electrcity free ways to keep hens cozy in the northern climates

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by annmarie, Dec 5, 2007.

  1. annmarie

    annmarie Songster

    Nov 20, 2007
    I was wondering if we could share some ideas about keeping our feathered friends happy and warm though what's turning out to look like a long, cold winter here in New England, anyway. And the catch... no electricity allowed! I woke up this morning to see that it was 8, yes, 8 degrees out. My three hardy hens do not have the luxury of electricy in their coop and I'm constantly trying to come up with ideas to make the winter a little less harsh on them. At this point, the routine, for whenever the forecast is for less than 25 degrees, is they get their combs and wattles coated in petroleum jelly, a few handfuls of scratch in the evening and first thing in the morning, deep litter bedding, and on the weekends, warm bowls of oatmeal for breakfast or a late day snack. Hubby and I have been brainstorming ideas that could make life a little easier on them. One idea he mentioned this morning is constructing some kind of enclosure that we could put them in the downstairs bathroom, (where they were raised!) for some of the coldest nights of the year (sub-zero). Does that sound crazy? Does anyone have experience with having chickens in the house for a night? Would they be miserable, or glad to be in a warmer place? Clever ideas, please!
  2. annmarie

    annmarie Songster

    Nov 20, 2007
    No takers?[​IMG] Have I stumped all you clever chicken owners? All right, here's another unual idea. Has anyone ever tried clothing their chickens in any way? [​IMG] Sounds strange, I know, but I'm a knitter, and have wondered if creating some kind of little tube type head covering that I could put on them at night to protect their combs, wattles, and keep their necks warm couldn't make them more comfortable. When you're done laughing, let me know what you think. Has anyone tried anything like this before?
  3. nccountrygirl

    nccountrygirl Songster

    Jul 31, 2007
    Sanford N.C.
    you seem to be doing all that you can short of running power to the coop. Good luck and maybe someone else will come along that can help more than me.
  4. peepsnbunnies

    peepsnbunnies Songster

    Mar 31, 2007
    Central Florida
    Hey... I like the idea of knitting a little neckwarmer! I think it would be cute too. I have Showgirls (they have a naked neck) so it has crossed my mind to take some of my DH and DS old tube socks and cut the foot of and put it over their heads if it gets too cold. But where I live in FL, it only gets down in the 30's and a few times in the 20's. Who knows, you may want to make some and start selling them to fellow BYCer's who live in cold climates. For something to go over the back of a chicken and stay in place, you may want to look at how a chicken saddle is made and do something similar. [​IMG]

  5. TxChiknRanchers

    TxChiknRanchers Songster

    Aug 18, 2007
    Southeast Texas
    Did you see the hats the DW made for our BO's. J/K

    Hats might not stay on. but you could try it. the bathroom thing may work, after all at night all they do is roost/sleep, and then you could get them back out to spend the day in the coop. If it is too cold for that, heck there are folks here that put diapers on their chickens, go figure!

    Good luck,
  6. peepsnbunnies

    peepsnbunnies Songster

    Mar 31, 2007
    Central Florida
    Cute hats Randy!
  7. Flufnstuffs~FluffySilkies

    Flufnstuffs~FluffySilkies Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Yes that is a hard one, I have one tip listed below.
    I do have limited electricity in both my coops
    One regular light bulb to see with 100 watt because even with the windows
    it is still dark in the coops. And I have one double plug in each coop.
    So I can have one electric bowl and one heat light to a brooder.
    Improving/upgrading the electric is not an option for me.

    I had a big problem because I have show silkies and keep them seperated by color in pens, I have 12 pens.
    That 12 waterers.
    2 winters ago my dad passed away and I had to drive 3 hours early in the morning to go be with my mom.
    My doughter would drive back home at night late because we had so many birds. and the water would freeze solid every few hours. she would stay home 4 days then come get me I would leave her there for 2 days then we would swap again we did this for 3 months. What I did that helped on the driving days because there would be no one here for about 14 hours is I bought hand warmers and put them under the red base of my waterers it acually worked keeping the water from freezing.
    They work in an emergency.
    Now every summer if I see them on clearence I pick them up.
    PS MOM no longer lives at her house
    She left in the spring to stay with me and now my sisters and I take turns having her at our homes.
    ITS great I have her about 10 days a month.
    Its been 2 years and she will never go home.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2007
  8. HenHaven

    HenHaven Songster

    Mar 3, 2007
    Coarsegold, CA
    You could make chicken saddles for them. I know Speckledhen has a saddle on her BR, Lexie, because she is going through a hard molt.

    How large is the area they roost in? Do they perch or huddle? If you could partially enclose the perch area to create a smaller area for their body heat to collect, that would help. I have a back, top, and sides around my perches. It is kind of a wierd set up. It is a large wooden "hutch" divided into 4 quadrants. 3 quadrants have perches and one is for the huddlers.

    I read somewhere (don't quote me), LOL, that each chicken produces something like 2 BTUs. So if you can create a smaller area for them, they will keep themselves warm.
  9. annmarie

    annmarie Songster

    Nov 20, 2007
    These are all such great ideas! Thank you everyone. I'm going to get started on knitting some kind of head and neck warmer this weekend. This should be fun! [​IMG] If I come up with anything I'll share the pattern. I'm hoping for a digital camera for Christmas so if Santa comes through for me, I'll post some pictures with an update on whether or not they're working out. The chicken saddle is another good idea I hadn't thought of. Hats too, would be fun, but I'd have to think up some design that would stay on. Perhaps a ski-mask type design? Oh gosh this is too funny! And the handwarmers under the waterers, brilliant! I never would have thought of that. I'm going to try that the next time I'm concerned about their water freezing over while I'm at work. As for their coop (aka fortress), it's already quite small, 10 square feet I guess, with only about a foot between their heads and the ceiling, when they're on their perch. I believe they do crank out a few BTU's a piece because when I lock them up in there for the night, the temperature always rises.
    All right, lunch break is over. Thanks again to everyone who has responded so far! Keep the ideas coming!
  10. carugoman

    carugoman Songster

    Nov 8, 2007
    NW FL Crestview
    When I was stationed in upstate New York 30 some odd years ago,I had observed a few farmers that kept their small,but very well insulated,greenhouses warm with active compost piles. Chicken poo played an important part because of the high ammonia content kept the pile burning hot?

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