Looking for Winter Advice- What do you wish you had known

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mom 2em All, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. Mom 2em All

    Mom 2em All Songster

    Apr 20, 2008
    Southeast Michigan
    I am looking for winter time advice, tips, etc. I am trying to prepare my yard and coop, my routine, etc. for the cold hard winter that cometh...lol. I live in Michigan, and while it is summer now- I don't remember a Halloween where it was not cold and rainy or cold and snowy. Winter lasts forever here.

    I thought perhaps we could start a thread here with winter tips and things the experienced chicken keepers have learned that they wish they had known their first winter.

    For example- I worry about mud and slush and I have wondered if sand would be easier, or wood chips- around the coop. I'd love to have thick grass however, the chickens think it is much better to eat grass seed.

  2. rooster0209

    rooster0209 Songster

    Apr 7, 2008
    North Dakota
    I had round perches last year for the guineas. One lost two toes from frost bite. [​IMG] I read here to use 2x4 instead. I have replaced all the round ones.

    I live in ND and it gets pretty cold here too. I would like some advice too
  3. Good Idea for suggestions....

    I have thought of this every once in awhile...Winters are cold here too...

    One thing I picked up mid winter was.....a heated water bowl for the birds...That was a life saver in the fact that I didn't need to chip ice everyday (sometimes 2 or 3 times a day). Plus it saved on the water dishes too....

    The bedding for the inside the chicken coop floor was another thing I learned the long way....
    I started out with straw....Wood shavings were a god send...Much easier to shovel out when time to clean it....

    I am sure I will think of more....But those are the top 2 for now I can think of....

  4. rooster0209

    rooster0209 Songster

    Apr 7, 2008
    North Dakota
    Oh yes, definately the heated dish. Can not live without that!
  5. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    I'm glad you started this post. I'm going to be reading every reply. Thanks!
  6. BowChickaBowMow

    BowChickaBowMow Songster

    May 16, 2008
    Northern Michigan
    Thanks for posting this topic. I'm in Northern MI, and this will be my first winter w/ chicks.

    I thought I read somewhere that using the deep littler method works well to produce some heat from composting. Anyone know if this is the case? Or did I get a composting thread mixed up in my mind w/ a deep littler thread? haha! (it's been known to happen)

    I was also looking into some sort of solar heating options. Something that could be built, not bought.
  7. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Another vote for the heated water bowl as the best invention ever. Used to spend 45 minutes daily defrosting waterers. Now, 2 minutes to run in the house and get a milk jug full of water, hike out to the barn and pour.

    They liked the panel heater and they all roost next to it, but honestly, it drove our electric bill up something fierce. Now I only plug it in on reeeeeeaaaaally cold nights--like, mid-20s or lower.

    Also, insulate with straw bales. Just stack 'em up along the walls.

    I didn't find that Vaseline on combs/wattles made any difference whatsoever. The ones that were dutifully greased got just as frostbitten, if not more, than the ones I couldn't catch. So I would say, just get breeds that are known to be cold-hardy with small combs. If you feel you must grease your chickens, I'm warning you, it feels...weird. Especially when they settle down and start enjoying it...

    Also don't expect that breeds will behave true to nature: My Cochins with their fluffy feet hate the snow and won't leave the coop if there's snow on the ground. The Buttercups, small chickens with giant double combs and huge wattles, flapped right out into the snow and had a blast despite the cold. Go figure.
  8. Mom 2em All

    Mom 2em All Songster

    Apr 20, 2008
    Southeast Michigan
    Thanks so far- but I have a question.
    The heated waterbowl- are you all refering to a heated dog bowl? I did a search for a chicken waterer that was heated, but the closest I came was to a heated rabbit water bottle.


    Oh! If you are using a bowl? Don't your chickens stand in it/walk in it/etc?
  9. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Mine didn't. But my chickens seem to be very dainty, they keep their feet fairly clean and hate it when I touch their toes. So mine might be an exception.
  10. BayCityBabe

    BayCityBabe Songster

    May 1, 2008
    Regarding waterers:
    There are all-in-one units, as well as heated bases on which to place a metal waterer. I have seen them in supply catalogs and at our local mill. They are about $50. Seems like a fair investment.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: