Cold Chickens? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I live where it gets cold. -30 to -40f. I have a small barn, it has no heat. I can keep the chickens fed, dry, and out of the wind. I need to find out what breed will survive. Also how to keep the chickens drinking water from freezing etc.?? Or do we stick with powderd eggs?

-- need to know (chicken@fa.rm?), April 18, 1999


Seems like a small kero heater protected with chicken wire would keep it cozy. Don't think a chick would be laying anything in that cold.

-- Foghorn Leghorn (Ah say@dats.cooold), April 18, 1999.

Chicken Man, We live in northern Illinios, it usually gets down to -10 around here (-40 windchill) I can tell you we dont loose many chicken to cold. I think you should check around with local farmers and but chickens that are climatized to your local area. As for the water, give them just an inch or two, twice a day. It will freeze but thats my best suggestion. Bulldog

-- bulldog (, April 18, 1999.

I grew up in central Missouri and it got down to -10 F occasionally. I don't remember our flocks dying from the cold. They tend to huddle together in the extreme cold to keep warm, but they are sensitive to drafts during cold weather. Egg production will go down if the cold continues for a while. Like any other livestock, the ice on their water must be kept broken. I can remember it getting that cold only once in central Missouri when we had to break the ice in the waterers.

Barred Rocks are supposedly the most cold tolerant.


-- Gerald R. Cox (, April 18, 1999.

First - seal it off to cut out wind drafts. Just doing that will increase your chances. Make the "people access" has a double door, or is from the sheltered side to prevent "blowing out" the relatively warmed air.

Insulate? probably not effective, but consider enclosing a small "coop" inthe barn that can be insulated. Getting the chickens in the coop might not be easier - but like a doghouse that shelters a dog - the smaller the volume that needs to be "heated" by the chickens themselves, the warmer the chickens will be.

Perhaps even to the point of not freezing water? Probably not. To the point of increasing their survival? Absolutely.

As stated, even a small (well-shielded) lantern in a draft-tight barn will raise temperatures significantly. A heater will be even better - but consider fuel - maybe use it only if temp gets real low.

Talk to your local "experts" - get to know them personally and "professionally" by asking their opinions. Now, under pleasant circumstances, in time to take effective action. In time to build some bridges with them.

-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, April 18, 1999. add to Mr. Cook's comments, locate your area "experts" by calling local feed stores, farm supply, etc. An alternative: under the yellow pages section of Yahoo, search in your city for eggs.


-- FM (, April 19, 1999.

Our plans include trying to put the greenhouse and chicken house connecting so we can use a small wood stove and direct heat to both. When we had chickens before all we needed was a couple of warming lights but our climate was not as cold as yours.

Also they will not lay without lights all night (or thats what I was taught)so that is a problem we are addressing now.I haven't seen anybody mention this, so maybe it's not true?

I don't want to use kero lanterns as we may have roasted chicken before it's time !

-- sue (, April 19, 1999.


I only add enough hours of supplemental light to equal a total of 16 hours. The lights are on from 5am til morning and from dusk til 9pm. Too much light (all night) isn't necessary or good for the hens. That should save you a little battery power or kerosene or whatever. First year layers will often lay pretty well through their first winter without lights. A great book about all these details of housing, lights, etc. is "Raising Poultry the Modern Way." I'll double check the title and see if it's on Amazon.


-- Kate Bailey (, April 19, 1999.

"Raising Poultry the Modern Way" by Leonard Mercia and "Chicken Tractor: The Permaculture Guide to Happy Hens and Healthy Soil" are both avail. on The "Chicken Tractor" book has plans for a movable house that really does do wonders for your garden! There is a lot of info. on lights in the other.

-- Kate Bailey (, April 19, 1999.

We do -30 to -40 in winter here. I have a zillion breeds of chicken- no problems noticed except that some roosters get a bit of frostbitten comb(turns black). Give the chickens a space that isn't drafty and is comensurate with their numbers. Too big and they can't keep it warm. Then- don't worry. they'll be fine. Just keep it non-drafty. Re: water- it will freeze up -just change it often . If you have a water bucket heater you can use that. We don't- off grid.

-- anita (, April 19, 1999.

need to know; Many years ago we had a 28,000 acre farm,mostly reclaimed land for crops. May I suggest a warming plate used for new piglets. It's a flat plastic electric pad, you can even have straw on top, it won't burn or start fires. Check out the local farm store for this type of pad,concerning the water problem, Try using solar warming, place the water cans near windows or on shelves by windows inside the barn. Insulate the trough and pipe to the waterer,should work fine. email me if you need other assistance.


-- Furie (, April 19, 1999.

We kept 25-30 chickens through 3 winters about 50 mi north of Anchorage Alaska. While some may talk about it getting TO -30 somewhere, there in Wasilla -30 was the norm.

Our bigger problem was light. Since short days accompany the deep cold we usually kept a 100 watt bulb burning about 12 per day (on a cheep timer). The "girls" would congregate under the bulb. We found that when we ponted the bulb to an area where they could sit under a shelf like board so that thier body heat would not rise they actually laid better. Now better is a relative term. Egg production definetly fell off in the deep cold (below -10), but some of the courageous girls would lay anyway with the light and a "low cieling".

You gotta get those eggs before they freeze. Watering was not problem since we were out twice a day to water the rabbits anyway.

We always used a slightly higher protein food for all the animals and birds in the winter.

It's not the most fun thing to do to haul water out twice a day when it's -30 ot -40 but the animals were always a pleasure and we just could not bring ourselves to get rid of the good producers.

-- Greybear

- Got gloves?

-- Greybear (, April 19, 1999.

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