Chickens in the winter...

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by Mamachickof14, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. Mamachickof14

    Mamachickof14 New Member

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    Hi! I'm Jen and I have 14 chicks I've raised from babies and must say so far have done very well! Now winter is coming and I'm getting nervous...I don't know where to begin??! I have an Amish made coop with 6 nesting boxes. Is this coop enough for 14 chicks? Should I tarp their outside pen? Tell me everything I need to know! Thanks! Jen:eek:
     
  2. hollyosborn

    hollyosborn HollyOsborn

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    How cold does it get for you? I didnt do anything with mine as we are only below 0 for a few weeks here where I live, little snow.. but my chickens were used to it when i got them, with no enclosed area.. NOW i have them an enclosed coop, but they free range during the day so they are all over, snow, rain, mud, below zero, or 112 degrees. I would say.. put a heat light in the coop with them??? I dont have electric to mine so they have to become good friends and warm each other... lol
     

  3. cindy

    cindy New Member

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    how old are they? where do you live? I have an Amish made coop as well and never use any heat source
    I feel heating a coop will make them weaker in the long run. winters comes on slowly not all the sudden
    so I just let my girls adapt naturally I've never lost a chicken and its gets very cold here in the winter...
     
  4. 7chicks

    7chicks New Member

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    Heat doesn't make them weaker. It does however, make them lay eggs for you through the winter. Mine have been in a heated coop for going on their 3rd winter now. I have led xmas lights hung on the ceiling to give them some "daylight" during the long dark fall/winter months. Between the keeping the coop heated, and lit up (not all night long - just until around 9 p.m.), I get eggs as consistently as if it were summer. Coldest their coop has gotten in well below 0 is around 40 at early morning which is colder than I'd like.
     
  5. cindy

    cindy New Member

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    This question often gets asked whether you should heat their coop during winter. the feeling is this isn't a good idea. Chickens adapt to the cold weather over time. Their body metabolism actually changes along with the seasons. When you heat your coop, the birds will never get used to the colder outside temperatures and can setup them up for getting sick more easily plus if the heat were to accidentally cut off such as "power outages" causing a sudden change in temperature, you could literally lose your entire flock overnight not to mention the fire hazard's that a supplemental heat source causes. 10- 5lb chickens in a coop produce about as much radiant heat as a 100watt light bulb.some things to consider is making sure their water is always fresh and not frozen, clean dry bedding, adequate ventilation but not drafty,using petroleum jelly to prevent frost bite etc.. as far as egg production my girls lay as good in the winter months as they do in the summer.my Amish made coop is so well designed that last winter the water in the coop never froze in less then 15 degree temps.. JMHO....remember chickens have been around much longer then the advent of electricity
     
  6. kejmack

    kejmack New Member

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    When I lived in a colder area, I had a light bulb in my coop for the winter area. 7Chicks is right. The warmth helps them lay better.
     
  7. cindy

    cindy New Member

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    you are missing the point............
     
  8. Mamachickof14

    Mamachickof14 New Member

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    I can't thank you all enough for your response! My husband and I are going out today to see what we can find...maybe tarps to break the wind, straw to line the inside of their outdoor pen, some kind of a roof to keep out the snow...we are pondering all your answers! The electric does go out alot here...as soon as I figure out how to do pictures I will send you some. I really enjpoy reading all your post...so much good information! I want to be the best *Chicken Mama* I can be! Thank you, thank you!! Jen :)
     
  9. 7chicks

    7chicks New Member

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    Heat in my coop runs off hot water heat from the wood boiler. No electricity needed unless I want it or need it. We do have 2 lights and 2 outlets professionally wired in. Great for me when I have to be out there at 5 a.m. before leaving for school and I'm trying to get them set for the day with their door to run open and food dish filled. ;)
     
  10. jjwilson72000

    jjwilson72000 New Member

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    I do a few small modifications for winter, but for the most part they are fine. You'll notice they "puff up" a lot in the winter, what they are doing is trapping air in between their body and feathers which keeps it much warmer than the outside air.
    In winter I stuff newspaper or rags into the eaves of the coop which are otherwise open the rest of the year for ventilation. If there is a lot of snow I will stack some hay bales around the sides of the coop just so the snow doesn't accumulate too much and there is some insulation. Never had one freeze to death, I am in northern illinois.
     
  11. Lady_Alia

    Lady_Alia New Member

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    The other morning was in the 40's and when I let my birds out my poor little Hawkie Belle stayed huddled up with her feathers ruffled. She's my little one pound Belgian bearded D'Anver. I worry about her staying warm in the winter.
     
  12. redmaples

    redmaples Junior Member

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    everyone gets to excited about winter!!! don't worry chickens were once a wild animal don't forget. just make sure they are kept dry and out of the wind. you'll be all set. chickens are very hardy. and they just fluff their feathers to help insulate. just close the windows on the coupe. They don't like snowy weather so they won't be out when it snows. If you feel comfortable with the tarp then do it. remember heavy wet snow and tarps usually don't mix!!!
     
  13. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe New Member

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    Yep. Chickens have been surviving looooong before the advent of electricity to keep them warm. In the 5 years we've had chickens we have never lost a bird to cold weather. They are far more susceptible to excessive heat than to cold.
     
