New to raising chickens - have questions about wintering them...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by redonthehead, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. redonthehead

    redonthehead Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi!

    I'm new to raising chickens. We got our first bunch of them early this summer. We've overcome issues with raccoons and are learning about what makes our feathered family happy. We have 38 chickens, including some roosters, hens, and pullets who aren't laying yet. It's a whole mixed bag of breeds too... some brown leghorns, black leghorns, a buff orphington rooster, americanas, one meat hen we've kept as a pet (the kids got attached to her when she grew in these pretty orange feathers instead of white) and several other varieties I can't remember the names of at the moment.

    I live in NB, Canada, and as we're entering winter I have some questions about keeping them through the winter.

    1. Can laying hens be out in the snow at all or is it best they stay indoors? Their coop is plenty big enough for the number of hens we have, but they definitely prefer being outside. [​IMG]

    2. How cool can they handle it... right now it's about 8 C (around 47F) and they're outside running around the yard happy as anything.

    3. What sort of heat source is best for those really cold days/nights? Currently we just have a light bulb lighting the pen from 4am-8:30pm, but in the winter I'm concerned about them not being warm enough through the night, but I want something that isn't really going to light up the coop much so they can get their rest at night.


    Thanks for all the help. Honestly, when my husband first suggested getting egg layers I was fully against it, but since we've gotten them I've pretty well taken over their care and totally adore these birds. They're so relaxing, and fun. They've got varied personalities, and are a lot smarter than I thought they were. [​IMG] I'm definitely glad he talked me into doing it. We're even hoping to get an incubator, and my daughters grade 1 class wants to hatch out some chicks for us in the spring!

    Thanks so much!

    Jane
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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  3. henney penny

    henney penny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi I live just across the boarder in Miane from you.Yes laying hens can go out in the winter,I open there door everyday unless its storming or extremly cold and windy.Mine don`t like the snow on their feet so I put down straw for them to walk on.They go in and out all day when the sun is shinning.Depending on your breed they can handle cold very well its the draft that bothers them.You do need to read up on ventilation,last year I did not have enough and there was a lot of condensation in my coop so there was a little frost bit on the tips of there combs not all just the ones with big combs.I also do the deep liter method(some like others don`t)I start out with a bag of shavings and add all winter and clean out once a year in the spring.I through black oil sunflower seeds in everday so they will turn the shavings over.I also have poop boards my dh made for me and that really helps with the smell and condensation.I did use 250 watt red heat lamp last year when it was really cold like below 0 or is the wind was blowing really hard and it was in the teens.Hope I have helped in some way and ask away its the only way you will find out.
     
  4. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yea they can go out in the snow and cold--will they? Maybe. [​IMG] Mine tend to stay inside when the snow gets more than a couple of inches deep mainly because I won't shovel paths for them. As far as cold is concerned they do fine even when it gets below -20 F with no heat just a well ventilated coop. The only one that minds the snow and cold around here is me getting from the house to the coop and back twice a day.
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    The link ddawn gave you is a good one.
    1. Mine do NOT like the snow. If there's no snow, they still like to go out even in pretty cold temps as long as it's not windy, so if you have a run, you might consider tarping the prevailing wind side(s). My girls were 4-5 months old last winter, and spent a lot of time outside when the temps got above 20F. They'd come out for short periods if it was colder than that.
    2. You will learn YOUR birds...as it's different based on breed, age, etc. Most say chickens can handle temps down to 0 degrees or less if they're hardy and mature. Some have dealt with frostbite issues if cold and damp are combined though, and icy wind can wreak havok.
    3. If you do end up supplementing heat with a lamp, go with the red bulbs...not as glaring...and it doesn't have to be a 250...there are much lesser wattages available. Some folks have purchased flat panel heaters (quite safe) such as the sweeter heater and such.
     
  6. redonthehead

    redonthehead Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks everyone for all the wonderful information! I feel better about the upcoming winter now. I think the biggest thing we need to do now is cut down on drafts. It can tend to get windy in my little area, and the coop that they're in was originally built for meat hens and not built for winter. But it won't take much to do that.

    I did discover yesterday that my chickens may be finicky about the weather. A while after I let them out it started raining. Every single chicken sought shelter except for this one hen (I think she's an isa red) who just kept wandering the yard all afternoon. The poor thing looked like a drowned rat, but she was happy.

    I do have one further question though for henney penny - what's a poop board?? LOL! [​IMG]
     
  7. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Quote:A poop board is something placed under the roosting area to catch the majority of the poop. If you have a poop board you barely need to clean your coop because the majority of the mess goes onto a board that can be removed and cleaned. You can use boards, sheets of metal, large cookie sheets- anything that can be easily removed and hosed or scraped off. Poop boards are a great idea and save lots of work.
     
  8. henney penny

    henney penny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Heres my poop boards,dh always has help [​IMG]
     
  9. henney penny

    henney penny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Another picture,I put sweet pdz in mine its a granular absorbent and I use a kitty litter scooper to scoop it out everyday works great for me. [​IMG]
     
  10. henney penny

    henney penny Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Heres my waterer that dh made me to keep the water from freezing [​IMG]
     

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