Newby chicken owner nervous about winter

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by hollophil, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. hollophil

    hollophil Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2009
    Bend, Oregon
    My 4 hens are in a 4 x 2.5 ft coop with a ramp out to an enclosed 4x8 run. Nightime temps are already down in the 20's. So far I have added a 40 watt red lamp to their coop but I am nervous they will peck at it as it is within reach when they are roosting. The metal watering can is in the run and sits on top of a hollow cinder block with a low watt bulb inside to keep the water from freezing. Both the coop heat lamp and the bulb under the water are on a thermostat to come on at 35 degrees and shut off at 45. I plan on leaving the coop door open so the birds can go in and out at will. The coop is not insulated but wind free. Anyone have more or better suggestions? It will reach zero sometimes this winter. Thanks!
     
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

  3. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    I was worried my first winter, also - it's normal [​IMG]

    can you use hardware cloth to cover the exposed area of the heat lamp frame?

    Most of them have four holes to hang those wires, maybe you could cut a piece of hardware cloth in a circle and wire it to the holes, to keep them from actually touching the bulb when it is hanging in the coop.

    meri
     
  4. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    What breed are your hens? There's lots of these issues coming up this time of year, but honestly, chickens can manage cold very very well. LynneP's member page about it is fantastic, as is patandchickens about ventilation. https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION

    If
    ventilation isn't right, moisture causes much more danger than simple cold. Your 'off at 45' sensor is really too warm, much too warm actually. Don't forget they are wearing a down coat all the time!

    Making your birds unable to cope with a bit of cold, opens them up to real problems and what if you have a power outage? Just keep the water from freezing, and keep them dry and out of drafts from the get go, that includes moisture from condensation inside their coop from too much warmth.

    Chickens in climates way colder than yours have been thriving for centuries.
     
  5. hollophil

    hollophil Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2009
    Bend, Oregon
    Thanks for the advise and the links. It is 30 degress this morning and my four hens are walking around the run like its a balmy day in the tropics. I have to laugh-that 40 watt bulb didn't seem to be doing squat in the coop last night for warmth anyway.

    Our climate here is high desert-a very very dry climate. So dry in fact that I run humidifiers in the house to keep my skin from feeling like parchment paper. So based on the comments here, I think I will take the bulb out, leave the pop door open for ventilation whenever possible,
    keep the water in the run thawed and not worry about them so they stay hardy birds.

    Sound like it will work?
     
  6. hollophil

    hollophil Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2009
    Bend, Oregon
    Oh, and Portage Girl, I have 2 Buffs, 1 Barred Rock and one Aracauna.
     
  7. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I see that the overnight low temperature was about 22° F (-5.6° C) at the Bend airport. Your weather is quite a bit colder than the US average. High elevation side of Oregon . . .

    The indoor space you have for the birds is really quite tight. Only 10 square feet for 4 standard chickens . . . They will keep quite warm by themselves but ventilation will be important. An open pop door to the run will provide a lot of that but, of course, allow for cold air invasion. You are correct to be concerned about freezing water.

    If there's no other light, your 40w bulb is necessary but not so much for heat - it won't provide much heat, anyway. You could even go smaller watts, they only need that light to see. And mostly, to see to eat & drink - critically important activities during cold weather.

    The run will be important to your hens with such a small coop. What do you think about covering it? Not only will they be comfortable out there during winter days, but you can cut down on air blowing directly through their popdoor. You may want to wrap much of the run in clear plastic.

    Steve
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
  8. PortageGirl

    PortageGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:All good hardy breeds which will do fine in cold weather, especially if they are acclimated to it starting now. Biggest worry -may- be if any have large combs which can get frostbitten though being such a dry climate should really help. Still even that isn't the end of the world, though something we try to help them past. Again, dry air is less prone to any frostbite.

    One of my EEs which was of course sold as an Americauna... (so NOT really one, but that's fine) has a large floppy comb which worries me, but, I'll just keep an eye on her this winter. I also have some production reds... (golden comets) that have combs much too large IMO, so I'll be worrying about them too.

    Your girls probably benefit from larger combs which help keep them cool in your heat, so taking extra care in the cold months is probably a fair trade.

    Here's a picture of Doe, who SHOULD have a pea comb, but doesn't. ... oh well, she's a sweet girl.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. hollophil

    hollophil Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 11, 2009
    Bend, Oregon
    Thanks Chicken Obsessed,

    I have now changed a few things:

    1. I will be tarping the majority of the run (where the wind and snow will hit) with a clear plastic tarp so the hens can roam out to water and feed under the coop house (since it is too small for anything except the birds, roost and egg box) and still be cold but more importantly dry and draft free and they will have room to roam. I am hoping you can now see "my page" with photos of the coop and birds. They also have fancy chandelier lights mounted under the roof that will come on at dusk and go off 2 hours later so they can find their way to the roost at bedtime.

    [​IMG]

    Would love to all thoughts on this new plan.

    Hollophil
     
  10. hollophil

    hollophil Out Of The Brooder

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    32
    Mar 11, 2009
    Bend, Oregon
    Lights in action:

    [​IMG]

    There is a light bulb inside the concrete block, copper sheet on top to protect bulb from birds, weather, dirt etc. Water seems to be staying a nice tepid temperature.

    [​IMG]
     

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