Managing your flock in the winter


7 Years
Apr 23, 2012
Ontario Canada
Hello this is a thread for sharing ideas about managing our winter flock problems. Please feel free to add your own problems about your winter coop and us byc'ers as I would think would help take care of that problem for you.

Ok my problem for my winter coop is on many levels my first being that my winter coop is in an old barn grainery, which means the coop is on a second floor of an UNinsulated 102 year old barn.( don't get me wrong the barn has no structural issues at all ) And since its on a second floor you can't insulate the floor. So my question was if a thick layer of (STRAW) bedding (NOT HAY) on the floor would be helpful for the warmth of the coop and be helpful for the chickens ?.

My second problem is that I have two different sizes of birds, LF and bantam so since the grainery has removable sections like little rooms on each side when you walk in. Should I separate little groups from the flock? And put them in each section or just take the dividers out and let them do there own thing? I do want to keep the flock as intact as possible but I don't want any uncontrolled breeding so my thought was just to take the roosters out and put them into 1 pen possibly 2 pens. But if there in the same pens they will fight. And I'm not will to start selling my roosters. WHAT SHOULD I DO!!
Sorry, I'm pretty new to raising chickens so I have no ideas for you, but I do have a question also. We have a small coop with an enclosed 4x12' run. We did not insulate the coop and are not planning on using heat this winter (we are in northern Illinois). When the chickens are in the coop for the night, will they still sleep on the roosting bars if it is very cold (close to 0 or below), or will they dig down in the bedding and sleep on the floor? We've already had some night temps in the 20's and so far they're still sleeping on the roost bars, but I would need to add a thicker layer of bedding on the floor if they were to sleep there for more warmth. Thanks in advance for any input!
Growing up there were a couple of converted granaries near by. One of them had a layer of cement on the floor to protect the wood. Not saying you should, just reporting. I was thinking of converting the one in my barn, but there is no way to make a run from the second floor.
The deep litter method makes a fine layer of insulation the floor. Straw will work for the bedding, but if it gets damp it tends to form a solid layer. I think wood shavings will work just as well, and they have less tendency to solidify. But if straw if cheaper use that and get the birds to help keep it loose by throwing scratch around.

A frame and chicken wire dividers will allow them to retain some sense of being one flock. And yes if you allow the roosters in with the hens they will breed. How you split them up is up to how you want them to breed. If your roosts fight having them in separate pens is a given.

To Kirklandchick: If they are on the roosts now they will stay on the roosts, no matter the temperature.
Thanks den in pen straw is free on our farm so I think I'll stick with that. But I've been reading and a lot of people say that straw is a good home for lice and mites, is this true?
I would use litter ( wood chips ) but that's just me, it really is a lot cleaner.
Chickens will roost even in below zero temps, that's how they huddle together to keep warm.
We insulated our coop, but I found if you wrapped the pen up it kept things warmer for the girls. Out of the wind, the snow and deep cold they did much better. Last winter we put a tarp over the top of the pen, what a pain! The snow weighed it down, and when it melted we were running into dripping wet problems , we had to constantly slap the snow off and tighten. This spring we built a new pen 2 times as big, a slanted roof was added and this has been a god send!
We wrapped the pen up in thick plastic, using slats to keep it on tight and cover the staples. Covered the door with plastic as well, again adding slats all the way around and across the door to keep it on better. Clear plastic for the light, and a slanted roof so snow slides off. The coop has windows on 3 sides, getting morning' afternoon and evening light.last year we tarped all the way around the pen ( we used a kennel ) and it was hard keeping it on with the high winds, we were constantly zip tying it down and trying to keep the wind and snow out. We planned all winter what we liked and did not like about our coop and pen set up . ( last year was pur first time ever having chickens) we had the coop built, and bought a 10x10x10 dog kennel and got 5 chickens. Our chickens did well, but we realized there was no potential for flock growth. So we planned all winter on spring plans. First thing was to enlarge the coop and build a pen fit for Montana weather and heavy duty. With tax money in tow we hired a man to rebuild the coop , adding on to the existing coop, it now will hold 20 birds with room to spare ( we have 8 now and 2 chicks) the pen is all wood, and a wood slanted roof with roofing on it. Best investment we ever made. ( grand kids and. I ) the only thing I was not happy about is he did not listen to me and put the egg box on the inside and the door opening from the out side upside down. ( door comes down instead of up ) will be rectifying this come spring.. Other then that plenty of room to add extra nest boxes, and I put in a dog crate for a broody mama to hatch chicks last month. Now that there on the roost with mama now the crate went . Water will be added this week on top of a set of bricks on a tin can heater. Winter should be a breeze. Chickens are molting, egg count is down, but by December eggs should go back up.
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I don't know that straw is any more prone to carrying parasites than any other litter. On the farm my grandfather used straw and I don't remember him having excess problems with mites and things. Keeping the litter dry helps with so much in their health. A dry litter limits the things that can grow in it. DE also helps in that. For you using it as a winter coop then moving them out in the spring, that alone will help break any coop related parasite cycle.
Straw will work the best when diatomaceous earth is used and when I turn them out to the tractors in the spring. denn in pen is right it will breach the cycle of any parasite
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