Expanding winter quarters...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by biddyboo, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. biddyboo

    biddyboo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    Ashland, Missouri
    We have a variety of fifteen standard-sized hens in a raised 4 X 6 coop in which they only sleep and lay. Four covered nest boxes project from one of the 6' sides. The opposite side is up against our metal-sided barn. I keep their feeder and waterer under the coop and that's where they tend to congregate in bad weather, declining the indoor shelter of their coop! The two 4' ends are doors that fully open for summer breezes. I figure we need to cut a pop door in the south end to cut down on wide open areas this winter. The coop has one 3" X 5' ventilation strip just above the nest boxes and is covered with hardware cloth. (It doesn't have a method to close this off; will we need to in bad weather? The metal roof comes down over it.) We have one 5' long 2 X 4 roost inside suspended from the roof and their bedding is a 6-8" deep litter of pine shavings. I clean/stir the litter daily to reduce wet/odor. The coop sits in a fenced 20' X 20' "play yard" that we surfaced with 4-5" of small gravel for drainage. This area is raked weekly to keep down odor and pooh buildup.
    Now, for winter: none of the outdoor area is protected by cover except the space under the coop. My idea (which everyone in the family picks apart!) is to cut a little pop door under the coop into the barn, opening from the barn side so I can access it, and opening into a run area that I'll partition from the rest of the barn with dog kennel panels, one with a walk-in door so I can get into the enclosure. I may put additional roosts in this area and I'll cover the concrete floor with pine shavings to give them a deep area for warmth and dryness. I'll keep this stirred and hope I can get by with "deep litter method" until spring. I will have a 5 gallon waterer in this area on a heated base and I'll move their feeder inside this area as well. I've even considered establishing a few nest boxes in here for the winter, for my convenience! I may wrap the kennel panels in chicken wire if it seems to need the extra security. I can make this indoor area whatever size I want with the panels. Perhaps just 10 X10 (3 panels, one with walk-in door) or I could lengthen it to 10 X 20. I see this as temporary for winter, knocked down for the summer when the hens would be back to their outdoor backyard life. Their sleeping quarters with current nest boxes would continue to be their outdoor coop for winter sleeping. Other threads on the forum assure me that they can live through the winter in a small coop for sleeping. I see this as giving them someplace out of the sleet, ice, snow, or chilling rain that we have here in mid Missouri in winter. Questions I have: 1. How to support the dog kennel panels on the concrete floor. My thought...secure the panels at a joining corner to 6" wood corner posts. Would this support the panels to hold together? 2. Will the hens adapt to this outdoor/indoor life style through the winter? Has anyone else done something like this? I'd hate to do all this and then see them huddled out in the sleet, declining to go through the pop door into the dry barn pen. 3. If the hens have spent time indoors during the bad weather days, will they, on their own, return to their coop at night, as they do after free ranging? 4. All the other questions I don't even know to ask but trust all of you readers to ask them for me and then tell me how to deal with them! Thanks so much from a fairly new newbie here on the forum. ~G
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think you will find these changes very satisfactory and there are a couple of comprehensive winter threads in this section now for you to consider. We roofed our run at the beginning and I have always been thrilled at having the dry space, year round. The coop itself is big enough that I can keep the hens there comfortably if things get very nasty outdoors, but I find that they prefer to have the pop door open- tough little girls.[​IMG]

    About the kennel structure- very important that you find a way to minimize access to 1/2" for predator protection. It might involve modifying any gaps, which I know wil be tricky.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2009

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