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New to snow

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by VickiO, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. VickiO

    VickiO Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 16, 2011
    We plan on getting hens for spring. We will be using a room in our old barn. There will be an outside run as well. I'd like to make sure it's good and safe for them during the winter months here in South Dakota. It can get into the negatives with a windchill up to -50. I would love ideas from other members who live with these same type of winter dilemmas as well as any advice.

    The room is 9ft x 11ft. There is a door for us to walk into the room and a small door leading outside(my kids used it as a playroom and we had made a small swing door for them to crawl into from the outside).

    Thank you in advance!
    Vicki
     
  2. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2010
    Fairfield, Maine
    My Coop
    It's useful to have a run with a roof. Mine don't like walking on the snow, but they will use their covered run. On really cold days, they may hunker down inside, so just make sure they are not super-crowded or they will peck each other. Chickens are very cold hardy as long as you have good ventilation and keep things dry.
     
  3. Ariel301

    Ariel301 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2009
    Kingman Arizona
    They should be fine as long as they can go inside to get out of the wind. Make sure it doesn't have any really bad drafts, and give them some nice deep bedding and a flat roost like a board that they can stand on and protect their feet under their feathers. Birds with large combs like Leghorns are really prone to frostbite, so you might want to consider small-combed breeds. Frostbitten combs won't kill them, but it does look ugly. Birds with large combs can be "dubbed" (have the combs cut off) like game birds to prevent frostbite, if you've just got to have one of those breeds. I personally prefer to avoid heat lamps unless absolutely necessary. They can be a fire hazard, animals can break them (leaving you with shattered glass all over the floor for them to step on), and the constant going from the warm indoors to the cold outdoors and back again is hard on them. It's better for them to be in the cold than to do that. Also, provide them with extra calories in the winter time. Digestion produces heat, so extra food is helpful. Also, keeping their temperature up in colder weather requires more work, which burns more calories, so they will be hungrier. Something higher in fat is a good choice for a winter supplement, many people like to add extra corn to their feed in winter because it's fatty. Rice bran would also work nicely, you can get it powdered, pelleted, or in an oil. Just don't overfeed to the point of having obese birds, of course!

    Animals are much more tough than we give them credit for; I used to have a horse in Colorado that would go outside in the snow when it was -20 and play in the water trough. She would never use the barn, no matter how cold or windy. She would be standing up to her belly in snow in the freezing wind, no blanket, and perfectly content.
     
  4. kittycooks

    kittycooks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Vicki, welcome to BYC!
    How many chickens were you planning to have? My set up is about the size of yours, with a 8X8 covered run open to the 8X4 "coop". We cover the run with plastic for the winter. I chose docile breeds that handle confinement well and have 8 hens. They get along fine. In the summer they have about 20 minutes of supervised free range but they spend most of their time in the coop. When it is below zero they spend most of their time sleeping in the straw.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I'm always envious of folks who are able to incorporate their coops into existing barns and such. My advice would be keep as small a number of birds as possible in your space, for your winter times. If given the choice (and as others have said, especially if your run is covered and you've put up wind breaks), most chickens will go outside in the winter, but they spend a LOT more time indoors. So I'd shoot for a lot more than the 4 sq. ft. minimum per bird often recommended here on BYC as your indoor space. I'd also plan for a "small as possible" pop door...so as much of the winter weather as possible is left outside. If you have access to old windows, maybe installing one into an outside wall, to take advantage of sunshine for heat??? I'd also plan on your ventilation opening into the barn, if that's possible.
     
  6. Evernf

    Evernf Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 27, 2009
    Put a little vinegar in there water not store brought but go to health food store and get raw unfilterd unpasteurized store bought has the good bugs killedd and wont do any good it does a lot of good things for them it is also good for you put about two tab spoons in a cup add hot water and put in enough honny not sugar till it tast good do about once a day
     
  7. VickiO

    VickiO Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 16, 2011
    Thanks everyone! Here's some pictures of the barn.There is a small swing style door that they'd be let out into the run. It would need a ramp for sure.

    The inside is pretty big as well as tall for height. We will add a roof to the room as the inside has rooms but the rooms aren't sealed off on top. Make sense?

    What type of plastic do you use Kittycooks for the outside? We've got horrendous winds out here LOL I'm not sure the plastic would hold up! We may end up using plywood to cover the sides of the run. The run will have a slanted covered roof to help with snow.

    I'm thinking of 8 hens.

    We do plan on adding a window for sunlight as well as ventilation for summer months. We get a lot of crickets and grasshoppers as well as other bugs in the summer, so free protein ;o)

    This is the end of the barn where the run will be. The door to the coop is on the lower right of the barn.
    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/856/dsc01317q.jpg/

    Close up of the coop outside door.
    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/13/dsc01318fq.jpg/

    Where the run will be once we build it.
    http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/193/dsc01322e.jpg/

    Inside the barn. Can't see the entire room, there's plastic storage bins in there now. Once we move that out in spring I will take a picture from the top looking into the room to give a better view.
    http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/7624/insidebarn.jpg

    Couldn't get the pics to show up, only links. Sorry.
     
  8. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    [​IMG] That's me drooing over your space/set-up...lol.
    Is the barn itself predator proof? I was wondering whether you're doing a "real" ceiling/roof" or using wire or even just netting (if the barn is secure). A wire ceiling/roof would be optimum ventilation [​IMG]
     
  9. Evernf

    Evernf Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 27, 2009
    I think I see some mold not good
     
  10. VickiO

    VickiO Out Of The Brooder

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    There's no mold. We bought the barn from a local farmer. They were holes when the barn was used to hold grain. The barn is double walled, due to the pressure of holding so much grain at the time. There was these bars poking out where you see the dark spots. The farmer explained what the bars did but I honestly don't remember now. I asked hubby and he said any holes the farmer had he plugged with tar.

    I didn't think of chicken wire for a roof, hubby was thinking he had to use plywood. Thank you for the idea! Yes the barn is predator proof. We did catch a few mice in there over the summer, so we will have to go through it again and see how they got in. There's no open holes or broken bits.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2011

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