Worried about shivering chickens and sudden drop in temperature

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by clucknorris1, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. clucknorris1

    clucknorris1 Out Of The Brooder

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    I wasn't planning to use a heat lamp (still not, except maybe just this once) - not a fan of the fire hazard or the idea that if they aren't used to the cold it can hurt them if suddenly the power goes out in the dead of winter.

    However, we just had a major drop in temperature from yesterday. It's been hovering around 24-26 during the days and about 14 at night. Today, it's gone down to -13 and it will be colder tonight. I decided to keep them in today until they've acclimatized,but of the hens are shivering in the coop, which is well insulated (more than it should be - it actually needs more ventilation but that's for another discussion). I've been topping their water up with hot water and making sure they aren't getting frostbite, but watching my one hen shivering to no end trying to lay her third egg ever just doesn't sit right with me.

    Would it make sense to put a bulb in there, probably just til tonight, to let them get a little warmth? It would be well supervised - I can see the coop from my office window, and we check on them often. I'm concerned that if they couldn't handle a power outage, a drop this dramatic might be too much. It could just be first time hen mom worries but hoping someone can shed some light on this. It's really ****** cold out there. I have a light that can hang from a hook on their ceiling, it's not super big though as we only have 4 chickens. Looking mostly for advice from people that generally don't heat or only sometimes heat their coops. I don't want to make it harder for them.
     
  2. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    How about a heating pad or two on the walls and see if they snuggle up to it? I THINK that would be safer, just a thought...it is getting to -13F here tonight too. Also I am just putting out straw flakes everywhere for them to distribute at will..they are enjoying doing that...me and chickens are a team! I figure they will know where it should go...that is my task for today. I will deal with clean out or mess later...they are finding comfort under the coop at the moment...maybe line that nest box with a LOT of straw, up the walls etc? Poor chicken!

    And [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  3. clucknorris1

    clucknorris1 Out Of The Brooder

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    We've been doing a sand litter up until now, hubby is on his way back with another back of sand to make it a bit thicker which we will then cover with tons of pine shavings. Usually it doesn't get this cold until January so we were caught a bit off guard! I'd rather not buy a heating pad just for this if I can avoid it, but I could try heating up those magic neck heat pads with rice in them and cover it with a bag to help warm them up (or is that what you meant by a heating pad?). I'm trying to think if there's anything else I have that could safely be placed in there. I'll go look for the magic pad now.
     
  4. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    I dont know if those pads would raise temp for very long...I was meaning plug in heating pads. Straw is probably more insulating than pine shavings. Sand is not. Sand will get cold. Period.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    I use sand......Not to start a debate but they are fine....I run a heat lamp also....Not warm in my coop by no means...My water ices up but never freezes....Well vented....2x4 Roosts flat side up...Keeps toes toasty.............-22 Celsius with a windchill of -32 this morning.....All my Birds are Healthy and happy.....



    Cheers!
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    On the MN prairie.
    The drop in temperature is not what's causing the shivering. I think it's from lack of ventilation, then adding hot water - making it too humid in your coop. You know how you get that bone-chilling cold when it's humid in the winter, and how it's not nearly so bad when the air is dry? That's what it's like for your chickens. Chickens will get frostbite when it's too humid in the coop, even when it's relatively warm out. Since I quit closing up my coop and adding heat, I've had happier, healthier, more comfortable chickens in the winter.
     
  7. clucknorris1

    clucknorris1 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you, this is very helpful. The water I've been adding wasn't steamy by any standards, but that said, I grew up in the prairies where the mercury gets a LOT lower and I've always said it feels 10x as cold here (Ontario) because of the humidity... it gets right into your bones! So the hot water might not be helping.... I don't know what else to do though, it has been freezing quite quickly, hot or regular temperature - I'm looking at a heated waterer for sure because I don't think we really have a choice. I've been checking their combs (only 2 have combs decent enough to worry about) and they haven't been too bad, although the shivering chicken really doesn't have a comb (it's maybe a millimetre, hardly noticeable).

    Anyway, I put a bulb in for a couple hours this afternoon (watching them like a hawk, of course) and they were doing well shortly after. We filled the coop with pine shavings, which definitely got them happy and warm, so we'll continue with that through the winter (was planning to soon anyway, but turned the place into a pine shaving wonderland ;) )

    I'm wondering if it may have been because she chose the nesting box closest to the door, she was shivering when I opened it but I guess it's possible it started only when I opened the door. She was in the middle of laying her (third ever!) egg so she didn't want to move. Either way I'll monitor it, I don't mind giving them a bulb for a few hours here and there until they get used to the Canadian winters ;) and I'm going to need to land on a solution for adding more ventilation asap.

    Thanks for all your help!
     
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I also can't imagine how cold sand is in this kind of weather....add humidity to it and it's cold AND damp. I think the pine shavings are a good move. A heated dog bowl works great, been using one for some years now...just need to elevate it above the bedding and put it high enough on the bird that a rooster isn't dragging wattles in the water when he drinks.
     
  9. clucknorris1

    clucknorris1 Out Of The Brooder

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    It's actually pretty decent - the reason we went with it is because it doesn't retain moisture very well so bacteria can't build up and it keeps their toes dry and clean (although it does get a bit cold to walk on as time goes by, but it's not damp/frozen). With the exception of right at the coop door, where it gets wet from outside and freezes about an inch around the doorway, the rest of the coop is clean and dusty and I easily use a makeshift "kitty litter scoop" made with mesh to scoop out the droppings a couple of times a week so it's nice and clean.

    The hens seem to like it - I was definitely planning to add something insulating on top for the winter, but we have a weather-based business and honestly this is the earliest it's gotten this cold in years - I figured we had another month to get organized. I've been looking at heated dog bowls but they cost almost as much as the poultry ones so we might as well just get one of those. Good to know about the wattles though, I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for your help!
     
  10. backyard2104621

    backyard2104621 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last night was cold like -13 F
    Worried about them all night.
    Then today I back from work at 2Pm ( -7F)
    Run to check my two girls immediately
    So I tried to insulate the coop to help them stay warm(by cover with plastic and put big block of bedding material around the coop under the plastic cover though).
    In coop like about (-2F)
    In coop has heat waterer , a lot of bedding.
    Two girls snuggle close to heat waterer when I first open. They still happy and take my meal worm treats.
    And they still alive .. i am very happy of the day.
     

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