New chicken owner worried about the colder weather

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by raisingirl78, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. raisingirl78

    raisingirl78 In the Brooder

    Oct 11, 2011
    I got 8 chickens (full grown and already laying) about 4 months ago. I don't know what breeds they are but can describe them: 2 are black and white speckled with red combs, 2 are big and blond, and 4 are smaller, brownish/red (they remind me of pheasants without the ring-neck or long tail) and they have long curls on their cheeks.

    Anyway, we built a coop (it's about 8'x10'), ventilated, with a run, man door on the side remains closed unless I'm gathering eggs or cleaning it out. We use pine shavings for the bedding. There are perches. The pen is 12'x20', completely enclosed (I have hawks in my yard). I should probably also tell you I live in Pennsylvania.

    OK, so the girls adjusted well, they eat a layered mash/crumbles I get from the feed mill and I keep their water fresh. I was told apple cider vinegar in the water can help with parasites so I put a little in there everytime I fill it. I was getting about 4-7 eggs per day during the summer. Lately (the past 30 days) I get 1 egg per day. I used to get blue/grey eggs, but whichever chickens were laying those quit - I get brown only now.

    I read that the change in season/lack of sunlight might slow egg production. Also that molting contributes. I have put a light in the coop, just a regular, 100 watt bulb in one corner with a timer set from 5am-8am then from about 4:30pm-8:30pm. This has only been in place for 48 hours. Will this work? Should I see better egg production if the molting ends and the light is in place? Should I keep the light on throughout the day for warmth?

    I have some Amish farmers as friends, but they don't use light or anything in their coops. They also don't seem to mind when one of their 80 or 90 chickens dies, whereas I am more concerned about my 8. Am I on the right track for the winter months and will I get more than 1 egg a day? Will they be cold without a light on (I imagine it couldn't be good to leave on all day and all night) or will I need more hens for body warmth in a coop that size?

    Thanks for any help you can give a newbie!

  2. Magic Birdie

    Magic Birdie Crowing

    May 3, 2011
    Magic Birdie land
    First off, [​IMG]

    Most people don't recommend heat in the winter, because most chickens do fine in the winter (The more hardy breeds). If you do have heat, the chickens will get used to it, and if there is a power shortage, they will most likely die from the sudden change in temp. Plus, it uses up unnecessary energy. The bulb will be helpful for them laying, though. I don't know what other people do, but I think just turning them on in the morning and late afternoon will do [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2011
  3. LiLRedCV

    LiLRedCV Songster

    Aug 25, 2010
    Land of the Rain
    We live in the upper NW. We don't heat our coops. (had over 20" of snow Thanksgiving week 2010) As long as the interior remains dry and you have proper ventilation, they should be fine. If you're going to light them to keep up egg production, be sure the bulb is far out of reach or they may peck the bulb and break it, then eat the glass.

    Your speckled birds sound like Barred Rocks (aka Plymouth Rocks). The blondes may be Buff Orpingtons. Not sure about the reds the way you described them. First two are definitely hardy birds and can handle the cold much better than you might think!
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2011
  4. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    I use a CFL bulb in my pullet coop ( I am giving the older ladies a winter break), but I only add the extra light in the morning. Reason being that if the light suddenly shuts off when it's dark outside, it's likely the birds will be off the roost and not able to see to get there. So my light turns on at about 4AM.

    Oh, and you'll see many threads by people who live in Canada/Alaska/Northeast (like me) that use no heat at all - didn't lose a single bird last year in minus double digit temps.

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