Canadian winter newbie of Sex lings

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SAHMof2, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. SAHMof2

    SAHMof2 Chirping

    Sep 11, 2010
    Hi all. I am glad to have found you but am very overwhelmed by all the information I've read thus far.

    I have a lot of questions with winter coming and hope you can help.

    Freezing feet
    Frozen water
    Lack of light
    Heat lamp

    I am so pleased to say I've got 8 lovely ladies. I was able to get them, being my first time, ready to lay at 19 weeks. Currently they give me between 7-8 eggs a day. Because I've not been a chicken lady in winter yet I'm getting nervous about my abilities to keep them alive (usually minus 25celcius or minus 13 Fahrenheit without windchill). They are in an insulted shed my husband uses sometimes which is approximately 14x8 however we have set their coop up in a corner which is 5x5. Even though I was told they'd never roost they do so quite happily. This is part of my concern. Even though the shed is insulated will their feet freeze while they roost? I was thinking of replacing the roost with a type of ledge covered in straw with a dowel mounted 2 inches or so above the ledge so it could still be cleaned but cut down on cold. The sun here sets in winter around 5 p.m. so they'll be in there for many many hours. I'm already feeling sorry for their boredom.

    Also I currently have a watering system set up for them to drink from poultry nipples screwed into the bottom of a suspended bucket with a lid of course. [​IMG] I've heard of ppl using a battery belt around the waterer in winter. Any opinions on this idea or another more efficient one? BTW the shed/coop is very very far from a power source. We'll have to run an extension cord from the house.

    Also as for light of day and lack of it here I'm really not too worried about loss of production. I've heard of putting a light in the coop to help keep production up. Can you tell me if this is beneficial for the birds? If they need the break I'm happy to give it to them. My friends will just have to buy their eggs from the store in the winter while I hoard the few eggs the girls give me.

    Sex lings are supposed to be hardy to our climate but can you tell me if a heat lamp hung from the ceiling would be necessary and at what temperature should it turn on at? I should mention that there is one girl who never gets to be with the other 7 on the top roost. She's always alone poor girl.

    Thanks for this site and thanks for anyone who reads.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010

  2. minister man

    minister man Songster

    Sep 9, 2010
    New Brunswick
    I also live in Canada ( NB actually). I have raised the red sex a links for years, and the white ones, and now grow standard white leghorns and silkies. I have raised them in insulated coops and in uninsulated coops.

    I do run a time clock for light to keep the birds laying through the winter. My experience has been that when they need a break they will take one and moult. The rest of the time they lay right through the winter. I start about the end of August, and add about an hour per day. I add the extra light in the morning for two reasons. One, That means that they are going to roost as the sun goes down. The added light, just turns off and they are not on the roosts. The second reason is that they are up and active by the time I get there to feed them. It means they lay early and I can collect the eggs before I go to work so they don't freeze, and that they are ready to drink when I change thier "ice Block" for fresh drinking water.

    I have never had a problem with frozen feet on the roost. They sit right down on thier feet, like they are trying to hatch them, and keep them warm. The only thing is keep the ventilation holes high above the roosts so there is little to no air moving below them. The hens will tuck thier heads under thier wings, but the males don't seem to, and thier combs will freeze and turn black if it gets cold enough..

    I didn't use heat lamps on the sexlink, but I hang a heat light over the water for the purebreds. Without water, they don't lay. I use plastic dish pans for water. I only fill them half way. When they are frozen, take them outside, turn them upside down, and pour hot water over them and the ice will usally come out in one piece.

    The biggest problem that I have is ventalation. I haven't exactly figured out how to solve it yet. The birds breath, and poop holds a lot of water. It is difficult to get the moisture out of the air, and many belieive that it is the moisture and cold together, that causes the combs to freeze. I have read that it is recommended that there be vents high above the roosts on the north and south ends of the building, to get air through, and little doors over them that can be closed at night. I don't know if that will work, but that is what I am going to try this year. maybe someone else has some help for us both on that one.
  3. SAHMof2

    SAHMof2 Chirping

    Sep 11, 2010
    Thank you both. I'm feel like we have a good number of weekends ahead of us to make our beloved coop and run winter read. Man I hope I can keep them healthy and alive this winter.

    Another question ...

    My avatar shows our run with a plank that leads into the coop. In the spring we had a good amount of snow and slush brought in. Currently we use straw as a litter pack under the roosts and on the floor although they are never on the floor except to eat. I've read a bit on the deep litter method. I can see how gravel in the run would be great to filter the snow and poop away from the hens feet but don't see how sand or gravel would be beneficial on the floor of the coop. Maybe I'm missing something. Do you have any suggestions for what to do in decrease the amount of slush brought in by the girls?

    Also I do not have a door that opens or closes from the run to the coop as the run is enclosed. It faces south and is on the floor. Should we build a door slot to rise and fall in the event of terrible wind chills?

    Thank you.

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