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Mn. Chicken questions.

post #1 of 3
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Well I will be starting to raise chickens here in June. I live in MN. Just going to have 3-4 hens. I was thinking RIRS. Now we get some pretty cold weather. Should I be heating my coop? I have read it's not necessary. I was going to buy some younger birds for the kids. Would they be laying by winter and ready for the temps?
post #2 of 3

Welcome to BYC!

To heat or not to heat is something each person must decide for themselves.  *I* have chosen not to use heat as, imo, there is much more to lose (ie the entire coop and all of your birds) than there is to gain when a healthy, fully-feathered bird (or a bird that has not fully feathered under the care of a good mother hen)  is very well equipped to deal with temperatures well below zero without any supplemental heat.  There is also the issue of conditioning birds to the heat when there is always the risk of that heat becoming unavailable due to power loss, etc.  I prefer to provide a sufficient shelter that offers the wind break needed to allow their natural insulation and heat system to do it's job.   Even when I was keeping birds in the mountains of Idaho I did not use a heat - in all my years and with all the birds I've had I have not had one cold related issue.  Chickens are much better equipped for cold than they are for heat. 

Yes, birds started in June will be well equipped for winter with regards to temperature - chicks are generally feathered enough to maintain their temperature in sub-freezing temperatures at 6+ weeks (two years ago my brooder babies moved into the big coop at 5 weeks and 36 hours later we had a major cold snap and snowfall, they were happy as little clams in the coop).

Your birds may be laying by winter - expect anywhere from 22-28 weeks for the onset of production - I find that first year layers are less effected by the shorter hours of daylight of winter than those in subsequent laying cycles where you generally see the "lay-off" in winter. 

Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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post #3 of 3

If chickens are fed good quality feed, have good LIQUID water available, are healthy, and have draft free shelter, then most standard breeds can cope with pretty harsh cold conditions without their health being affected.  That being said, I do use warm-up areas in two of my coops on the coldest nights - I don't call it "heating my coop" because that is not my goal.  My chickens are pets, and I have quite a few oldies - so that guides my actions.  I DO intentionally heat ONE of my coops (to about 45 degrees) because it's a tiny specialty breed (seramas) that typically doesn't weigh more than a pound.  **You WILL need to use either a plug in dog water bowl (I use those here because they're cheap/easy to clean) or a heated chicken waterer to keep water unfrozen.

 

If your chicks are hatched in June, then they will most likely begin laying in November/December.  I'm not sure whether the shortening days of fall/winter will delay there start a bit or not...

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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