Now that colder weather is on its way...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by CoupeDeVille, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. CoupeDeVille

    CoupeDeVille Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 2, 2010
    New Hartford, Ct.
    what should I be doing out back in my CoupeDeVille?

    I've got 8 laying hens, everything's fine so far but how should I prepare the hens, the coop/run and myself for cold nights and shorter days? Different feed ? Lights/heats lamps ? I built my 6x6 coop with insulated walls planning for cold, but do the hens tend to stay inside more and less time out in the run ?

    or am I overthinking this whole process ? [​IMG]

    This is our first year with chickens here in Connecticut...any input would be appreciated ! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2010
  2. phaethona

    phaethona Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    It's my 1st year too, so I don't have "expert" advice, but I can tell ya what our plans are.
    we live in KC and it gets pretty cold and snowy here. right now my chickens are outside dawn to dusk enjoying the grass and bugs, but when the cold hits, I don't think they'll spend much time out there at all. My coop isn't insulated, but it's not drafty at all. right now I'm using a bathroom ceiling vent to blow outside air in, but I think I'll either seal it off or reverse it, havent decided yet. I'm gonna put a LOT more pine shavings in there so they can nestle if they need to, and I'm gonna start giving them scratch so they have something to do and hopefully turn down the poo a little. we're not going to use a heat lamp, but we do have a regular light that seems to put out a little heat.
    the run is now covered with a tarp for shade, but before it starts snowing I'm gonna put up a slanted black corrugated roof so the snow melts off. also, I have a thick fiberglass window on the side of the coop facing north to catch as much natural light and heat.
    Oh, and a friend of mine told me she would take a bowl full of their regular feed and pour a little hot water on it and mix it up like hot cereal, said her chickens absolutely loved it, so I'm gonna try that too. I hear it also works with oatmeal or other grains as well. And I plan on giving them some greens as a treat, they turn up their beaks to any greens I offer them now, but that's because they have a huge yard to range on all day, I'm sure they'll appreciate them more when the ground is frozen.

    that's about all I can think of at the moment, hope you get some good ideas! [​IMG]
  3. MimiChick

    MimiChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2009
    Glocester, RI
    If you have cold hardy breeds you should have no problems at all. We are very near each other geographically and I had 4 hens in an uninsulated 2x4 coop with attached covered run last year and they were fine with no heat added at all. Chickens are a lot more hardy than we think and they have nice "down" coats to keep them warm. They ate the same food (layer pellets) with additional treats of greens and BOSS. I occasionally would make a warm oatmeal, feed, scratch mush as a treat. I didn't provide any extra lighting and they layed just fine; a few less eggs here and there, but nothing significant. You may want to invest in some type of heated waterer unless you want to change out water frequently. I got a heated dog bowl from TSC and that works fine for me. I refill it daily and it stays liquid in even 0 degree weather.
    This year I built a new coop (6x6) because I got 4 more hens. I put some insulation in it (for me more than for the girls) and I expect they will be fine. Remember, wild birds don't even have a coop to go into to get out of the weather and they do fine.
    The most important thing is to make sure they have a draft free, but well ventilated, shelter to go into. If you provide supplemental heat you risk problems when there is a power outage. If they are used to warmer conditions they won't have made the necessary adaptations for the cold. Give them a roost that they can sit on their feet, such as a 2x4 with the wide side up. That will keep their feet warm and they will cuddle together at night and share warmth too. I also use the deep litter method in the coop so they can cuddle into the shavings for warmth if they really want too.
    It's not so much the cold as the humidity. In cold, humid conditions you have to watch for frostbite on combs and wattles. A little vaseline or bag balm will help with that though. If your coop is dry and well ventilated, just being cold really shouldn't be a problem. I've heard of people in Alaska that have chickens without extra heat that do just fine.
    They'll decide if they want to be in or out, depending on the weather. If you can cover at least part of their run they'll be happy. Some chickens don't like snow too much, others don't care.
    Don't worry too much. Enjoy your girls and good luck.
  4. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    You'll be fine as long as your coop has some ventilation so moisture doesn't build up. Your birds won't suffer as much as you do going out to care for them every day. Just be prepared for a little drop off in egg production if it gets really cold, depending on the breed. Right now I have all the windows open in my coop and the temps are getting into the low 40's at night--the birds are fine with it--may even enjoy it. I will close the windows sometime next month before we get frost and 20 below temps is all, mainly to keep the snow out.
  5. Clay Valley Farmer

    Clay Valley Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 7, 2010
    One group I have need a bit of a push to get them to go outside the this week, but it has been pretty dull and rainy. Added some light this week in the AM and chickens responded with a couple extra eggs. Might not be bad to add a little light soon as the days are getting shorter fast.
  6. CoupeDeVille

    CoupeDeVille Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 2, 2010
    New Hartford, Ct.
    [​IMG] Wow...thanks for all the replies !! [​IMG]

    Should have mentioned the girls above.. 2 White Leghorns, 4 Golden Comets and 2 Black Sex-links..

    Quote:Gotta remember that one !! [​IMG]
  7. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    It seems to me that chickens would like cold weather seeing how their a big ball of down feathers. I'm in Texas & its hot & I know my chickens would enjoy & me included a nice 60 degree night.

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