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Safe flock size for winter months

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I lost two chickens this year and my flock is down to two mature hens. I tried unsuccessfully to add a couple chickens this fall in preparation for another cold Wisconsin winter. Is it safe to keep just two hens in a heated coop? I plan to get some chicks in the spring. Thanks for any advice!
post #2 of 8
Why are you heating your coop, it's unnecessary and can keep your hens from acclimating to our great Wisconsin weather, best to provide a proper environment, two hens will be fine together.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
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Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #3 of 8

Welcome to BYC!

Is this your first winter with chickens?

 

Ventilation is much more important than heat.

See the articles linked in my signature on Space and Ventilation, lot of good info there.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

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Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I will check out these articles.

This will be my fourth winter and I have not used any supplemental heat in the past. But I have now had three different vets who see lots of backyard chickens tell me to use some type of heat source. And I feel even more compelled if I am going to try to make it with just two birds this winter. I have a hard couple months with chicken losses, so maybe I am just being an overprotective mama.

I am considering the sweeter heater, but have not committed yet. I know two people who have had fires from saying no to a heat source but then using the red heat lamp "really only on a few very bitter cold nights". I believe we have a good ventilation and the coop is dry.
post #5 of 8

this is a great question- i'm new to this forum (been following for as long as i've had chickens- 1 1/2 years- just found out i wasn't signed up to communicate)- and this will be my second winter with chickens in SW Michigan.

i used a red heat lamp in their coop last winter- mostly to keep the water from freezing. they were allowed out if they wanted but they didn't care for the snow. the coop came with the house. i think it stays about 40-50 in the winter with the lights during the day, but drops to 35? at night. i think it ever only got so cold once or twice that the water developed a crust on top that was easily pecked thru, despite the lights.
i had a flock of 4 ISAs last winter until the neighbor's dog got 3 of my girls. they were my first. i got 2 new hens from an egg farmer that was "retiring" them and they will be 2 in december.   they were in a large mixed flock that also had roosters and serious flock politics- but weren't "tamed" like my girls were.
my lady will be 2 in march- my girls were so sweet and got along so well from the get-go, but i couldn't locate any ISAs in my panic for winter. now i have a wyandotte and a RIR (who is still in a cage this whole last week because she's a complete beetch) - they are picking on her- which i get the pecking order thing-  and the wyandotte will break up the fighting, but my little girl is still scared of them and the wyandotte will peck at her too if i'm not around (i see this when peeking thru the door). my ISA still lays eggs everyday tho, so she can't be THAT traumatized, right?
please tell me it gets better, BUT- what is a safe flock number to keep warm? if these two heifers don't work out.... will i have to make my little girl a house chicken for the winter until i get new chicks in the spring that she can meet when they become pullets? or will she be ok in her coop? if the RIR doesn't work but the wyandotte is cool, will 2 be ok after all?
 

post #6 of 8
Chickens heat themselves, they have a wonderful coat of down which they can fluff up and hold a cushion of heat next to their bodies, if it's colder hens will sit next to each other, supplemental heat isn't necessary, south facing windows are welcome on cold days and chickens will gather in the sunlight, feeding a chicken more complex foods in the winter like whole corn and sunflower seeds can help create more internal heating through digestion. Also giving them slabs of hay will keep them moving and busy. Chickens don't seem bothered by the temperature until it's well below zero, -20 or less, and when weather initially drops suddenly, today it was 30's, my poultry looks cold, in a month or two 30 will be a nice warm day, acclamation, without it they are cold all winter.

You can use heat, many do mostly because of guilt, but it's unnecessary in most instances, we all do things differently, good luck with whatever you decide.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #7 of 8

thank you.

what about with only a few chickens? i never planned on having more than 7 chickens at a time- i wanted to rotate new chickens in as the old ones quit laying and i'm not eating them (unless the two new ones don't work out).

 

my coop is about 8x8x8? maybe? i didn't build it, and i have to stand on a stool to reach the ceiling hooks.

the windows are facing east, as well as the chicken run door, the people door is north; it's attached to the pole barn on the west, and an enclosed coop is on the other side (about the same size) on the south.

post #8 of 8
I keep my chickens in a 40x40 pole building, I have about 40 in there, certainly not insulated or sealed up, they spread out, they keep themselves warm. Better to have too few chickens with room to get away from each other than crowding, it sounds like you need to set up a separation area for some of you members, integrating adults can be tricky, it seems to take until they forget that they are strangers.

Your chickens should be fine in the coop without extra heat, they will get sun in the morning and the prevailing winds will be blocked, chickens are quite winter hardy, they struggle more in the heat than cold.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
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