Friday, September 24, 2010

What do Chickens do during the Winter?

The Commander went out to close the Coop last night and discovered that the Guineas had not gone in, but were settling down outside in the rain. He caught them one by one and put them away. This got me thinking, why would the guineas not go into the coop even though it was raining? Could the rooster have kicked them out?

This is the inside of the coop, there is room for all the chickens and guineas to bed down at night but what happens during the winter when it can get as cold as -20 degrees? Do chickens and guineas go out in the snow during the day? Are they still fed outside? If they don't go outside is this too little room for them? (I have 10 guineas and 9 chickens)

What do you do with your chickens and guineas during the winter?


  1. Guineas still retain most of their wild instincts and really love to roost out of doors in trees, even in bad weather. (I used to have 60 of them, and learned a lot about guineas then.)

    Yes, give them free range during winter. Their eggs will have many more nutrients and the birds will be healthier. They will scratch and forage.

    What a nice little coop you've got there!


  2. Mine didn't much like the snow, but they got out in it. Granted, we don't get anywhere as cold- usually the coldest is around 0F at night and 9F during the day, and that's pretty rare. I don't know the dimensions of your coop, but it looks a tad tight for 19 for extended periods.

    Maybe you could make them a small area "outside" that's pretty much enclosed- covered with a tarp and maybe hay bale sides to cut the wind. That would give them space to stretch out during the day, but keep them warm and healthy.

  3. Faith, You had 60 Guineas - that had to be very loud!

    BYBW, Yep the coop will be very tight if the birds decide to not go out during the winter. We are thinking about making a straw house for our rams, maybe we could make one for the birds as well.

  4. The guineas want to roost outside at night. You should let them. Ours never come into the coop to sleep anymore. They sleep high up in the trees. The chickens would have more room then!

    Most of our chickens were born last Oct, so last winter we had 2 heat lamps in the coop. The chicks and keets all spent Oct thru Dec in the coop with heat lamps. In Jan we let them venture outside - they hated snow and cold, but they would go out for short periods. Some of them weren't bright enough to go back inside and we'd find them very cold and wet outside, so we monitored their outside time when the snow was deep. I still considered them to be babies back then. That was when Guinea Boy flew away for 3 months.

    Recently I asked Randy about this winter. Randy the country boy. I am the city girl, but he was raised on a farm with guineas and chickens. He said guineas can stay outside all winter and they will be fine. But, I couldn't help but notice he built them their own side of the chicken coop separate from the chicken pen, and is making them a little door so they can come into their own coop for protection from the elements. I don't know if they'll use it, though, they love the pine tree.

    I also asked him about the chickens. We still have those 2 heat lamps. recently when the temps dropped down into the upper 30's and it was raining and all the naked molting chickens got wet we turned on one of the heat lamps during the day so the chickens could come in, dry off, and get warm. If it gets below freezing out there I'm sure we'll turn on at least one of the heat lamps at night.

    PS - don't know if I ever told you, Randy is retired military. I see the pic of the Patriot in your sidebar...

  5. Chai Chai, Oh, I don't think I mentioned, the chickens will get feisty and fight if they are locked up during the daytime now that they know the outside is out there. When mine were locked up, they didn't know about the great outdoors, they had never been out yet. Now when they are locked up during daylight they fight. We are going to let ours out this winter and hope they are old enough and smart enough to know to come inside to the warmth during the day when they get too cold.

  6. That chicken coop looks just way too clean! That's the problem!

  7. Lynn,Last night was the first time that all the guinea hens did not spend the night in the coop - a lone male roosted outside. We have been letting everyone out into the yard and they really seem to like it.

    My worry will be when it gets really Minnesota cold, what happens to anyone staying out for the night.

    I don't like how the guineas are always running the chicken hens away from the scratch I toss out.

  8. Terri, The coop most certainly is not as clean as the picture indicates.