illinois towns that allow backyard chickens - Page 18
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My coop/run also got some additions. Every year, I come up with some kind of "home improvement." The big thing you'll want to figure out is how you're going to change things when winter arrives. (No hose = a change in how you clean things. Nov - end of March you'll want the chicken chores to be streamlined) Since your run is covered, wrapping it in plastic sheeting will turn it into a cozy greenhouse. Unheated water will still freeze, but your girls will have a safe place to scratch around. Although I have winter hardy breeds & leave the run door open, mine just don't do snow. I personally, do not heat or light my coop/run. but I do have a birdbath de-icer in my waterer. I can clean & refill it once a week & forget about it. Likewise with their feeders. i go out multiple times a day to check on them, grab eggs, bring scraps, & sift sand, but its mostly for my benefit - not theirs.
Normally when I open the run up, they all rush outside to the grass. When there's snow, they simply stay inside.
Here they are just looking at me. .....Waiting for me to make the snow go away so they can come out.
By mid winter, some will eventually walk out to the areas where I have shoveled.
The other thing you'll want to look for is how quick & easy it is to do a thorough cleaning. If things are at awkward angles & uncomfortable positions, you'll do it less often than you should. For me it was the discovery of sand. I simply sift daily like a kitty litter box. I always do under their sleeping area in the morning & around the rest of the areas as needed. It takes minutes a day, always looks pristine, & saves me the hassle of a bigger clean out every week. I also have a lot less flies in the summer.
I thought I would constantly use my exterior access to the nest boxes, but I tend to only open it when I clean out the nest areas. I can stand up in the center of the coop, so I usually walk inside to sift, visit with the hens, & grab the eggs on my way out. I made all the roosts easy to remove. This has worked well, because they can & will get poop on them.
I plan on covering my exterior run walls with clear plastic. We'll see how much damage Illinois winds will do. Found cheap kiln dried 1x2's in various lengths to use over plastic to hold it down better than just stapling.
I won't be heating my coop as it is insulated, but well ventilated. Time will tell. Illinois winters can be brutal and cold. Lots of snow and sub zero temps at times.
If my coop had been lighter, I could of considered moving it where it received a southern exposure to the sun. But chose the existing for cooler shade in summer.
Oh well live and learn.
Edited by grandma7 - 10/18/15 at 10:28pm
BTW- In the winter you'll get less eggs, so bringing out a basket & carton is pointless. You will however, get some. Often I put them in my coat pocket.
I think you may see where this is going.......
I have walked around with an egg in my pocket until something accidentally bumps my side & I get that warm oozy feeling that tells me my coat is due for the laundry. Once I forgot I had my chicken coat on & went off to the store. I reached in my pocket for the shopping list & pulled out an egg. Oops. I think everyone has a similar story.
My guess is that they're young & sleeping in the nest boxes. Try closing the nests up (blocking access) at night to teach them they should sleep on the roost. Once in a while I even have to place a pullet up there. If it's done after dark, they should stay put. Open the nests during daytime & place golf balls there to show them it's a safe place to deposit eggs. They sell fancy fake eggs, but golf balls are easy & sometimes free to find. You'll need to be consistent, but chickens catch on quickly.
Wow 1-2 hens just seems cruel! In Westmont, it's 6 hens & in Downer's Grove it's 4 hens. Even that seems small since our family eats about 2 doz eggs per week. There is of course a loophole if you're in 4H.