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The temperature is 225 and the first time the chickens were about 4.5 pounds apiece. Three pound chickens are hard to find so the second time I found 3.82 and 3.84 pound chickens. Thought it would take a little longer than the 3 hours but 5 more hours is a little bit much I think.
Which smoker are you using ? I use a 20 year old Smokette and it still works flawlessly with whole chickens. I turn thermo full blast (maybe 250) and usually load it with 4 chickens at a time. 4 hours is the absolute longest time it takes, switching racks halfway thru. If you have 1 of the new smokers that makes 300 degrees, I would load it full and turn it full blast. Very little wood. (1-2 oz.)
My chicken smokes are always higher than 225 so I don't have any actual experience to share. If we were to use the brisket time/temp theorum of 1.25 hrs @ lb. a 4.5 lb bird would finish at the 5.5 hr mark. Granted, the finish temp of a brisket vs chicken vary by 15 +/- degrees.

You say that you've verified the internal temp of the smoker with a separate thermometer. have you verified the thermomter as being accurate?

The only other factor I can identify is opening the door too often. What smoker are you using?
We always say...

.. throw away the book.

BBQ can't always be done off a recipe. It's a guideline, not a guarantee. So what we need to help with is getting you to where you want.

Low temps, like 225 will give you more smoke BUT you won't like the skin.

Take the recipe, if you like the flavors in it, but adjust the times/temp.

Maybe 3 hours at a lower temp, then bump your smoker up to the maximum temp 250? 300? (depends on smoker) and smoke it until you hit 160 in the breast and 175 in the dark meat.
Thanks for the input. I am working toward doing the Thanksgiving turkey but would like to do it in timely fashion. You have to start somewhere so recipe is a good place for a newbie. I thought at first the size of the chickens was the problem so second time tried to get closer to recipe size. I don't open the door. Most thermometers say 180 for whole chicken. Thought about halving the chickens but then I will not be halving my turkey. Checked with certified thermometer oven temp and probe. Neither that far off +/- 2 degrees. Used lower shelf and recommended 2 oz wood. Will try increasing temp after smoking has tapered off. Again thanks. I have the 025 Smoker.
The temp is a trade off. If you want more smoke flavor, 275 is too high for enough smoke. But 225 is low for good skin.

Best alternative is to try a couple (chicken is cheap) and do one at 275 and one at 225 for two hours then bump the temp up to 275.

We said 275, is that the max temp of your smoker? I actually do mine at 300 to 325.

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