Already worried about winter ...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Des R, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. Des R

    Des R Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2016
    Maryland / Delaware
    I know it's early, but I'm starting to worry about light for the chickens for the winter. I'm just curious, when the days are short, should I extend them with a light in the coop for the girls? And this will sound silly, but what if they are roaming around the coop and the light clicks off, how do they find their roost or get settled in? If you don't use a light... then I assume they'll spend ALL the dark hours up on their roost not eating or drinking? The days get a little short.. I'm in Northern Maryland if that makes a difference.

    I also don't plan on using heat lamps based off advice I've received, but I do intent to heat their water so it doesn't freeze. can the water still be outside the coop? Currently it's a 55 gal drum outside their pop door and under an awning... so it should remain snow free between coop and waterer. We also plan to put clear plastic around the awning so they have a draft free space under the coop and awning.

    Last question... all of the windows close on my coop except the very top in the peaks. The roof peaks at about 6 feet tall with the top foot on both front and back being just wire mesh, for ventilation purposes. Is this too much exposure for winter? Should I make covers?

    Any other winter chicken keeping tips, tricks, or common knowledge I'm missing?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    They actually need just as much ventilation in the winter as in the summer. Water should be kept outside of the coop to help reduce the moisture inside the coop. Are there any eave or soffit events to pull in fresh air? If you choose to supplement with lighting, they will still go in when it starts to get dark out. Some people prefer lighting in the evening. Others prefer to have the light come on early in the morning. Others prefer a 50/50 split of evening and morning. Doesn't really matter as long as they are getting a total of 12 hours of light a day. If you don't mind your girls taking a few months off from laying, you don't need any extra lighting at all. You also do not need to keep them draft free when they are outdoors. If they get too cold, they will find shelter to warm up.
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I have a small light in my coop on a timer that goes on at 4 am and off at 8 am every morning, from October to April (or so). It keeps my hens in lay, so I do get some eggs all winter. Opinions differ on this; if you won't miss fresh eggs, don't do the light. I have two waterers on heated bases in winter, so no frozen water. Some people use the black water bowls and refill them two or three times daily with no heat, and that's fine too. Ventilation is VERY important, don't close things up! Mary
  4. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada

    I am subject to -40º weather l live in Canada think North Pole. I have been keeping chickens and birds for decades.

    Your best practice I find is to not be too concerned about winterizing or heating your coop to help your birds combat the cold.

    Predator proofing "ABSOLUTELY".

    Your efforts should be spent in winterizing your birds and letting them acclimatize to their surroundings.
    This is done by feeding them whole corn as an added supplement in a separate feeder.

    The extra nourishment is more then adequate to bring them through the
    "COLDEST" winter.

    Do keep an eye open for birds that maybe not be adapting well to the new menu and may be at the lower end of the pecking order they can sometimes run into problems and may need extra TLC.

    That being said in a perfect world the flock will flourish and do just fine .

    I do not add any extra heat or lighting.
    Egg production does slack off but I have more than enough eggs for the table all winter long (24 hens).

    Some people may disagree with my method but it has worked well for me and I am not about to change.

    I look at it in the same light as winterizing your car.

    You really do


    have to winterize your car if you can keep it in a controlled environment at all times otherwise you are in for

    "MAJOR" problems.

    When it comes to lighting if you find you are short on eggs it does apparently help. I personally do not bother in my operation eggs are sold only to neighbours when they are available (if the sign is out I have eggs). Eggs in my operation have a tendency to crack and freeze during the winter months (we do not discard them and are fine but use them in house not for sale) the more eggs you produce during these months the more eggs will fall into this category.

    I have roughly 24 Golden Comet hens the longest I ever been out of eggs can be measured in hours >12<24. You will find that the egg supply in any hen is a finite resource the quicker you milk the eggs out of a hen the faster it will be spent and end up in your stew pot.

    On average one hen produces somewhere between 600 to 700 eggs in its life time. Lighting only effect the speed of delivery of the eggs which at the end of the day would amount to less than a year in the hens life is my guess

    If you do decide extra lighting is necessary have your light on a timer to lengthen the day "MAKE SURE IT IS SECURED BY 2 MEANS OF SUPPORT" one being a "SAFETY CHAIN" in case one fails especially if it is an incandescent bulb or heat lamp.

    I personally raise hens as a hobby; and for their manure to enrich my vegetable garden any thing else the hens provide is merely a bonus.

    Here is one BONUS NOW not many people can enjoy seeing in their back yard on a regular basis.


    Nest boxes
    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new. Feed bags are a nylon mesh bag.
    Frozen poop just peels off in below freezing temperatures and just flakes off in summer when left out in the sun to bake and dry.

    I have 65 trips around the sun it is the best method I have stumbled upon.

    Make sure the twine is removed from the open end of the bag it can get tangled around your birds.


    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
    1 person likes this.

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