A couple of winter questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by AngieB, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. AngieB

    AngieB Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm in Michigan, and this will be our first winter with the chickens. Our coop is insulated and we don't plan to add heat. The outdoor run has a roof, and we plan to add plastic on the sides, so I assume they will still go outside quite a bit. They are used to free-ranging most days, but I'm not sure about that yet. So here are my questions:

    1. Are they more vulnerable to predetors in the winter when the leaves are gone for cover?

    2. They are used to having both food and water in the coop and in the outdoor run 24/7. If I want to limit it to 1 water for winter, would it be better to keep it in the coop or the outdoor run?

    3. If we make one of those cookie tin water heaters, do you set it right down in the deep litter? That seems like a fire hazard. It seems safer to put it in the outdoor run on the hard dirt.

    Thanks for any ideas!

    Angie
     
  2. Stevo

    Stevo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Howell, NJ
    During winter the predators have less to hunt. Most small animals are hibernating. Chickens are on the high end of the list lol.

    Keep the waterer in the coop. The chickens should not have acess to the power cord.

    Buy one of the plastic heated waterers. They are less than 50 bux and safe. Some even come with cord protectors so the chickens cant peck the wire.
     
  3. 2468Chickensrgr8

    2468Chickensrgr8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2007
    Ontario
    Once you get through this winter you know what gets you by ....
    We also have an insulated coop and I used a heated dog dish as a waterer in the winter months it worked good but I found I had alot of humidity problems ..... I use no heat source also unless we get some crazy minus temperatures ....I am thinking of setting it up just outside of the pop door in their yard . I leave the food inside the coop normally all the time ...If they go out into their yard I throw down scratch to keep them busy .I let mine free range if they want too so they dont go " stir crazy" in their coop ...if they dont want to come out I hang some veggies for them to eat and keep busy with ...pumpkins,squash,lettuce etc.
     
  4. AngieB

    AngieB Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 29, 2009
    Livonia
    Thanks for the ideas.

    As of this morning - a new question!

    We don't have a wash tub in our house, so I brought the waterers in to wash them in the bathtub. That was a mess. But I can't see having my bare hands in ice cold water at the hose outside all winter.

    Where do you wash your waterers in the winter?

    Maybe a heated dog bowl would be best for me so I can dump it, wipe it out with a rag most days, and then just fill it with a jug.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    1. Are they more vulnerable to predetors in the winter when the leaves are gone for cover?

    I really don't know. I let mine free range year round.

    2. They are used to having both food and water in the coop and in the outdoor run 24/7. If I want to limit it to 1 water for winter, would it be better to keep it in the coop or the outdoor run?

    Whatever suits you best. I'm in a different climate than you and I am usually home all day so I can manage things. Here is a photo of mine taken when the temperature was 8*F. The low that night was 4*F. I keep my water outside in a black rubber tub that sets in the sunlight. You'd be surprised how that can keep the water thawed at pretty low temperatures, but at 8*F it does freeze. It is not always sunny either. Every morning, I just turn it over and stomp the ice out.

    [​IMG]

    3. If we make one of those cookie tin water heaters, do you set it right down in the deep litter? That seems like a fire hazard. It seems safer to put it in the outdoor run on the hard dirt.

    If you make one of those and have room, could I suggest you build a small platform up out of the litter and firmly attach that heater to the platform. Give them some room to stand up there and drink. That way it won't get kicked around, you can firmly attach the cord so they don't mess with it, and the water does not get bedding in it. If it is something they can try to roost on, hang something over it so they cannot perch on it and poop in the water. If it is out of the wind, hanging an empty gallon milk jug or bleach bottle over it would work, but if it is where the wind can get to it, it needs to be heavy enough so the wind does not blow it out of their way. Maybe put some sand or dirt in it.

    I don't get algea or slime build-up in the winter so I don't clean it. I just stomp the ice out and it is clean. With the heated dog bowl, I doubt you will have much need to clean it if it is up where they cannot scratch stuff in it. Wiping it out would probably work.

    Good luck!
     
  6. AngieB

    AngieB Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 29, 2009
    Livonia
    Great information! [​IMG]
     
  7. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You're going to get days when your chickens will not want to go out so keep their food and water in their coop. I never wash my waterer in the winter but rinse it out when I refill it if it has collected too much debris. Put your heater up on bricks or pavers and make sure these completely cover the bottom of the heater this will not only reduce the chance of fire but get it higher where the birds can't kick as much stuff into it. Minimize the a length of electrical cord to the heater, use only heavy, exterior extension cord and fly it from the plug to the heater, do not run it along the ground or floor. A well insulated coop is a plus but make sure it isn't airtight--you will need ventilation to get rid of the excess moisture the birds will give off. Finally remember you're going to suffer much more from the bad weather than the chickens--they have nice warm down coats and will get used to the cold, you're going to be the one struggling through the cold and snow bring food and water to them.
     
  8. JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom

    JoAnn_WI_4-H_Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:We do this, it works very well.

    Big wattles dragged in the water can be a frostbite problem, depending on how cold your coop is.
     
  9. AngieB

    AngieB Out Of The Brooder

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    Livonia
    Quote:About the ventillation - Our coop has LOTS of ventillation, and the vents are up just a littler higher than their roost. So I want to close most of it off so they don't get too drafty at night. Will I be able to tell in the morning if there is too much moisture? It's a big coop with just 11 birds. Right now I have 2 vents open just a crack. So I'm not sure how to test if that is sufficient. for a large, open coop, do I need more than 2 large vents open a crack? (there are pics in my byc page of the coop and vents)
     
  10. andysforrest

    andysforrest Out Of The Brooder

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    Angie,

    I've made it through one winter with some devasting losses to our first chickens. We had a weasel and couldn't figure out how he was getting into the coop. After conversation with the DNR here (central IL), we found that weasels are a prominent winter predator and can get through spaces as big as 1". So, I would recommend you check every inch of your coop for cracks, holes, etc and get them plugged up. As far as free-ranging, we just made sure they were always up before dark (and some days that required they stay in all day).

    I have a question to post to others regarding winter's light: How do you manage the lack of sunlight/daylight hours? I've thought of getting a timer or some such other thing to keep light going, but have heard that white light can encourage pecking and I don't want to create any bad habits. Any thoughts?

    Andy
     

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