First Winter - Minnesota

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Headers Hen House, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Headers Hen House

    Headers Hen House Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 20, 2017
    Minneapolis, MN

    We got a a blue orpington and chocolate cuckoo orpington over the summer and we're now going into our first winter. I built the coop below and it's been working great so far. I put vents above the floor board to get some air flow and plexiglass over the windows, they roost right next to the windows (you can see one in the pic where they roost, vents are not pictured). The run is on bottom with a ramp going up into the middle of the coop. However, the girls are free range and I keep the run gate open all the time for them to go in our backyard that has 7 foot fencing all around.

    Yesterday it was about 15 degrees and fairly windy. They didn't leave the coop all day, which was the first time they've ever done that. This morning, it's been 18 degrees but not as windy. They came out and explored a little bit, but I noticed their feet were getting really cold. In the fall windy days, they like to hang out in the window wells to get out of the wind. So I put some shavings in there today and they ran right in there and started to huddle. I also put some petroleum jelly on their combs because i hear that helps with frostbite, etc.

    We got them in August and they're around that 6 month age, but never laid any eggs before winter started. I'll assume we won't see any until Spring but i'll keep my fingers crossed. I have a couple nesting boxes in the coop but all they do is collect poop because the girls roost above them and poop drops in them. I put food in the coop for them yesterday when they didnt leave, but usually i have a hanging feeder on a tree that they use. I also have a heated dog bowl for the water.

    My questions:
    - What can i do to keep them happy in the winter? They don't like hanging cabbages
    - What should I do about the nesting boxes? Keep them in there collecting poop or introduce them later
    - I heard that I should make paths for them in the snow and lay hay/straw for them because their feet can get cold?
    - Minnesota can get very cold, whats the magic temp number for a heat lamp/pad? I haven't introduced them to one yet but I know there will be days below 0 coming.
    - Food inside or outside coop?

    Any feedback is greatly appreciated!!!!
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    To start off, I see that you need bigger openings.
  3. Headers Hen House

    Headers Hen House Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 20, 2017
    Minneapolis, MN
    Can you elaborate? On the right side of the picture, there's a door that swivels up and down. From there is where I can pull out the floor bed and clean it out then slide it back in. That's usually closed though.
  4. jthornton

    jthornton Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 30, 2017
    Poplar Bluff, MO
    My Coop
    You need 1 square foot of draft free ventilation per bird so the moisture can leave.

  5. Headers Hen House

    Headers Hen House Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 20, 2017
    Minneapolis, MN
    The picture is not an updated one, I have 2 vents on each side about 5 inches above the floor board. Do i need more? maybe up top?
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    If you only have 2 birds you might be OK. I definitely agree with straw paths on the snow so they can move about.
  7. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    1. My method for dealing with winter is quite simple one extra feeder of whole corn. I live in Canada subject to -40º. I have 67 trips around the sun. I have raised various types of chickens and birds for decades.

      TLC still has to be provided to birds that may not be adapting well to the diet. For the most part birds are vocal happy and do just fine. NO HEAT NO EXTRA LIGHT please and thank you works fine for me and my flock.

      If for any reason you find it necessary to supply electricity to your coop via extension cord.

      Please employ a "Ground Fault Outlet" also use a "Safety Chain" in conjunction to any heat lamp or incandescent bulb after mounting.
      One coop fire is too many and these precautions could be the difference.

      A simple action such as a rodent chewing on your extension cord could be the cause of a coop fire and a ground fault circuit could be the difference in witnessing your coop in tack or a pile of smoldering ash.


      P.S. There are now a variety of ground fault extension cords available in major retail centers that also would be a wise investment.



  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That's a mighty small coop, especially if the pop door is in the floor taking up floor space, for even two birds. A good sized covered run, with walls mostly covered in plastic or panels to keep wind and snow out, would be a good idea to get thru winter.

    Not sure how the roost can be above the nests and get pooped in<scratcheshead>.
    I'd bet they are sleeping in the nests.
    Can you even open the coop to get in there, or just the sliding floor to clean?
    rosemarythyme likes this.
  9. smschiller08

    smschiller08 Just Hatched

    Jul 29, 2016
    A079855B-BF61-4C69-ACBD-2277F31E9391.jpeg Our snowbirds have done well their first winter in Northern MN. We are also snowbirding in Mexico! has worked well after wrapping control box in insulation and enclosing with 75W lightbulb on a timer. Otherwise it froze up.

    Ladies are checked on a few times weekly for food/water and treats! Their coop and “inside” run is enclosed with King Canopy carport. Dry and no wind. Outside run accessed through a flap curtain has a roof. Plenty of straw inside and out.

    My concern although they are protected are fox since there is very little activity around while we’re gone. Coop cam keeps me posted but they are hollerin sometimes either for treats or because a Fox is close.

    Temps have dropped to -5F inside coop but deicer submerged and electric cable around nipples are working great. And they still step outside in -30 outside.

    Neighbor tries to collect eggs but many have froze. She also rakes the poop shelf on warmer days.
    Coop was insulated and trying deep litter method this year. Believe I will have lots of cleaning to do in the spring.

    Wasn’t sure we could leave the tundra for 2 months but so far so good. Just run an ad: ISO chicken sitter.

    They also love a bowl of warm oatmeal on those super frigid days!
  10. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    1 & 3) I use a suet cage and put in a flock block if weather is especially bad for a stretch of time. You could also give them a pile of hay, dried leaves, etc for them to scratch through just outside the coop - if they spread it out that would also help give them a surface to walk on over the snow.

    2) As Aart mentioned I'm thinking they're pooping in the nest box because they're sleeping in it. If that's the case then I would either remove or cover the box until they are ready to start laying. If you really do have your roost positioned over the box though, you either need to move the roost or the box, or reconfigure the top of the box so that the poop can't just land inside or roll inside.

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