I'm having a really annoying winter issue!!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by ChickyMomm, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. ChickyMomm

    ChickyMomm In the Brooder

    Oct 9, 2013
    Hello everyone, I'd like some help or suggestions on sometimes. Right now in New England, we've been having almost nonstop snow for a little over a month now, and my whole living area for the girls has turned into an absolute disaster. I have no way at all to shovel the 3' of snow in the run, so they have nowhere to go but the coop, and underneath it (since the snow didn't get under it. It's a coop that stands on large legs that are about 3 feet high). I can't get my wheelbarrel into the run so I haven't been able to get in and clean the coop since maybe mid-January.

    At first I was trudging my way in with just a bag of shavings and putting some shaving in every once in a while so the hens wouldn't be sitting on their poop, but now our gate has literally be messed up so bad from the weather that the part where the bottom plank attatched to the hinges has detatched itself and now it can't close properly. We had to leave it like that, and now it's officially frozen and we tried more times than I can count to get it unstuck. We're currently using an old dog collar (Which was also saturated in water then the snow started melting, and then also froze too...[​IMG]) to keep the gate closed. Since the gate is stuck like that, I can no longer get in to give the hens water or food. I've been throwing feed over the fence and just hope they go after it. Thankfully, they've figure out that: Eating snow=hydration.

    This here is a picture of the way we're keeping the gate locked. Normally we use the metal lock, but we can't even close the gate entirely at the moment.

    This is how they spend their time during the day, going in and out of the coop, and underneath the part that wasn't snowed in. Sometimes they are even brave enough to walk around in the snow, but they usually freak out when they start sinking in it and flap back to the coop.

    This is as far as we could get the gate to close, and now we're just hoping the snow melts soon so we can fix it. I've tried kicking the door open myself, but it didn't work.

    I need to know if what I'm doing is acceptable or not for now, because I'm feeling extremely helpless and out of options, and also feeling like a horrible person for now being able to clean the coop or properly take care of my hens because of this stupid snow! I also am unable to shovel or chip at the ice (I tried), so I just pray my hens can figure out how to keep themselves going until I can find out how to make things work.
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Free Ranging

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP You are trying your best. Now here are my thoughts.....
    Don't worry about cleaning up. When time comes . you will.

    Keep giving your chickens food. Try to give them scratch or seeds, since you have to throw it to them. Layer or starter crumbles get caked up when in touch with wet.

    Snow will provide chickens with water.

    Now as to trying to open gate so you can access., try putting a batch of salt to melt ice. You said that you tried to chip away. I know its not easy. I encounter similar situation when I cant open my storm door from ice build up on drive. I go outside thru different door and apply salt. Works but takes a little time to happen.

    Just look at the calendar, and you know this nasty winter is over soon.

  3. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    The problems that you are having now is why I have dutch doors into my runs.

    the bottom part are wood planks held up by two T-posts. Those can be slid out of their holders so that you can bring in a wheelbarrow or whatever.

    Only the top part swings open like a door.

    I would cut your door in half (yes, difficult because you used some wonderful chain link fencing, but still possible with the correct tools).

    You can just cut off the frozen in the ground part, or cut off the bottom third. some scrap wood screwed together will make a temporary edge to the new door parts.

    You can make it pretty in the summer when things un-thaw.

    Good luck! [​IMG]
  4. Curlyginger

    Curlyginger Chirping

    Jun 14, 2014
    I'm in Massachusetts, too. Winter has been brutal this year. I've had some trouble with my run door, but have happily been able to chip away and get it to open/close. On the plus side, it was warm today (possibly good for digging out the door). Although there is now a big wet puddle in the run. Sigh.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Why I've been shoveling constantly for the months of January and February...keeping that run door and part of the run itself accessible to me and the chooks.
    It won't be long and you'll be able to shovel it clear.

    I'd be very leery of using salt, the chickens might eat it...not good for them at all.
    1 person likes this.
  6. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Songster

    Dec 15, 2014
    I'm in MA, not too far from Worcester "The Snowiest City in the Country" with over 90" of snowfall this year. I haven't stopped digging since the blizzard in January. Seriously, not one day goes by that I don't shovel something. Luckily we have a snowblower that has helped with the brunt of it, so I'm very glad to say that I'm not in your position. I do feel for you though. Spring can't come soon enough. As for your door, could you take it off the hinges and pull it straight up out of the snow? That might be easier than trying to clear it free enough to swing open.
  7. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Enabler

    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    This is why my door swings outward. I cannot imagine the frustration you are feeling.

    I too caution about the ice melt. I have read up on it since my run door is on the north side of the run and a sheet of ice sometimes forms there. NOT a good idea to use ice melt.

    How about a propane torch like for burning weeds. It may melt you free. Just be very careful not to start the run on fire.

    I vote for the dutch door on the run if you can break free before July.
  8. Northern nurse

    Northern nurse In the Brooder

    May 2, 2014
    I live in northern Maine so I'm very familiar with the snow issue. Not a lot you can do right now but wait for it to melt but think about planning for next winter while the warm summer breezes are blowing. Does your run have a roof? If not, is that something that could be added? I covered my run in plastic last fall and that has kept the snow out of the run and given the girls a dry (albeit frozen) area to move around in. One thing I am hoping to change on my run this year is making the door swing into the coop as I have had to be very diligent about shoveling the snow away enough after every storm to be able to open and close it, you might want to think about that if you are able to cover your wire fencing to keep the snow out. Good luck, a few more weeks and things should be improving!
  9. yellowchicks

    yellowchicks Chirping

    Jun 27, 2014
    My Coop
    I don't know how high your fence is or if there is any netting on top, but let's "MacGyver" something by creating a temporary feeder and and landing pad near the coop inside the fence.

    You will need to pre-drill all the holes, pre-fit this contraction, and pre-tie some zip tie loops before tying it with a long rope and throw it over the fence. Use a PVC pipe that can fit through the fence hole as a funnel to refill the feeder. The feeder can be a container with a lid to keep the feed dry. Drill a hole on the back side to insert the PVC pipe, drill a "window" on the front side for the chickens to stick their heads in to eat. Secure the setup to the fence where it is accessible to you and close enough for the chickens to fly over. Sprinkle some treats on the landing pad so they know to head over.

    This contraction should be light weight enough for you to pull it up to shake off new snow. You can do something similar for the water feeder but prepare to hoist and switch out a solid chunk of ice everyday. Your chickens seem pretty resourceful by eating snow and getting by. As soon as it is warm enough, make a human jail break to go rescue the chickens! Good luck!

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