On the chicken front: I’ve found I really don’t have to worry about my girls when the temps are in the 20’s. My Polish hen Phyllis sleeps on one of the outside roosts even when the temps are in the 20’s. I think she’s crazy but she looks perfectly comfortable. Even when we had stretches in the low teens last year they were just fine. I just wrap a sheet of frost cloth around the upstairs coop so that wind doesn’t get in if we’re going to be in the low teens. Early on, I’d worry about them a lot when it got cold, so I’d run a ceramic heat emitter (intended for reptiles—there is no light, so it doesn’t stress the girls’ endocrine systems in the winter) above their roosting area. But, I think that was more for me than necessary for them!
The real danger for us here in Texas is with the heat in July/August. Stretches of temps above 104 with night temps close to 100 are really difficult for chickens, especially certain breeds. So now I run a fan with a misting system in the summer…quite a hoot. —Leslie Halleck, Dallas, Texas
Leslie, the hens in your coop probably kept their water warm even when the temperature outside dropped below freezing.
I read of a small CSA farmer in the Santa Cruz, California, area. She penned her chickens in large runs with tropical fruit trees in them. In winter she would cover the whole thing with plastic. Said the heat from the chickens would give her about 6 degrees of frost protection, which was enough to prevent damage to her fruit trees. (Santa Cruz doesn’t get very cold unless you go east into the mountains.) —Bill Nunes, Gustine, California
Last week when the weather forecast was for 25F overnight, I didn’t give it much thought until I looked out of my window at the pansy seedlings I just planted on the chicken coop roof. There wasn’t much chance they would live, as little as they are, so out came the bed sheet. I used to sleep on burgundy sheets, thank you. Now the chickens and flowers are nestled in them—a queen-size fitted sheet for my “Queens.”
This gives new meaning to a flower bed.
I was amazed that the water inside the coop didn’t freeze. It got down to 25F, and was windy, and the water out it the pen froze. —Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, Nevada