New and anxous in VA

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by notreadyforthis, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. notreadyforthis

    notreadyforthis New Egg

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    Nov 22, 2013
    Good morning all. I am not sure that "New Member Introductions" is the correct place to ask a question, but I will use the "New Member" part as my defense. [​IMG] I should also warn any brave enough to read this that - much to my husband's consternation - I am not a linear thinker. My thought processes are more like a spider web, and so frequently hard to follow. I will do my best to be clear in my question.

    I am new to owning chickens. Many friends and neighbors have them, but this is my first flock. I intended to wait until spring, but my son coerced me into getting fall babies. So, here I am in Northern Virginia (Not scary political, DC part of northern VA, but beautiful and relaxing piedmont part of Northern VA) where the weather is consistently inconsistent (60 today, snow and ice tomorrow), completely paranoid about helping my new chickens through the winter. Help! My "situation" and questions are as follows:

    • 11 pullets, 5 weeks old on Monday. Finishing the fence around the run today, but don't plan to move them to the roost/run until 6 weeks.
    • To date: spoiled and pampered in a brooder. Moved from house to small shed at about 2.5 weeks where they have been growing wonderfully (except one Long Horn runt, but she looks healthy, just small), but have been kept toasty warm.
    • I have gathered from comments here that most people feel that chickens do not need, and probably don't benefit from heated coops in the winter.
    • Absolutely makes sense to me, but is a different concept from the neighbor who has been most helpful and so I am not getting guidance or support from her. So, my questions are as follows:

    1. Is 5 /6 weeks too early to transition pullets from cozy to winter?
    2. If not, how do I do it? Today is supposed to be 60 degrees, but snow on Sunday. Does this make it harder?
    3. Should I do it while they are still in the brooder, or wait until I put them in the roost at 6 weeks?
    4. Again, how do I do this?
    5. How do I know when to add more protein to their diet to support winter health?
    6. I have been reading about deep litter method of winter cleaning the coop and it sounds really smart. Has anyone tried it? Liked it? hated it?

    Long introduction I know. Sorry. I just never expected to like my chickens so much and so never really expected to be so worried about them in the winter (I know! That sounds horrible! Just please focus on he fact I am a true convert now!)

    Thank you so much in advance for any guidance assistance and emotional support!
     
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Ease them off the heat. If it's 60F out today then turn the heat off and let them play in the yard a bit. At 4 weeks my chicks are outside but I know they are feathered enough and do lower temp during brooding.

    I don't know what wattage bulb your using but you could lower wattage or raise the bulb. Basically you want to stage down the temp. For me I brood indoors and by mid week 3 they are at room temp which gets to 59F at night when heating house. At 4 weeks my chicks are outside in spring which gets to 30F at night and some days.
     
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I almost forgot. Welcome to BYC.

    As for winter feed it's the same as any time of year. Your grower feed will be 16-18% protein and when they are at laying age you can use a layer feed (which has added calcium) or continue with the grower just supply oyster shell free choice. We prefer pellets so use a game bird finisher with oyster shell on side, my grower feed only comes in crumbles and find it's wasted by adult birds. Extra calcium is not good for growing birds or roosters hence I don't use layer feed. Still have a few growing pullets and a rooster.

    I live near Canada and have long, cold winters. I give them a handful or two of black oil sunflower seeds each day. BOSS as it's called here on BYC is very high in fat and still 14% protein. Excellent winter treat.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  4. notreadyforthis

    notreadyforthis New Egg

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    Nov 22, 2013
    I wondering if could just let them play a bit outside, but heard so much about death by "sudden shock." Thank you for putting my at ease a bit!

    Thank you so much for the feed suggestions too. I am sure that at some point I will be as at ease with all this chicken stuff as I am with dog stuff, but right now it is fairly overwhelming!
     
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Chickens are the best pets. I'm not a huge dog fan as they are rather needy and require work. If you like cats then you'll love chickens. Feed and water then the occasional litter cleaning is all they need. For that they give you hours of entertainment and eggs- which makes them better than cats.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  6. liz9910

    liz9910 Overrun With Chickens

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  7. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Hello :frow and Welcome to BYC!
     
  8. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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  9. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    Out to pasture
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