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First winter with chickens-any advice?

post #1 of 3
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I live in Maine where it gets pretty cold in the winter. I have a very nice coop, though it is not heated. Any advice for cold weather chicken care to get me through my first winter with chickens?
post #2 of 3
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Originally Posted by nursesusanb View Post

I live in Maine where it gets pretty cold in the winter. I have a very nice coop, though it is not heated. Any advice for cold weather chicken care to get me through my first winter with chickens?

I live in the south so maybe the Northern neighbors will chip in.  The main thing I find with winter is that you find a way to keep their water unfrozen,  that they can get out of wind and wet (snow, rain, sleet, etc).  It is also important that their coop be well ventilated and that they have a little more space if they have to be cooped up for days at a time.   There are wildly different opinions as to additional heat but I am in the no additional heat camp (but I do live in the south....  way south).   I find even my youngsters do well as long as they have a dry coop,  warm water and plenty of food.   I also make sure that they eat well just before the sun goes down as digestion causes warmth.   I also make sure they have plenty of warm bedding.    Remember they have a nice feather coat to wear.   I also stock up on vaseline and will coat the waddles of my Roosters (the ones with single comb) on very cold nights.     Relax and get ready for some fun when chickens meet snow!

post #3 of 3

I don't think you need to do anything special.  Just make sure your ventilation is adequate so humidity levels don't go up and cause problems.  Ventilation high up allows ammonia and humidity to get out of your coop.  Humidity from respiration, pooping, and any water source in the coop settles on the birds and leads to frostbite.  They are very well insulated with down and feathers that trap heat on their bodies, sort of like that down winter coat that we turn to so often in winter.  Keeping them dry and out of direct wind is usually quite sufficient.

 

Your issue might be water freezing in the winter and I'm always more concerned about that than I am about the chickens' warmth.  I use a 5 gallon bucket with a tank heater designed for use in plastic buckets and horizontal nipples.  When we hit 17 to 20 below zero or even colder, we had a little trouble with the nipples freezing and forming icicles but the water in the bucket itself never froze.  Hubby Ken would hit them with the heat gun for few minutes while I did morning chores and it was all good.  So I'd rather spend 5 minutes out there with the heat gun thawing nipples than lugging buckets full of water out there every couple of hours.


Edited by Blooie - 10/24/15 at 9:55am
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