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The Atlanta Backyard Poultry Meetup Group Message Board General Discussion › HOW COLD IS TOO COLD FOR CHICKENS?

HOW COLD IS TOO COLD FOR CHICKENS?

Ellen
user 9528902
Atlanta, GA
Post #: 26
I'm hoping someone can answer this question soon. Right now it is 25 degrees outside here in the city and looking at the forecast for the next few days it is going to get down to 17 and 18 degrees several nights in a row with the high only in the mid thirties. We have 5 hens in a portable tractor. We close them into their coop at night and it is fairly snug, but I am worried about this extreme cold at night. Will they be okay or do we need to put a light inside the coop?
Scott B.
scottbrazinski
Cartersville, GA
Post #: 62
I have friends in Idaho and North Dakota who have chickens. MUCH colder there than here. They tell me to make sure the coop is as "draft free" as possible, while still leaving enough ventilation to let out the humidity (the cold along with excess humidity causes frostbite on the combs). They generally don't add any heat until temps are below zero. Plenty of bedding material...wood chips, etc

I'm in the same boat you are....just let one of my coops outside to free range and they seem just fine. Even my "babies", 10 week old Delawares and 8 week old silkies seem to be just fine and they have no lights anymore.

Hope that helps

Scott
A former member
Post #: 88
I am a firm believer when it gets below 80 degrees it is just to damn cold.

But for the standards chickens all we do is add extra hay on the chicken house floor and before they go on roost we make sure to give them plenty of scratch feed, having a full crop to digest keeps the body warm. We do have a light in the house more for egg production than heat the light keeps the water from freezing on the inside. I have bell waterer on the outside which I have to thaw out for them to be able to have water while in the run.

Chickens are not locked in at night they are free to come and go from run to house, some of them roosted on the outside last night and did not seem to bother them.

We are getting 12 to 15 eggs per day from 20 hens. If they ever get over molting I believe we will be able to have even more. Egg production has been fantastic since changing to Purina's Layena. The problem when it gets cold and stays freezing cold is having to gather eggs 3 to 4 times a day to keep them from freezing.
Chicken W.
chickenwhisperer
Group Organizer
Gainesville, GA
Post #: 622
Hey,

Just keep in mind that chickens have been around since about 10,000bc and that we have only had electricity for about the past 125 years. Chickens have been doing just fine without a heat lamp hovering above them. Also, I was talking with a fellow chicken keeper from up north, and she made a great point. She said that when it's well below zero where she lives, the first thing that she sees outside her kitchen window in the morning are tiny little birds flying around looking for food and water, and they certainly don't have heat lamps hovering above their nests.

Just something to think about,

Chicken Whisperer

Joan K.
user 10069299
Atlanta, GA
Post #: 2
Amazingly, we discovered our first egg tonight- it was frozen solid so our five month old Marann chicken seem to be ok with the freezing ATL temperatures! My husband did insulate the coop he built and put down lots of wood chips.
A former member
Post #: 105
Congratulations.

Hope you are giving them a healthy ration of scratch feed before they go on roost, this will help them stay warm.

Your husband was smart insulating the coop.

Grand Pa Jack
Elaine
bunnyfeathers
Kingston, GA
Post #: 137
We have 6 mil plastic sheeting around our coop.
My daughter takes care of the animals on a daily basis.
She put Rice Bran oil on my feed store shopping list this weekend.
Our vet has recommended it for one of our horses that is having trouble this winter maintaining her body condition. I had just bought the oil two weeks ago and thought it odd that we needed it again so soon. She told me, she has been top dressing the goats, chickens and horses feed with the oil. We already feed the chickens 22percent protein chicken feed. With horses, you can't add more protien to the diet. It has the same effect as giving a child a bag of candy. They get hyper. So the oil is added calories.

All warm-blooded animals have a critical temperature. This is the temperature below which the animal must produce additional heat to maintain normal body temperature. In order to produce extra body heat, an increase in feed energy is required. An estimated 15 - 20% more calories for each 10° F the ambient temperature falls below critical temperature.

Nutritionally, oats and corn compare as follows:

Fiber,% Protein,% Calories/lb
Oats 10.7 11.8 1200
Corn 2.2 9.0 1500

One pound of corn has more energy and is lower in protein and fiber than one pound of oats. Not only does corn have more energy per pound than oats, corn also weighs more per unit of volume. One scoop full of corn has about 45% more calories than the same scoop full of whole oats. This has led to the idea that corn is a “hotter” feed than oats. Actually, because of the higher fiber level in oats, oats produce more internal heat during digestion than corn, it just takes more oats to provide enough calories. Corn or oats alone can provide adequate calories but not adequate protein, vitamin or minerals.

The critical temperature for layers is 68degreesF. For every 30F lower than 68F, the birds require 1.5 g of feed per day extra.

Try to keep the water source available at all times and warm if possible. When the water is cold, it takes additional calories to warm it inside the body. Also, animals will drink less water when it is cold. Dehydration will contribute to the stress level, causing animals to get sick.

Resource: http://www.poultryhub...­
A former member
Post #: 57
The only cold related problems have been on the Roosters combs and wattles , they will get a bit of frostbite on them , and the area turns black. we put a heat lamp out and our alpha roo dang near sticks his head against the lamp [ 150 watt ] . The oddest thing was during the coldest stretch they almost quit eating ; I try to pick one up each day to see if the crop is full , and for a couple of days almost nothing and I checked 3 birds. the feed store guy [ who has birds ] said that his were doing the same thing . anyone else had this experience?
A former member
Post #: 114
Robert we have 20 hens and 2 roosters that we close up in a 8x8 chicken house at night, I have a 250 watt heat lamp bulb aimed at the waterer so it will not freeze. The heat lamp bulb is in a ceiling fixture 8' feet of the floor of the chicken house so the birds can not get into it. So far no problems, I will let them out of the house when the temp. gets above freezing and leave them out until around 5:30 or 6:00 then back into the chicken house with a good helping of scratch feed until the next day. We have been doing this since the weather has been so cold. The light stays on 24 hours per day and we have been getting any where from 15 to 18 eggs per day. We feed Purina Layena Laying Mash and have not had any problem with the hens not eating the scratch at night. Having a full crop of feed helps them in this harsh weather conditions.

I do not know what you are feeding now but try changing there diet some it will probably help the birds might be getting a little stressed out with this bad weather we have been having, I am any time it gets below 80 degrees i think it is to damn cold.

Grand Pa Jack
A former member
Post #: 2
I have 4 hens.... we have about a foot of wheat straw on the ground of the coop... on cold nights these hens seem quite content. they huddle together, but seem happy... the egg production has even increased during the cold snap...
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