Coop and Run in winter time

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by brwneggs, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. brwneggs

    brwneggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 21, 2010
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    I have never had chickens (Iza Browns) in the winter. We made a shed (like a lean two roof) this summer. Insulated, cement floor, window with screen and a pull up-drop down door at night with a rope and pulleys. Its about 52 degrees in there all the time. We have a heat lamp, two light bulbs and a floor heater. I have wood shavings on the floor. We have no roost, did not have to time to make one, so I put two wood planks down on the floor. They do not want to lay in the two boxes we have (have 6 of them) so they fashion a nest out of the wood chips and lay the same place everyday. It does not stink, its aired out pretty good with a screen over the tool shed door (halk coop/half my dads tool shed). I take a pitch fork and turn the chips everyday. They have a nice big run. Covered half of it with a tarp. Its now snowing, and the run has snow in it. The girls will not go out. I hope I am doing everything right. They just dont like the cold. Is it ok if they go out? Why dont they go out? We put a lot of money and time into this coop. Please tell me if I am doing ok, and if I need to do something else. I was thinking of tarping the whole run. But that takes some money. Thank you!
     
  2. robk0220

    robk0220 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 12, 2010
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    In some aspects, I think chickens are really really dumb. For example, ours will go outside and refuse to go back in their coop until sunset during a complete downpour. The absolutely love being out in the rain. However, last week we had a very small snow flurry, just enough to change the grass white, and they absolutely refused to leave their coop. I can't even begin to figure them out.

    Ours have the taj-mahal of coops, and it's under a tree so there is no snow right outside but they still refused to go out. Don't worry about doing it right, they're not picky. I'm hoping ours get over their snow fear and go out, or I may be out there with a broom to push them once we get some real snow… [​IMG]
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Fifty two degrees? Seriously??

    You are using WAY WAY WAY too much electric heat there, IMHO [​IMG] Not only is it wasteful and expensive, it is also an unnecessary fire hazard. I'd suggest turning it all off until-and-unless you get REAL cold weather in, like, January.

    ISA Browns are reasonably cold hardy as they do not have excessively large combs (my first three chickens were ISA Browns, actually). If you can keep the coop dry and draft free you should for absolute sure be fine down to around 20 F and quite likely a good deal lower than that.

    When and if you *do* genuinely need to add heat, I would suggest trying to heat the chickens rather than the whole coop [​IMG] -- it is more economical and SAFER. Just set up somewhere they can go to warm up if they feel in need of it -- a safely rigged lamp (may well not need to be a *heatlamp*, regular wattage lightbulb/s may suffice) or some other small localized source of warmth.

    You can usually train them to use the nestbox by putting a fake nestegg in there and checking FREQUENTLY for the first few days/weeks so you can relocate their newly-laid eggs to the nestbox. If they continue to not use the nestbox at all after a week or so you should evaluate whether the nestbox is sufficiently easy for them to get to and sufficiently appealing.

    An actual roost would make it easier to keep the coop clean and would allow you to use a droppings board if you wish; and a roost is SUPER easy to make; but if you and they are happy with the boards-on-the-floor arrangement then I see no harm in it.

    Watch out with that tarp over half the run -- it is likely to collapse in snow and may take your run structure with it. Needs to be either removed or engineered like an actual roof.

    Chiefly I suspect they are not going out into the run because a) they are used to semitropical temperatures in the coop and b) snow looks weird. Chickens are often hinky about snow the first <some number of> times they see it. Too bad, so sad, chuck 'em out the door and they will get used to it [​IMG] Putting down some straw or leaves atop the snow can also help them get over their snow-phobia, as can putting some of their favorite food out there when you manually put 'em thru the door. (I'm assuming they were going outdoors before?)

