Winter is coming...are my chickens smart enough to survive?!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by IveGotSunshine, Oct 18, 2015.

  1. Hi all,
    I have read tons of info about drafty coops and ventilation and not using heat lamps etc. Here is my question. I have 3 chickens who live in a pre-fab coop very similar to this one:
    (we also let them out to free range in the yard during the day most days or put them in a protected tractor to get some grass/dirt/bugs etc.)

    Attached to this coop I have built a run that is 4 feet tall chicken wire with a waterproof slanted roof. The roof is closed in on both ends of the run but the rest is just wire. The chickens roost at night under the roof in the run. The go in the coop to use the nest boxes occasionally, sometimes they lay in the run, but there arent any roosts in the coop. Are my chickens smart enough to go to the inside part of the coop when it gets cold at night or will they stay on the roosts in the run despite the cold? Will it be warm enough as is or do I need to close off a couple sides? If I add roosts to the inside of the coop, will they use them if they are lower than the roosts in the run?

    This is obviously our first winter with chickens our first chickens in general and we dont want to loose our girls! Thank you all for any input!
  2. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! These prefab coops are tiny, dark, and flimsy, and apparently your birds don't want to spend much time inside. Your chicken wire run won't protect them from predators at all, so upgrading it should be a priority. What breed do you have, and what is your climate like? Protection from rain, snow, and wind, with good ventilation, and bedding, will keep them comfortable most places. Mary
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It helps a whole lot to have an idea of what your winter weather is like when you ask questions like this. If you hang around (and I hope you do) it helps to modify your profile to show a general location.

    I’ve seen chickens sleep in trees all winter. Sometimes that is through heavy snow or sleet storms. Sometimes the overnight lows were well below zero Fahrenheit. These chickens were not on a dead limb overlooking a bluff squawking defiantly into the teeth of a blizzard. They were in a sheltered valley in a thicket where they could get out of a direct wind, just like the wild birds that overwinter wherever you are.

    There are chickens in warmer areas like the Gulf Coast of the US that do very well in situations similar to what you describe. If they were up north where the winters get cold and brutal then there could be issues. Even in very cold climates all they generally need is good ventilation (like chickens sleeping in trees get) but they need to be out of direct breezes. I don’t know whether to be concerned with what you are describing or not.
  4. Okay thanks for the tip, I will update my profile! In the meantime we live in central Northern Maryland. Its 90s in the summers and we get snow in the winter and it starts getting in the 20s at night in October...but it rarely drops below 0 here at any point, even with wind chills. I suppose "chicken wire" is too loose a term! I should have been more specific, sorry, Im learning! The run is built with 1 and 2x4s, waterproof roofing, and galvanized 1/4 inch welded cage mesh, predator proof. =) My main question is just will they go in the more protected interior coop if it is too cold, or would they rather freeze and stay on a high roost?

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