Central NY winter, ugh

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jaylorm, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. jaylorm

    jaylorm Hatching

    Jun 24, 2014
    Central New York
    This is my first experience with chickens, and so far I'm really enjoying it, but I have to admit I'm second guessing my decision to have them, winter really stinks. First of all I only have two, and I wonder if they're adequately keeping each other warm enough. We just had a nasty cold spell, with lows around 15, they made it, but I'm worried about when "real" winter sets in and stays for four months. My coop is elevated about two feet off the ground, insulated floor and walls, but not the roof, which I'm kicking myself for. I also have a thin layer of dirt on the floor and about four inches of pine shavings, I clean it daily to keep the humidity down, I believe the ventilation is good and it doesn't appear to be drafty. I have a digital thermometer with the base in the house and the sensor in the coop. What bothers me, is during the cold spell, the temperature in the coop was usually the same as the outside to around 3 degrees warmer, which tells me I'm doing something wrong. I don't use artificial lighting or heating and didn't really plan on it, from what I've read it doesn't seem like a good idea. I don't use the deep litter method, mostly because I don't really understand it and the coop seems too small for it. Am I nuts? I think my hens are a hoot, they're sweet and friendly and one just started laying adorable brown eggs for me. I just want to do right by them. Am I doing something wrong? sorry for whining, any advice?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Stop worrying about keeping the coop warm. How warm the coop is doesn’t matter. What matters is keeping the chickens warm. Two totally different things.

    I’ve seen chickens sleep in trees in below zero Fahrenheit weather. They were in a protected valley, in a thicket, and could move around to get behind a tree trunk if they needed to get out of the wind. They had great ventilation and stayed warm without any outside heat.

    So how does a chicken stay warm? They trap tiny bubbles of air in their feathers and down. Their body heat warms that trapped air. As long as they don’t get hit by a breeze strong enough to let that trapped air escape, they stay warm. When they settle down on the roost and fluff up their feathers their feet are covered, even if they are on a relatively small tree branch. They are quite good at keeping themselves warm, much like the wild birds you see playing in the snow in winter.

    Decent ventilation will get rid of the bad air. It also lets a lot of the warm air escape. So what as long as the air trapped in their feathers and down does not escape. They’ll stay warm.

    Many people will tell you that you have to have the flat side of a 2x4 for them to roost on or their tootsies will freeze. It doesn’t hurt for them to sleep on the flat side of a 2x4 and you will make a lot of people happy if you do that, but I have not found it to be necessary. But then my temperatures don’t get all that cold. Most winters my coldest temperature is just a few degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Gramma Chick

    Gramma Chick Crowing

    Apr 19, 2012
    Jordan New York
    Hello Neighbor ...I live in Jordan NY ...Hating this heavy snow... how about you ?
    I too feel sorry for the chickens out there ...They are fine though ...
    I have 23 chickens ..3 ducks ..I actually go in the coop to warm up ...no heat source there other than the chickens ..

    this was yesterday..It rarely dips below 30 degrees in there .[​IMG]


    Metal cage for ducks , space on top for 4 - babies - 4 months olds , to the right the roosts for the 19 Adults .
    We have a slat coop / run . Plastic is on the back & on the front door for winter .
    It shares the side wall with the shed . our small original coop is inside the new coop ..as the hen house where they lay .
    Do you have pictures of your setup ?
    there is a New york thread also ...if you want to visit
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/231485/ny-chicken-lover/41770 <- 41770 page
    You can start at the beginning or just jump in at the end ...
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2014
  4. jaylorm

    jaylorm Hatching

    Jun 24, 2014
    Central New York

    Here is my coop in July when we finished building it, It's in a 5' x 15' kennel. It's covered now for winter with an ugly tarp and one side is covered as well to help block the wind. The door opens and we have an insert with a much smaller door and a partial plastic flap that they go in and out of, that i put in every morning and take out each evening when I close them up for the night. I have a removable ramp for them as well. I only have the two girls so they share the roost inside to the left. Come spring we are planning on building a bigger one in a larger fenced area so I can get a few more chickens. They were free ranging until a neighbor's dog killed one of my original Brahma's ( I had two), so now I have a Brahma and a New Hampshire Red. The dog comes back frequently so they are stuck until the new fence is installed, weather permitting.

    That was some heavy snow, and yup, I hate it, and I'm amazed your coop stays so warm, right now it's 24 outside and 29 in the coop, poor things. Your chickens look cute and not the least bit annoyed by all the snow, mine were not amused. Thanks for the pictures, seeing them in the snow makes me feel a little better.

  5. RonP

    RonP Crowing

    You seem to be doing everything I would, except worrying [​IMG].
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    What a delightful photograph!

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