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chickens in extreme winter. need help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by harleyguy927, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. harleyguy927

    harleyguy927 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 15, 2012
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    This summer I built my first chicken coop/run. The chickens are thriving now but I'm wondering about this winter. The coop is a 4x8 with a 6 foot slant roof. It has a 20x20 vinyl window on one end and the ramp on the other end. The entire front opens up for access. It has a raised wire mesh floor with 1/2" holes in it. I put a rubber skirting around the base to prevent a draft and the rest of the coop is sealed up tight. This works great in the summer but in the winter time if I closeit up they might smother in their fumes. I usually spray out their coop every week with a water hose to get the droppings out. I won't be able to do that in freezing temps. Will the chickens be ok spending time outside in freezing temps, and snow?? I also want them to keep laying all winter. They will need 16 hours of daylight to do that. And my coop is set up with a white heat lamp. But I don't think I can run it 24/7 without messing up their schedules can I?? I also have infer red heat bulbs, will those count as part of the 16 hours of light? After the lights go out can they survive a night at near zero temps without the heat?? Will they come out dieting the day when there is snow on the ground. We get lots of snow and windy freezing temps. Any ideas will help.
     
  2. DTchickens

    DTchickens Overrun With Chickens

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    This depends upon breeds largely, some are very cold hardy while others are not. The temps themselves usually are not the issue, it is keeping them out of direct wind and snow. I have found just using a tarp to break the winds on pens for the Shamo I have (which are known for being terribly cold-intolerant) works just fine down to about 10 degrees here (which feels like nearly 0 due to humidity levels here). This was backed up by other people as well from up north.

    But even so, there are some breeds that just cannot handle the cold temperatures; some breeds will also lay during the winter without having to have the aide of a light.

    Best advice is to do research on the breed you have and have a go at it from there. A lot of people on this forum I am sure will disagree with me and say I am wrong or maybe even cruel despite the fact that they have never seen my birds because they like to pamper them more (and some breeds need it). That's understandable; I remember one time giving five birds to my girlfriends step-father, these birds were raised free range so they lived out in the cold of winter (we don't get snow here in MS often, but it is cold a lot of the times) and as soon as he got them home he put a heater and a blanket on the birds. Now there wasn't a need, they were cold hardy birds and got along just fine like they were, if they had not then I would not have let them do it. But still nonetheless, he likes to pamper his birds more and that is just part of raising birds; different people, different views, different methods that may work for some but not for the other.

    I think your birds would probably be fine as is as long as the wind is not blowing directly on them (depending on the breeds you keep), but if nothing else perhaps my post will give you a bump for someone else to come along and comment.

    God bless,
    Daniel.
     
  3. harleyguy927

    harleyguy927 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 15, 2012
    burley, idaho
    this year it will just be a couple of rhoad island reds and a couple of leghorns.
     
  4. DTchickens

    DTchickens Overrun With Chickens

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    Bailey, Mississippi.
    Both of those breeds are supposed to be pretty cold hardy, so what I said would probably work for them. The biggest issue with them would be frostbite on their combs; but again, kept out of direct wind and snow I think they will do okay.
     
  5. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Agreed!11
    Make sure its draft free and if you worry too much about the combs and wattles getting frostbitten coat them in vasoline. I use a garden trowel to scrape poo out during winter, maybe this will work for you??
     
  6. harleyguy927

    harleyguy927 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, the coop is next to my garage and has a 6' privace wood fence around it so they shouldn't get to much wind. The coop is sealed up pretty well. But my coop is a little on the small side and I'm sure they won't want to spend 24/7 in it so I hope they don't mind snow!:)
     
  7. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The breeds you have a hardy breeds. The coop being small is actually to their advantage in winter, it will stay warmer cause its small and the litter will help insulate and all the chicken bodys producing warmth, it will be a good shelter for them. They will get out in the snow but dont like to walk around in deep snow, they dont have shoes like we do so I shovel a path for them and then they like following the path and scratching in the snow...
     
  8. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Lot's of time, before the snow flies to expand their arrangement. I find the birds need a considerable amount of room during the long, snow packed days of winter. Our birds have never enjoyed the snow, while other folks report their's don't seem to mind as much. I'd bet on them NOT liking it too awful much. Bare feet and all. LOL
     
  9. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL yea I agree.. Not all of mine will walk around in my shoveled paths and the ones who do dont stay out long. I keep mine in a coop that is large so they have room in there if its cold or rainy.
     
  10. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm kinda worried about the wire mesh floor. Lots of folks in cold areas insulate the floors with lots of extra bedding to hold body heat and keep their chickens feet from getting frost bite. Metal conducts cold and heat. Can you cover that mesh with something in the winter...maybe a big piece of vinyl flooring...and add some pine shavings?
     

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