  14. Sundancers

    Sundancers New Member

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    I agree with Uncle Joe ... the chickens on our farm do very well in the winter. Thay have a coop to stop the wind, cold rain & snow ...

    But to be honest they go out in it the stuff anyway. :)
     
  15. Riverdale

    Riverdale New Member

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    Jen, where are you at? Winter in Kansas is different than winter in Michigan. Then again, winter in Michigan is much different in the UP vs LP.

    Myself, I am in the middle of the big mitten (aka Michigan USDA zone 5A). Our flock has a choice to go in or out (except on really crappy days) year round. Seeing a chicken chasing a snowflake is a riot.

    We have no heat, nor a light (our coop roof is translucent corrigated roof material, we just keep it cleared off). Our flock lays year round. We have ISA Browns, RIR, Buff Orps, Austrolopes. Jeff has talked me into trying Buckeyes next year (luckily there is a breeder within 5 miles of me).

    Good luck, and with more info, we can give you options ;)
     
  16. Mamachickof14

    Mamachickof14 New Member

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    Thanks again all of you...lots of good information here! I think I'll just do the light for more daylight hours. *14* chicks should give off enough heat for each other. They can stay in or go out in a tarped area. I love the snow so I will shovel or anything I have to,to keep my girls happy. If egg productions drops a little, thats OK too! I live in New York. Last winter was pretty mild...we got only 5 inches of snow all winter. I just wanted to be prepared...thanks again! Jen:)
     
  17. malissa

    malissa New Member

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    Facinating thread! I too am wondering how to winterize. Only 2 of our 5 hens are laying so far and we need to get on the lighting first and foremost. We bought a solar rope light thinking we could put it in the coop (the party coop) but seeing it on, it isn't very bright at all so I'm not so sure it will make a difference. Was hoping to keep it off the grid. Our coop has a built in run and my hubs found an old drop cloth so I was thinking we could cut it up and block off the wind under the coop for them. That way they can be out and under the coop, but would be shielded from the wind. I don't want to confine them to the coop all day and that way they can get some fresh air. We also have closed the 'windows' for the season as it's been getting pretty cold at night. Their door is always open and there is a vent hole in the coop of the coop so I'm hoping that is adequate. The windows don't seal that well, so I'm sure there is plenty of ventillation. When my husband built our coop, he put foam insulation sheets between T-111 (exterior and interior) so I'm hoping that will help them. I also was thinking of putting straw in their run for the winter. Any pros/cons to this? Right now, it's all dirt and I thought the straw would help for drainage and maybe some warmth...but I'm not sure if it would because a wet mess. We've also been using wood chips in the coop....but could change to straw if it is warmer. What do you guys think? They sleep on the roost bars up at the window levels, so I don't think they'd get cuddly in the bedding, but then again, I'm not sure what a cold chicken would do! hahaha
     
  18. 7chicks

    7chicks New Member

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    I have wood chips in my coop year round. Easier to scoop their poops with the chips. When I clean their house, the wood chips go right into the woodboiler. The poops that get scooped in their coop daily go to my garden to be tilled into the soil come Spring. My run too is nothing but dirt. It "used" to have grass ... I do toss in wood ashes in there for them. (After the bucket of them has sat for a few days of course so there are no hot coals.) Keeps the run from getting nasty smelling and I put a bunch in the hole they made for bathing in the run. Soon as the snow flies, I bank their house and run. That really snugs it up nice for them.
     
  19. Mamachickof14

    Mamachickof14 New Member

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    My coop is small for 14 hens so I too added a covered pen for them in the winter. I was wondering if I should put down hay or straw...which would be best? I have a light that goes on (timer) at 4:00AM and off at daylight but no added heat. They are still laying! I'm still worried how they will make the winter. This will be my first!? New York can get really cold and windy! Thanks for any comments. Jen:)
     
  20. CountryMama

    CountryMama Junior Member

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    I'm in Vermont, zone 4, and I've never heated the chicken house in the winter. It isn't HEAT that makes chickens lay all winter, it's LIGHT. I've always used a regular little lightbulb (OK, yeah, gives off some heat. This year I've got a CFL bulb out there to save on electricity costs and that won't throw nearly as much heat) on a timer and I've always had very good laying through the winters. The things that can be problematic in a chicken house are drafts and moisture. Here's what I did to keep both of those things to a minimum: My windows were just open squares with hardware cloth over them. In the winter I loosely stapled plastic over them. The floor of my chicken house was also just hardware cloth and it was suspended several feet above ground. I kept a thick layer of straw over the hardware cloth so that there was circulation and yet insulation. That's it. This year is the first year my birds are in a hoop coop. Right now there is a tarp just over the top but not the ends. At some point in the next couple of months I'm going to open the tarp out all the way (it's folded into thirds right now) and drop it down over one end. We'll then put bales of straw around the outside of the coop because the tarp only comes down to about 6 inches from the base of the house. The bales will keep drafts and blowing snow out of the house. The other end will be left open and the coop will be oriented so the open end is away from prevailing winds. We do keep a thermostatically controlled heating unit under the water to keep it liquid.