Preparing for winter to keep my hens healthy and happy

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DHAllen0425, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. DHAllen0425

    DHAllen0425 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 3, 2014
    Huntington, WV
    I have 6 hens who are all around 9 months old. 3 R.I. Reds, and 3 Buff Brahmas. This is their first winter and i want to make sure i am prepared. The coop I have built is 4'x4', has two vents on the side and rear, and a north-facing glass window. The run is 12'x4', and is pretty well protected from wind by an outbuilding standing beside the coop.
    It seems that I have heard that both of my breeds are tolerant of cold weather, but I would like to know if i should install any heat source inside the coop itself. The last thing I want is for my girls to freeze their tail feathers off.
    Also, as the days grow shorter, i get fewer eggs. I was thinking about installing a LED light set on a timer. Would that help to increase egg production?
    And lastly, does anyone know of a DIY or inexpensive way to make a warmer for the waterer so it doesn't freeze in winter?
    Any advise or suggestion would be appreciated![​IMG]
     
  2. mrchicks

    mrchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2013
    Wisconsin
    I love your coop!

    The chickens do not need any supplemental heat. They need to be out of cold drafts/winds, and have plenty of ventilation. I do put clear shower curtains around my run in the winter, but it's mostly to keep out blowing snow. I feed and water out there so that they get outside every day.

    For the shorter days, in my layer coop I have a light on a timer for them. My non-laying birds don't get the extra light.

    I use a cookie tin with a thin appliance light bulb inside of it underneath the water bucket. It's plugged into a thermocube so that it only goes on if needed. You can sometimes find the tins at thrift stores, though right now the stores are filled with them. A standard light socket on a cord is pretty cheap in the DIY lamp section at Home Depot.
     
  3. DHAllen0425

    DHAllen0425 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 3, 2014
    Huntington, WV
    Thanks, mrchicks!
    I will keep the advise in mind. I plan to keep the feed and waterer in the run. The coop itself seems a bit small, and I want to keep droppings out of their food/water source as much as possible. I thought about putting clear plastic around the lower part of the north facing wall to keep snow out. My concern now is ventilation. I have two vents which are about 4"x10" located on the side opposite to the coop entrance, and on the back of the coop. I have been afraid that these werent enough. Should I add more vents or larger vents to make my girls comfortable?
     
  4. mrchicks

    mrchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 29, 2013
    Wisconsin
    It is a little small inside, I use 4 square feet per bird as a general rule inside. But if they are spending most of their time outside, they might be fine with the smaller space. My polish flock right now has a bit over 3 sq ft inside and they are fine. It will be over 4 each after the excess roosters leave. I keep telling hubby that I'll post them, but haven't done it yet. [​IMG]

    The shower curtains work great, they still have ventilation on the top (open part), light, and protection down where they need it. They are sturdier and easier to hang than sheet plastic.

    I'd add a few more vents if possible. You need all the moisture that the gals put off to be able to rise and leave the coop. That prevents frostbite, and mold.
     

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