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Help! Chickens in the rain?

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  • Help! Chickens in the rain?

    I am chicken-sitting for a friend until Tuesday. They are free range pet chickens (3 of them. Red ones. She said there are a mix but I forget of which two breeds!) - very friendly. I have them in my fenced garden area - about 40x60' with vinyl wire fence. We put a St Bernard sized dog crate in there to lock them up at night. They seem happy and are laying eggs daily for us.

    Question: We have potenially heavy rain coming this weekend. THe crate is covered on 3 sides with 2 wool coolers to make them feel safe. I need to protect them from the pending rain. Options:

    1. put tarp on all 3 sides over the coolers to keep it dry inside.

    2. Add extra large dog-igloo next to tarped crate in case they need more room.

    3. Take them in barn and put them in an oversized stall for the weekend. If so they won't have grass to peck at. I have plenty of food for them though.

    If I do leave them outside in tarped cage/igloo - do I still let them roam free during the day as usual or do I keep them locked up so they don't get wet. I've heard of chickens getting sick/dying bc they were too wet for too long. I can't let these guys get sick!

    This is my first go at caring for chickens. It's good practice for the guineas I plan to get next month!

    I don't want to worry my friend with this bc she is out of town at her FIL funeral.

    Thanks for any advice!

  • #2
    I don't have chickens but have housesat for people with them in the past. Chickens aren't dumb. If they are uncomfortable, they will go inside. I'd put tarps over the setup you have for them now and make sure the wind isn't blowing into the one open side. It sounds like they are comfortable there. Let them free range during the day but leave access to their shelter. If, for some reason this doesn't seem to be working, put them in the barn in the extra stall with food and water. I'm sure they'll be fine there, too.


    • #3
      I do have chickens. Put them in the barn. Especially since they are not yours!
      "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."


      • #4
        I would put them in the stall. I would rather have someone put my chickens in a safe, secure and dry enviroment where they may be a bit bored, but not out in the elements.
        I LOVE my Chickens!


        • #5
          Now I have this stupid little song going on in my head to the tune of "Singing in the Rain" - Chickens in the rain, Oh Chickens in the rain . . . .
          What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


          • #6
            I would make sure the kennel is not directly on the ground, then wrap a tarp around it. That should keep most water out and insulate it a bit to hold heat.

            My chickens have a whole pen that is covered, plus they can get in some of the stalls, but most often when it is raining, they are running around in the pastures eating and acting like nothing is going on.
            Rhode Islands are red;
            North Hollands are blue.
            Sorry my thoroughbreds
            Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :


            • #7
              If they're used to free-ranging, they'll know enough to go inside when they feel uncomfortable.
              My Equestrian Art Photography page


              • #8
                They will be fine, make sure they have access to something to get under.


                • #9
                  A couple days locked up as long as they have food and water will not hurt them at all. I would be very concerned about predators.


                  • #10
                    If you were sitting my chickens, I'd want them in the barn.
                    They know enough to get out of the rain, but they also need to dry off and the dog crate might not let air circulate enough for that.

                    What a glorious feeling! They're laying again!
                    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                    • #11
                      The rain shouldn't hurt the chickens, but since they belong to someone else, YOU will feel better if they are safely under cover. I'd go for the stall so that you can relax.

                      My chickens are good old rusty Oregon chickens -- they're likely to panic when the sun appears.
                      They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                      Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth


                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you for all the advice. I've decided to move them into the barn. It's passing showers with 60% of thunderstorms - so it could get windy along with heavy rain at times.

                        After reading the posts - I'm sure they would be o.k. - but I'd feel better if I didn't take the chance. I'd feel awful if they got sick. These chickens are so sweet! They follow me around like a dog at pen up time. My 3yo can pet them (briefly!).

                        I've almost decided to get lil chickens instead of our planned guineas! Or both.

                        Thank you all for the advice!


                        • Original Poster

                          wait - dumb question.. are they ok in a stall bedded in sawdust? My main barn has sawdust. The bank barn has pine shavings. The outside stalls haven't been used in years and have old sawdust and a few sprouts of grass - this might be the best place for them - air flow yet dry and good possibility of some bugs to eat!

                          I can put the crate in any of the stalls so I can secure them safe at night.


                          • #14
                            Sawdust is just fine. It will keep them busy scratching around looking for stuff.
                            "Police officers are public servants. Not James Bond with a license to kill."


                            • #15
                              Sawdust works. At different times, we have used old hay, sawdust and shavings to bed our approx. 50 free range chickens. They like the hay the least, plus it gets nasty because the poop sits on top of it and they walk in it, then they get the eggs all dirty. With sawdust or shavings, they mix it in and it stays much cleaner and drier. Toss them some scratch feed and they will have a ball scratching in the sawdust to find it. I would also put the crate in the stall since that is where they are used to sleeping.

                              Damrock Farm


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks again! I put them in the oversized stall on the outside end of the bank barn (think shedrow barn style). Old sawdust bedding. Put 1/2 bale of grass hay scattered around - plus 2 flakes new hay in the crate and a milk crate inside that crate. Covered dog crate with blankets on top and 3 sides so it should be cozy for them. They've been scratching up the stall for the past 2 hours - looks like the are finding bugs!

                                They have chicken feed (looks like cracked corn and another pellet kind) in the feed pan in the crate as well. I had to clean their waterer out 20m after I put them in there - they were kicking sawdust around so much they filled the water dish thing. I had to put it on a mat in the corner and hope it stays clean!


                                • #17
                                  You can also try putting the waterer up on a cement block, or a few bricks, or something similar. That's the only way I was ever able to keep my chickens' waterer clean for any amount of time.


                                  • #18
                                    Throw a couple of handfuls of raisins in the stall randomly and watch them go for it! It'll keep them busy for hours!
                                    Riding: The art of keeping a horse between you and the ground.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      So... they heavy t-storms never made it! We did have 1-2 episodes of downpours so I'm glad I put the girls in the stall. The were hollering at me yesterday afternoon when I went in to move them back to the yard/garden. They are so cool!

                                      I have an old lilac bush in the yard and was pulling out the dead pieces last night (huge pieces out of the ground) - the girls came running over and attacking the ground - a saw them pull up a few grubs. I know they are excited to be here!

                                      Now a quandary: guinea hens as planned or cute lil chickens? I'll have to start a new thread on this one.


                                      • #20
                                        I can tell you I went with chickens after reading over and over how loud, obnoxious, and self-destructive Guineas are
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET