a break from laying when the days are short with long, frigid nights, and they've survived all of these centuries, who am I to alter that? Instead I'll make sure they have a good diet, warm bedding, plenty of good ventilation with no direct drafts on them, and make my only concession to the weather adding a heater to my waterer. Here is a shot of the unfinished coop two days after the chicks went out there, and we got our last snowfall on June 6th.

    [​IMG]

    That said, the right answer is to do what you think your situation calls for, not necessarily what worked for me. There is another gentleman on here, I think it's Jack, who has a gorgeous coop and it's entirely open in the front. He lives in New England and his avatar is a photo of that coop, chickens happily looking out of the open front, and feet of snow piled up! Good luck! Relax and enjoy the adventure and you'll find you'll find you'll have a better time raising these wonderful birds.
     
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  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    And the open front or any comparable large ventilation will serve the chickens well.
     
  9. cluckey

    cluckey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is fantastic advise!! Thank you Everyone!!
     

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