Will my single molting henpecked hen be ok at 22 degrees tonight?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TheLoneHen, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. TheLoneHen

    TheLoneHen Out Of The Brooder

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    Forgive me - I don't know much but I'm learning. Through reading here and elsewhere I relaxed about my hen Florence being outside down to freezing, but now it's getting colder. She hasn't gone bald from molting but lost a lot of feathers and looking a little ragged, has a 2 inch bald spot on the back of her neck from injuries over a year ago - pecked by a flock - where the cold will directly hit her, she's in a dry ventilated small cedar coop with no heating devices, and has no one to huddle with. Do I bring her in the house or will she be okay? At what point does she NEED heat or to come in?

    Thank you so much.

    (Yes I know she should have another chicken. I got her from a nieghbor who moved away and my hope is to try to transition her to live with chickens in the Spring. I have her set up with mirrors and she loves herself. Haha. She also spends time with me everyday - but at night she's been on her own.)
     
  2. OrganicFarmWife

    OrganicFarmWife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    22 degrees is probably still ok, assuming she is healthy and has plenty of water (being well hydrated helps keep animals warm)
    I could be wrong but her bare spots could become in danger of frost bite. But until it reaches colder temps, she should be ok.
     
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  3. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    You need to be the judge of how much of her body surface is exposed and subject to heat loss due to lack of feather cover, thus insulation.

    If too much of her body is exposed, then loss of body heat could make her vulnerable to suffering cold exposure, no matter how well fed she is. It's the same as if you expected to survive a day outdoors in below freezing temperatures with insufficient clothing.

    I had an aging hen who managed to survive all last winter with the after effects of an incomplete molt that left her body only partially feathered, and those feathers were in terrible condition, providing little insulation against cold. She managed okay at night by sandwiching herself in between two other hens. However, on sub-freezing days, I hung a heat lamp in the run for her to warm herself under. You've never seen such a grateful hen, believe me. Alice pretty much hogged that spot directly beneath the heat lamp.

    Her health problems finally ganged up on her and I had no choice but to euthanize her early last summer. Your lone hen is going to have problems keeping warm at night with no companions to roost with, and on sub-freezing days, it's going to be a real struggle to keep warm without the aid of extra heat. Just think of yourself out there without your hat and coat to keep you warm.
     
  4. TheLoneHen

    TheLoneHen Out Of The Brooder

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    Ha-ha. Even before I read your message I was starting to think I better bring her in. She should have someone to huddle with *and* she should be able to fluff her feathers and trap in her body heat without that loss coming from the back of her neck. I don't think she will be happy about being brought in because it disrupts what she's used to but I need the peace of mind to know that she's OK. Thank you both for taking the time and sharing your wisdom.
     
  5. GodofPecking

    GodofPecking Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Inside is the best bet. You might want to consider using an old fridge for a roost ( or nest or brooder ). I have had great success with them, keeping freezing conditions away from the chicks mostly. It's like if you were stuck out in the cold, a big coolroom would keep you warmer than standing outside. Sure, there is no door, but it keeps the exposure to the sky at bay.

    Laying it on it's back makes for an easy open lid, but you have to hose everything out towards the entrance, or you can put the entrance on the side. I lined mine with wood and sheetmetal around the hole because I worry about them picking at insulation.

    [​IMG]
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    It remains dry inside at all times and like any bird that nests in a cavity (owls, parrots, woodpeckers) chickens love them. I had a CFL light inside the fridge for the chicks all night, and bugs would fly in to their doom, the chicks loved it.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Be aware that drastic temp changes not such a good idea.....bring her to someplace that's about 40F degrees, not your 70 degree house.

    You could also make her a 'huddle box' to sleep in,
    cardboard box that's twice her size with an entrance just big enough for her to get into,
    that would allow her body heat to warm the air around her.
    That's what I do for my chicks outside before fully feathered.
     
  7. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Aart makes a very important point. When dealing with sub-freezing temps, it's critical that you try to maintain a range in which your hen can be safe from the effects of cold exposure, yet not exceed too many degrees in either direction. For example, if your hen is used to spending the days outside where it's in the 20s and 30s, then you'll want to keep her somewhere at night that's not over 40 or 50 F. If you bring her into your house that's 70, she'll likely become heat distressed.

    I've seen this happen. I had another hen that was crippled and couldn't get around well. The others in the flock reached the point where they refused to allow her to roost with them. She adored being with me, but when I tried to bring her into the house, she got cherry red on her face and wattles and panted. She couldn't handle the excessive range in temp and I had to fix her up a bed in the garage where it stayed around 40 at night. If I had gradually acclimated her to the warm house temperatures, it would have been no problem, but as much as she liked being with me, she still wanted to be with the flock where she could feel a part of things, and so she was stuck in that cold range.

    With Alice, my denuded hen, she slept in between two other hens in a coop that was in the high 30s, and during the day, when she had the heat lamp to maintain her body temp, she could move in and out of the hot zone, much like chicks do in a brooder, and she never faced the danger of getting too warm.

    With your hen, find the range in temp where she'll be most comfortable, acclimate her if necessary, and try to keep her inside that range.
     
  8. TheLoneHen

    TheLoneHen Out Of The Brooder

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    What a peaceful feeling when I brought her in last night, and she was a lovely indoor guest. I walked outside today and every ground plant that had been living was crumpled and crinkled, turned to ice. I think since I don't have much room here, after reading the suggestions what I will do is leave the outside door to the laundry room cracked open so it stays cold in there. I have a Wi-Fi thermometer (pictued) that I was keeping in her coop, so I can move it to the laundry room and monitor that her indoor space stays cool. Thank you all so much!

    [​IMG]
     

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