Help With Chicken Coop Winterizing and Keeping The Girls Happy, Heathy, & Safe This Winter

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lizardboy55, Nov 21, 2014.

  1. lizardboy55

    lizardboy55 Songster

    Jun 13, 2011
    Hello Fellow BYC Members,

    This is my first winter with my girls (chickens) and also my first time raising and keeping chickens as well. I have just a few questions about how to keep them safe, healthy, and happy during these very cold upcoming months.

    - How can I keep my water in the coop from freezing without a heater? I'm not a fan of having these heaters in the coop like this nor have I had the luck either.
    - What is a cheap, easy, and made from household objects way to make electrolytes?
    - What exactly does Apple Cider Vinegar have to do with the health of my girls? Does it help keep the water unfrozen longer? I know it will rot metal but will it rot stainless steal?
    - How do I hang the cabbage head in my run for the girls to play with? I hear it gives them something to do because they have nothing else to do since of all the snow.
    - If I do have to use a heater, how do I make an inexpensive one out of a cookie tin?
    - I have a 40 watt bulb in their coop for light to keep egg production up. Would it be a fire hazard to put a 75 watt bulb in there for extra heat? I know they don't need heat but will it keep the temperature in the coop above 32 degrees fahrenheit to keep the water unfrozen? The coop it a 4ft by 3ft.

    I thank you all so much in advance for your help to even one question.

    Warm Regards,
  2. Toddrick

    Toddrick Songster

    Sep 28, 2014
    It is my first winter too, but I'll try and answer your questions best I can. I would splurge and get a heated waterer, but don't see anything wrong with a cookie tin heater, except for the wasted electricity. My heated waterer works great, and I'm so glad I inherited it with my little flock.

    I've wondered about the cabbage hanging too. I guess I would use an old onion bag or similar, to hang it in, so they could peck through the netting, unless someone suggests a better way. I will try it sooner or later, but for now I just put feed and scratch inside the coop for them to snack on.

    Oh BTW, I think it is definitely helpful to put a lot more bedding in the coop over the winter, and clean or simply turn it regularly. My chickens seem to like to lay and walk on the bedding on windy days instead of leaving the coop.

    ACV just increases the acidity (ph) of the water, which is supposed to help the chickens keep parasites in check I believe. It may also have some probiotic benefits. You need to use a plastic waterer if you are adding ACV.

    As for electrolytes, I hear you can use Pedialyte or even Gatorade, but it seems expensive that way. I use Rooster Booster powder, the kind that also includes probiotics--it only costs like $6 and should last years, since I only need about a half teaspoon each refill.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    1. Without electricity there isn't much you can do in sub-zero temperatures. Most people either use heated water bowls, make their own heaters, like cookie tin heaters, or spend a lot of time breaking ice and carrying water to the coop.

    2. Electrolytes recipe: 1 cup water, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda. Mix one cup per gallon into their drinking water.

    3. AVC aids nutrient absorption, helps prevent pasty butt in chicks, help prevent coccidiosis and I've been told it helps chickens del with stress. I've started using it with my flock and saw an increase in egg production, so I'm a fan :) It corrodes most if not all metals as far as I know, so rather play it safe and use in a plastic waterer.

    4. Just suspend it securely with a piece of string from the roof, or put it loose on the floor for them. Apples are also a fun and popular treat, as is anything in a pile that they can scratch in, especially if you mix some scratch grains into that pile ;)


    6. Anything electrical in the coop can be a fire hazard. So you have to be very careful how you install things. Here are some tips and precautions: Personally, unless I have sick or weak birds, or chicks, I do not add supplemental heat to the coop. Most chickens really do not need it.

    Here is some more info and tips on getting chickens through winter:
  4. lizardboy55

    lizardboy55 Songster

    Jun 13, 2011
    Thank you guys so much. I do have electric in my coop and I agree it is very helpful.
  5. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Crowing

    Jan 27, 2014
    Central Oregon

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