Chickens at school

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Russell Delaronde, Nov 12, 2019.

  1. Russell Delaronde

    Russell Delaronde Hatching

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    Hi i'm new to this forum, although I browsed it in the past when I ran into problems similar to ones posted here I never made the jump to make an account until now. I've had chickens now at my own property for just about 4 years now. I've wintered chickens one year and that always seems to be a challenge I hear many differing opinions on regarding just how resilient chickens are, nevertheless I always take necessary precautions when winter starts to roll in. My flock at home is always roughly floating around 10-15 chickens per season, but this year is a bit different since I've started working at the local elementary school. At the school I work as part of the school's greenhouse program to show kids basically how to grow their own food and to know exactly where it comes from. Just this week a couple in the community were kind enough to donate to us a small simple chicken coop, very basic and enough space for 3 chickens tops so i'll be incorporating that into the teaching. As always, winter does not wait for anyone and temperatures are dropping (currently -6), I have some knowledge to fall on but I figured I would create an account so I can quickly access other knowledge holders in case I get stumped with a question I cannot answer. Right now I'm in the works for wintering the coop so the chickens don't die on my watch. Its a small coop as i said, they don't have much indoor space, just nesting boxes mainly. Not much space to move indoors, no roosting. their outdoor area is big but with winter coming they'll be spending more time inside. I'm hoping I can make good accommodations for them, any feedback is appreciated, i'm hoping I don't have to drastically change the structure of the coop, but If I do what would people say is absolute priority for keeping chickens in the winter months. Thank-you (P.s i know this isn't really a question but it's always good to get feedback from other chicken owners, small flock owners primarily right now, but anyone with any feedback will be appreciated)
     
    Sequel likes this.
  2. Momplus1

    Momplus1 Songster

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    I am no help, but I wanted to say thank you for teaching these kids things like this. My daughter was in 2nd grade last year and hatched out some chicks in the classroom. I think that sticks out the most in her few years of being in school. We purchased 3 chicks and that got us started on chicken Keeping. We have 17 now and 6 ducks! She's a third grader this year but her classroom is right beside a 2nd grade class that will hatch eggs later this year. She's already excited about being able to peek in her neighboring class once the chicks hatch! Thank you!
     
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  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    What coop do you have and what area do you have to work with? Photos and dimensions could help a lot. Maybe a link if they sell that coop online or have a site. Are you actually in a greenhouse? How protected is the area from wind and snow? The more you can tell us about what you have to work with the more we can tailor suggestions to your unique situation. A general location so we know climate might help but you obviously see some cold. There is a difference in zero F and -20 F for an ultimate low.

    The basic requirements for weather is that they stay out of direct wind and have good ventilation. Many prefab coops have horrible ventilation, that's one thing I would want to look at. As for wind, how sheltered is that area? Do your openings create a wind tunnel effect where the chickens are?

    The tighter they are packed the more likely you are to have behavioral problems from bullying, feather picking, all the way to cannibalism. If the area the coop is in is predator proof or if you build a run that is predator proof you don't need to lock them in the coop at night for predator protection. That can solve some space and management problems, especially on week-ends.
     
  4. red horse ranch

    red horse ranch Crowing

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    Welcome to BYC! Glad you joined us. :frow

    Where are you located? The winter weather in your area will make a difference in some of the answers you get. Here in Wyoming my poultry may be confined for weeks at a time. So inside space is very important. It sounds like the coop you have may be a bit small for even 2 or 3 hens. Covering the outside pen with clear plastic could give them a little outside space to get out when the weather is bad. And an automatic door on the coop would be a big help for those days when you aren't there to care for them.

    I think it is great that you will be teaching the kids how to care for poultry. They may not want their own flocks but the knowledge will always be there for them if they do.

    Introducing them to BYC would also be something good for them to know. ;)
     
    Russell Delaronde and Sequel like this.
  5. I'm in SoCal where it's just stopped being in the 80s in time for Thanksgiving so you can interpolate how much I know about winterizing for chickens. But here's my thought anyway...

    A donated coop is a lovely thing. But if it ain't right, it's not gonna work. How about saying "thank you very much" and putting it aside until the Spring when you can experiment with having a small flock at school.

    If, after having the chickens for a few months. you decide as a school community, that it's a valuable experience, maybe, again as a whole school community, you can come up with a plan for building an adequate arrangement or making significant modifications to the donated digs.

    I agree with everyone that it's a great experience living with chickens. And the school is lucky to have your experience to rely on. But this is a commitment of time, money and materials that needs a big solution for a great result and that shouldn't fall to you cobbling together something that may never be adequate from something that never was right in the first place. Then, as well as teaching some animal husbandry and sustainability, you're (the school) also teaching assessing a problem, designing solutions, executing a plan and maintaining an appropriate environment. All tremendously valuable learning! And I'm betting in your school community there's someone with skills, someone with materials and, most of all, someone to partner with you in making this a successful experience that will serve you all for generations -- of chickens.

    And while you're all discussing and coming to resolution about all of this don't forget to factor in the fact that the chickens will need ongoing feed, veterinary supplies, bedding, etc not to mention care. Who will make runs to the feed store and will there be a budget for supplies? Who will do the mucking out? Who will be there over holidays and the semester breaks? And who's the second and third backup when something comes up for the assigned person? Who will get the eggs? And the inevitable who has a plan for when the kids have to deal with the death of one of the chickens? Again, all this is valuable experience but not something to enter into blindly because someone wanted to disburse themselves of an inconvenient coop.

    Just think of me as the curmudgeonly realist whose chickens never get cold. :old
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2019
  6. Russell Delaronde

    Russell Delaronde Hatching

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    I'll try and answer as many of those as possible, but I live in southern Quebec where temperatures can sometimes drop to -30C on the coldest day in February. Like I said I've wintered chickens in the past, it wasn't all that difficult. I'll be making some adjustments to the coop today (hopefully I'll get to post some pictures afterwards). Also I thank everyone for the kind words of encouragement on getting this started here, but to those wondering about time & money there is no worry, I would not have started this engine if I had no idea where it was going. Thank you guys very much, I like the idea of the plastic which I will probably be adjusting today, also the location of the coop will be moved since it is in a windy location. Perhaps will be making it slightly bigger as well to at least fit more indoors. Also, just wondering if anyone knows, but while searching the greenhouse I found plenty of extra heating pads for plants that aren't in use, I'm not sure if perhaps they can be utilized or not? Let me know what you guys think about that.
     
    red horse ranch likes this.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    I assume those heating pads are the seed starting pads. I've never used them so I don't know how well they will stand up to chickens scratching them. Will they be damaged and cause a short? Some people use those to keep the nests warm so eggs don't freeze.

    -30 C is close to -20 F. That's getting cold. That's right on the border where a little heat might not be a bad idea.
     

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