Overwintering hens and ducks?

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by antiqsolo, Sep 28, 2016.

  1. antiqsolo

    antiqsolo In the Brooder

    Sep 28, 2016
    Hi y'all.. I'm not exactly new here, but this is my first post. My family and I are moving from the city to a country home next month... and there will be nine hens and four ducks there, waiting for me to jump in and take care of them! My problem is... Nova Scotia winters do not seem to be the typical, talked about winter ideal. So I have a lot of questions for anyone who's dealt with more than a few inches of snow.. sorry in advance, this might get tedious.

    I've spent hours upon hours upon hours researching how to overwinter hens and ducks, but I just can't find anything that seems to mesh with our snowy Canadian winters!

    I understand that chickens tend to do fairly well in cold temps (or at least, better than they do in the heat), provided there are no drafts in the coop. But all the posts I've seen have said to let the girls outside in the snow, and they'll decide if they want to stay out or not. Even more funny, to me, were people talking about putting straw on top of the snow to insulate an area and keep the girls outside and exercising. Why is this funny? Well... you see, last year (albeit a very harsh winter), the snowbanks were piled up nine feet high.

    I don't think the chickens would much appreciate nine feet of snow, straw or not!

    So, what do I do? Do I keep them in the barn from the time it snows, until it stops? Our property has both a chicken barn and a horse barn, both much larger than the nine hens and four ducks could ask for. That could be four months, if I am diligent about letting them out early when the snow calms down a bit. Or do I constantly shovel out their pen? (That probably sounds like a funny question, but I honestly do not know if it's the right answer to this question, so I'm asking all of you more experienced folks.)

    If I keep them in the barn, how often do you think cleaning will have to take place? I can't afford to do deep bedding in the barns.. they're way too big for that. Do I still need to put down some straw or mulch? I don't know if either barn is wired for electricity, so if I ran an extension cord from the house to the barn, what light would you recommend using so they could get some light? Neither barn has a window.. should I be making a screen door for the barn, so I can open it for fresh air and sunlight?

    How do you keep your water from freezing, also? I'm at a loss on this one.. many people seem to think that the heated waterers don't work in Canadian climates, and some others say they're a fire hazard. I've considered the constant flow, hooking one hose up to trickle water into the pan and one to trickle it out, but I don't think I could rig one up for myself the first year.. is there a chicken fountain or something?

    I'm going to try mixing my own feed. I watch Justin Rhodes on Youtube, as well as Off Grid With Doug and Stacy (good channels to bookmark, in my opinion, if you're new to this like me or if you just want some good information), and with knowledge I've gained from both their channels I think I've got feed down pat. 30% corn, 30% wheat, 20% oat, 10% peas, 10% fishmeal. Old Farmer's Almanac says 1/2 cup of feed per hen per day, but I know there's a lot of controversy over how much to feed and what to feed. As well, personally, I'm not a fan of medicated feeds. I have a hard time believing that any animal that isn't milked (goats, sheep, cows) should be given medication beyond diatomaceous earth... but I suppose it's all a matter of opinion, right?

    Well, if you're still reading along, thank you for any information you can offer! And thanks for being such a wealth of information, BYC, this place has really made envisioning chicken keeping a lot less of an unknown.

  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockwit Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Hi and welcome to BYC - great that you have joined us, and congrats on your move! Sadly, I live in the tropics and I only have a vague recollection of what snow is [​IMG] (I'm from the UK, originally). Here's a link that may provide some help - https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/winter-coop-temperatures but I'm sure there's a lot more out there. Maybe search "overwintering your flock" or something like that.

    Also the peeps on the Canadian thread may have some suggestions that will hopefully be more specific to your weather - https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/144/canadians-check-in-here

    Good luck and best wishes
  3. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us! :)
  4. N F C

    N F C phooey! Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013

    You've been given some good links to check out...hope they help.

    It's nice to have you here, thanks for joining us!

  5. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    You might want to post on the "J'est Another Day in Pear A Dice." thread op is from Alberta and they have very bad winters. She knows all about getting poultry etc. through all weather extremes.
  6. redsoxs

    redsoxs Crowing

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Greetings from Kansas and :welcome. Happy you joined our flock! Looks like other members have already given you some great advice so I'll just say best wishes and good luck on your poultry adventure! :weee
  7. antiqsolo

    antiqsolo In the Brooder

    Sep 28, 2016
    Thank you for the links :) I'll be sure to check them out.

  8. antiqsolo

    antiqsolo In the Brooder

    Sep 28, 2016
    Thank you! [​IMG]
  9. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Welcome to BYC! It's great to have you.

  10. CuzChickens

    CuzChickens CountryChick

    Apr 24, 2016

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by