Weather To Worry About

You’d think that after severely cold temperatures, that I’d welcome a break in the weather. I don’t. The sort of warm spell that we’re having today is when I worry.

This morning I woke to a serene and haunting scene.




The paths had turned dangerous, as only a thin layer of water over ice can do. Even Lily knows to walk on the snow.

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The runs are a sheet of frozen manure, ice, and dripping water.



By 8 am, the air had already warmed to over 30º F;  it is expected to reach 40 before the day is over. But, there’s snow on the ground, and this produces fog. The air is thickly damp. It is moist both outside and inside of the barns.



That damp is far more dangerous than cold. I’ll do what I can. I’ll skip out manure and put down dry bedding. I’ll do my best so that respiratory disease doesn’t blow in with the fog.

Tomorrow we’ll be back to a deep freeze. I’ll trade my worry over illness to caution moving around. The snow will solidify into a thick crust, and melted puddles will become slick ice, It will be impossible for hoofed animals and people to walk safely. Only the foxes and coyotes will be running freely. Phoebe, though, safe inside of the pen, will be kicking up her heels with joy. That’s one reason why I like to have an animal around that enjoys the winter – the weather is better from her perspective.



  1. Hi terry, I too am worried about todays weather, I put fresh bedding down yesterday, just keeping my fingers crossed. I lost two chickens over the last six months and I dont know why. I am still very inexperienced with them, but im learning, sometimes the hard way.

  2. I also cleaned out my coop yesterday and put fresh Koop Clean down. It has been a very difficult winter thus far. We had 2.5 months of daily rain from April to mid- July, producing 25+ inches during that time, a constantly flooding chicken yard, then 95+ degree temps for a couple of weeks, which are pretty rare in Vermont, and a rapid change in fall to significant sub-zero temps (-21 last week). My interior coop walls became covered with frost for the first time ever, resulting in frostbitten combs. And now this damp, rainy weather. I contacted someone yesterday who is going to do a coop renovation for me in the spring by raising the roof, putting in soffits and maybe even an addition on to the 4×8 foot space. Until spring arrives I am doing the best I can, but a couple of my “older” girls ( will be 4 years old in May) are looking awfully stressed, although they are eating and drinking well. This crazy unpredictable and constantly changing weather isn’t healthy for anyone really. Some say it’s here to stay? I will continue to make necessary adjustments to coops and runs and do what I can until spring to make my hens as comfortable and healthy as is possible right now.

    • You’re doing your best! Staying observant will help to catch things before they overwhelm the flock. Stay safe. I took a bad spill on ice this morning (it looked just like water.) Luckily, all I have to show for it is wet clothes and an aching wrist. Could have been worse!

  3. I also cleaned out the coop yesterday and opened the windows this morning since it’s already 50 degrees here and the coop windows were all fogged over. Hoping for no respiratory illnesses here either.

  4. First pic is amazing. Kinda makes your imagination go wild. Next two days we’re going to be below zero. Not common for our area. Coop was cleaned yesterday, and pine shavings laid down thick. Girls seem to love them. I allowed 4 feet for each chicken, but it still doesn’t seem to be enough in the coop. My BO is still getting picked on. I’m thinking it doesn’t matter how many feet per chicken in the coop, everyone just seems to like to pick on Chica. I’m going to remove her for a couple of days if it continues. Just till the girls can go outside again. I have two white hens. They look like coal miners because we have petroleum jelly on their combs and waddles. The jelly picks up dust. They will be getting a bath first warm day we have. Probably in April. The hens look beautiful, fat and sassy. This could only happen because of your advice on this site. Doc is very proud of HIS chickens. Yes, he says their his girls now. He loves collecting the eggs. It’s his first question when he comes home from work. “How many eggs did we get today?” Makes me laugh because it only took me about three years to talk him into getting chickens. Thanks for your good chicken experience, Miss Terry. Hope all have a great day at Little Pond.

    • Don’t remove Chica! The pecking will only be worse when she is reintroduced. If you know the hen who pecks at her the most, remove that one for 3 days. When she comes back she won’t be on the top of the pecking order and Chica might have some longer-lasting relief. Stay warm!

      • I would have surely made that mistake. It’s my austrolorpe who is the culprit. Her name is Queen and she surely fits her name. “Off with their heads.” Thanks for helping.

  5. Slick ice is the worst! It is what we experience in Fort Worth, TX. We seem to get more ice than snow. I am so very careful that I get out every day and have never fallen once in my adult life. Please be careful because that ice is no joke! I’m glad you got Phoebe in time for winter.

  6. Hi Terry

    I received a worried email from my fellow henkeeper neighbor: “I have a sick chicken. I am hoping that you might have some experience with this. She has a discolored comb, very lethargic, not eating and she did throw up a white liquid when I picked her up.”

    I don’t know how to help her, and I agree with you that the weather is not helping. Do you have any advice?

    Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year, Roxanne (Breines) Sukol

    • Hi Roxanne- have her read my “diagnosing a sick chicken” FAQ. Then she can email me directly. (It’s easy, just click on the “contact Terry” button below. But, I can tell you that it is a very sick hens. Chickens don’t vomit, so if fluid is coming up, it’s because there’s something very bad going on inside of that chicken.

  7. My coops windows are made of chicken wire, so I stapled feed bags over them. Today I went out and punched big holes in them but I’m sooo scared of respiratory illnesses. My rooster sneezed twice while I was out there. It’s only 7 here with windchill at -15 currently. Tonight it will be even colder and tomorrow even colder. I think the high is 2 or 1 for tomorrow. What temperature do you start to worry about Terry?

    • I’d like to correct myself. It’s only 3 here right now, windchill -20. How low of temperatures until you start to worry about your girls?

      • It’s a combination of temperature and coop design. A damp, badly ventilated, over-crowded coop will make any temp worse, and will be especially detrimental below freezing. Dry, well-ventilated, no drafts, with a heater pad for water, and big windows, and the hens are fine with outside temps dipping into the minus teens F. I don’t have experience with temps in the minus 20s, but I’ve heard from folks that do. Insulation and just enough heat to take the edge off is all you need.

        • One more thing – windchill shouldn’t affect the hens in the coop as long as the coop is draft-free. You’ve got several issues in your coop – no glass windows, and I expect little air space. Each set-up needs to be evaluated on an individual basis.

          • Thanks for the help! My coop does have a LOT of problems. It is draft free, so that’s a good thing. I’m leaving them in tomorrow, because it will only be 2.

            I’m building a new coop in the Spring, when I built this one I thought it was perfect. I was a newbie, and a very very wrong newbie.

  8. Yes It’s Below o here in Mi.. Wind Chills 17 to 23 below and even 30 to 40 below wind chill coming. Thank’s for every one in put. It’s good to hear about every one situation.Thanks