Chickens on ice

I must say that when I decided to follow Robert Plamondon’s advice on open-air chicken housing, it was with some reservations. The health benefits to the birds for the improved ventilation are quite obvious, but it seems the health detriments to them in cold weather are equally so. Well, it seems I have no cause for concern. Last night the temperature dropped to 12° and our birds were fine in the morning. Robin shot this picture of the little chicken mafia in the afternoon, still below freezing.

When I let them out this morning, there were 4 well-chilled eggs waiting for me, and 11 very thirsty birds. We don’t have a water heater, so the ritual each morning is to thaw out the chicken waterer and refill it. Then they all do their best at emptying the thing. I will be very glad when the weather gets warmer around here. Winter in Oregon is not supposed to be frost-bite inducing.

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5 Responses to Chickens on ice

  1. Lynn says:

    Being the major novice on chickens that I am, I didn’t realize they can survive in such cold temps. I keep my coop warm with 2 heat lamps – my chickens are only 2 months old. I will have to do some more research on this before they get much older. I did look up your link on Robert Plamondon’s advice on open-air chicken housing. You coop looks better/safer than his open-sided ones. We have spent alot of time trying to make the chicken coop and pen animal proof.

  2. Leigh says:

    Interesting. Thanks for the link. I’ll have to look into this more as we are hoping to have our chicken area ready by spring.

    I’ve had chickens, but that was a long time ago and they just fended for themselves in a room in the barn. That was in southern Illinois where it gets pretty cold. I’ve never raised chicks so I’m guessing the use of heat lamps is for those that were recently purchased as a new flock.

  3. Jessica says:

    If that’s the chicken mafia, who’s the don? And where are the machine guns tucked?

  4. Benita says:

    I remember my mom and dad using heat lamps at our farm in southern Indiana during the winter months. I can remember having to bring in the waterers to thaw before filling them up again and taking them back out.

  5. lee says:

    Lynn – Everything I’ve read says that young chicks are very susceptible to temperature drops. They also don’t have as high of ventilation requirements since they are so small. We would definitely be running heat lamps and shutting up the window if we had young chicks. Robert Plamondon uses his coops on pasture with a 6″ hot wire fence to protect them. Our coop has to protect the chickens in the presence of trees that would allow raccoons to crawl down in the pen area even if the fence stopped them. If I had found his site sooner (or the early 1900s books the idea is based on), we would have designed the coop a little differently, but it would still be full enclosed for nighttime safety as you said.

    Leigh – The 1912 book I read on open-air coops talks about keeping chickens on the east coast in the presence of snow banks. I’m not sure what their comfortable lower limit is, but it would seem to be much lower than their tropical ancestry might suggest.

    Jessica – The donitta is at the front right. That Golden Laced Wyandotte is at the top of the pecking order and the first to approach any threat. And of course .. they keep their guns tucked under their wings. If they were just out swinging them around they would get arrested for brandishing.

    Benita – Thawing out the waterers has become my morning ritual for the last few days. If we had months of this weather, I would probably invest in a heated water fount base. I grew up in northern Indiana, so I can imagine the weather you’re describing. Not a fun temperature for chores.

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