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Any advice please on caring for hens in winter when working full time?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by PaulaMc, Dec 2, 2016.

  1. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chirping

    Oct 29, 2016
    Bolton, England
    Hi everyone.

    I live in the north of England and currently it is winter. The days are getting shorter and shorter- sunrise 8-8.30 and sunset 3.30. I work full time as a teacher so need to leave home at 7.30am and often do not get home until after 6pm. This wasn't a problem in the summer as I would let the girls out at 5.30, feed and water and clean out the poop etc. They would not go to bed until 10pm when the sun went down.

    However, they don't want to get up on the dark mornings and have gone to bed before I get home. They free range during the day in my secure garden and have lots of sheltered areas and food and drink stations etc. To add to the problem I currently have two very broody Silkies who need to be enclosed in a separate run each day. I am currently off work ill and so am able to sort them out during the daylight hours but am wondering how other people manage in winter please?

    It is not a problem for me to clean out poop using my trusty headlamp and to fill feeders etc - I know it sounds silly but when I go back to work I'll miss giving them their afternoon treats and spending time with them.

    Any advice please for a very sentimental chicken lady?
    1 person likes this.

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Do you lock the pop door at night or do you leave access to the outside open all night? I generally lock mine up at night and open the door in the morning. In circumstances like you describe I open the pop door before I leave in the morning and fill the feeders and waterers. When I get home I lock the door. They will not be eating or drinking in the dark.

    As a teacher you should have weekends off. Enjoy them then. Summer will eventually return.
  3. PaulaMc

    PaulaMc Chirping

    Oct 29, 2016
    Bolton, England
    Thank you Ridgerunner.

    Yes I lock them up at night and let them out in the morning.

    I know I seem a bit paranoid but it is my first winter as a hen keeper:)

    Thanks so much
  4. Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    \Wow. I thought our daylight was short right now! Thank God that summer will eventually return! [​IMG]

    That sounds pretty difficult. Like @Ridgerunner said, better make the most of the weekends. You are a trooper doing things with a head lamp! And the thought of not even being able to see them is enough to make me wanna cry. [​IMG] I depend on chicken TV to perk up some of my days. But I know I would learn to adjust as you are if I had to. Wish I had better suggestions other than saying "hang in there, I don't think I could do any better." [​IMG]
  5. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Welcome to BYC! It's great to have you.

    Oh boy, I could not imagine working full time! I wouldn't have enough time to even care for as many birds as I have now. I'm not sure I really have any advice for you, perhaps others will have some suggestions.
    1 person likes this.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    What do you have for predators there? That would be my chief concern. Sorry, I can't offer you much in the way of advice, other than a bigger coop would definitely be an advantage.
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I am a teacher of sorts with similar hours. Each evening I load buckets with feed and do a quick scan of feeders and roosting birds with flash lights. Where supplemental lighting is used, it is setup so hens are down of the roost when I feed and water early in the morning. I lot of information can be gathered by seeing the walk around but simply walking over and feeling them on roost can be employed as well. My few remaining free range birds are less trouble with respect to actual care but more worry when it comes to predators. Those a provided a feed mix that is reloaded every two or three days and it give me a handle on feed needs for everyone when temperatures drop.

  8. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I am a teacher too. It is daylight for me in the morning, but dark when I get home. Saturdays are a lazy day for a cup of coffee, a bit of chicken watching.
    1 person likes this.
  9. I Love Layers

    I Love Layers Crowing

    Apr 25, 2015
    North Dakota
    I have the same thing except I'm a student, sunrise at a 7:45 and setting at 4:15.

    What I do is wear a headlamp out in morning and night and do my chores then, I do more in the evening as the yard lights are on and that way I can maybe sleep in a little the next morning.
    Use the weekends to the fullest. Spend as much time with them as you possibly can and clean the coop on the weekends. I also fill my feeders every weekend, along with clean the waterer.
    It gets better trust me, also you may feel like you are tired of the birds due to not having time during the weekdays, but all the work for winter really pays off for the rest of the year.
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Can't imagine keeping chickens and working full time....
    ....but a headlight is an essential tool, IMO,
    all year round and especially during 'the dark season'.

    Not sure what to tell you about the silkies needed to be moved everyday.
    Maybe separate them 'permanently' with wire enclosures,
    large enough for feed, water, and to move around for a daily constitutional.

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