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  4. brwneggs

    brwneggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 21, 2010
    Northern Indiana
    Thank you to both of your replys.
    I guess I spoil those little chicks. I love them and try to take the best care of them.
    Question: I turn the heat lamp off, will their water freeze?
    I also have about 6 inchs of wood chips in there.
    I have tried the fake egg trick- no can do. So if I just pick up one their eggs after laying and put it in the box, they may get the idea?
    I also just placed, the size of a kitty little box, of play sand out in the coop, and their was mass hysteria! They all wanted to get it at once, which they will have to learn to take turns.
    And this morning, I saw one of the hens laying an egg!! It was wonderful! I did not know really how they layed them.
    I also have their feed mixed with grit and shell- is that ok?
    Thank you thank you...you will never know how much I am learning and feeling more comfortable with the girls.
     
  5. brwneggs

    brwneggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 21, 2010
    Northern Indiana
    Tarp Covering on run-
    Oh yea, we have chicken wire and that heavy thick fence on the run roof, plus the arch that was built. Hope that will be sufficent.
     
  6. robk0220

    robk0220 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 12, 2010
    Wapwallopen, PA.
    Don't feel bad, our coop has electric, running water (hooked up to an automatic watering system), and heat (45-50 degrees) (but mostly because we have a few new little ones in there, and to keep the water from freezing)…
     
  7. swimmer

    swimmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Utah
    As for the snow. Ours do not go out into the snow. Sometimes they will try and fly to the nearest bush, but usually don't make it. We have about 35 inches of snow on the ground. So if they don't make it to the bush and land in the deep snow, they can't get out. So I don't even open their run door. They would be hawk bait for sure if they got stuck in the snow and couldn't get out.
     
  8. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I suspect it's not the cold that's keeping them from going into the run, but the snow...the look of it, looks strange, new and therefore scary. Last winter our tiny bantams were not bothered by daytime temps in the twenties. They acted no differently than they usually do out in their roofed run. However, we did get snow one day, and even though there was no snow inside their roofed run, just the look of it on the ground all around the run completely freaked them out.

    I'd be very worried to have a floor heater in a coop with wood shavings on the floor. Yikes! As others have noted, adult chickens don't really need to be housed at 52 degrees (unless they're sick or there are other special circumstances). Even my tiny bantams (some of which weigh in at only about a pound) handle temperatures much lower than this with no muss or fuss.
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Yup, I realize that [​IMG], I'm just saying that what you *think* is best care and what is ACTUALLY best for them can be two different things [​IMG]

    Question: I turn the heat lamp off, will their water freeze?

    When indoor (coop) temperature drops to 32 F, then yes of course it will... slowly... but keeping the whole coop above freezing is NOT a great way of trying to prevent that.

    Best strategy is to either LET it freeze and just replace it with fresh water one or more times per day; or get a heated waterer or heated waterer base.

    This will use FAR less wattage, and represent far less fire hazard, than having heatlamps and other appliances goin' like the blazes.

    I have tried the fake egg trick- no can do.

    ?? Sorry, I am not understanding.

    I also have their feed mixed with grit and shell- is that ok?

    It's probably better to offer each separately, as it makes it much easier for them to balance their intake... but chickens are generally pretty good at identifying and picking out different type particles so it is probably not the end of the world to offer 'em all mixed together. Another reason why separate is better is that it makes it a lot easier for you to see which needs to be topped up; otherwise it could be hard to tell that (say) they've picked out all the oystershell. But, it is not a huge deal.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  10. cottage19

    cottage19 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 20, 2010
    Eastern PA
    I have thrown in the proverbial towel and have given up trying to figure my chickens out. Usually they love the rain but today they decided they didn't love the rain and stayed in most of the day. When I went out to tidy up the coop (which is attached to the barn) they decided they watnted to join in and were totally underfoot as I changed their water, shook up the bedding and did my other usual chores. Although it was pouring here, it was quite warm so I did some barn chores as well - all the girls kept me company and had a grand time searching the nooks and crannies in the barn - no doubt hoping to catch a mouse or scare the cat.
     

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