preparing for winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by JennB, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. JennB

    JennB Out Of The Brooder

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    May 21, 2010
    nashport, ohio
    so i have a couple question. i have 11 chickens, lost one to dog attack, the coop is 4x8, 7 ft tall in front with a sloping roof to back, this is where our ventilation is. there is a large triple pane window on the 8ft east side and a 2x2 ft wooden window on the south side that is open during nice weather. pop door on the north side that is always open and human door on west side. the coop is about 2 ft of the ground and is uninsulated 1/2 plywood. it seem to be draft free. the run is completely fence in, but i let them out of the run during the day to free range, they have arleady torn up the grass in the run, then close the run at sundown. we have the food under the coop which has chicken wire around it. we plan to cover in tarps to stop the wind and plan to put heat tap around waterer to keep from freezing. and maybe tarps around the south side of run, thats where we get most wind.
    so should i shut the pop door during winter? should i let them free range out of there run? and i have heard that they will stop laying in winter due to shorter days, should i put a light in to lengthen day time? how do there feet do in the snow, come jan. we have snow on the ground until middle of march. im not worried about them getting to cold. it is already dropping below freezing at night and it seem ok inside.
     
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    You're in a snow belt, like us. Some ideas in the link below. Do you have pics to help us assess your coop for winter?
    Do you have any predators?
    Is the run covered/roofed?
    The more light and fresh air your chickens can get in winter, the better- always giving them the choice of coming back inside via the pop door.
    You can make a 'porch' for a pop door too if you're worried about wind blowing into the coop.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  3. ~*Sweet Cheeks*~

    ~*Sweet Cheeks*~ Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2009
    Olympia Washington
    I would be locking those chickens up in the coop at night since you said you have chicken wire covering the run under the raised coop where the food is.

    You'll have coons or possum ripping in through the chicken wire to get to the feed sitting out at night and will then go in the coop for chicken dinner.
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:It may be okay(ish) now, but in wintertime when food is scarcer, you will be the 24-hr Open Buffet for every rodent within a quarter mile (and there will be increasing *numbers* of them within a quarter mile as the winter goes on, thanks to your generosity [​IMG]) Also when the food gets damp and freezes it is hard for chickens to eat. But mainly the rodent thing. (You may also be trolling in larger things like raccoons, which you *really* don't want.

    If it were me I would find a way to put the food IN the coop, for sure.

    we plan to cover in tarps to stop the wind and plan to put heat tape around waterer to keep from freezing. and maybe tarps around the south side of run, thats where we get most wind.

    Careful with the tarps, as they can catch wind and snow and cause your run to collapse if it is not stoutly enough built/braced.

    Using heat tape in ways it is not designed for, e.g. on your waterer (especially if this is a plastic waterer, but even if it's metal) is generally a good recipe for getting to know your local fire brigade and insurance company, and not generally a very good idea. The stuff is enough of a menace when used exactly as mfr directs; it is NOT good to freelance with it.

    so should i shut the pop door during winter?

    If you want to have chickens in springtime, yes. What previous posters said about hungry hungry predators.

    should i let them free range out of there run?

    Personal call -- depends not only on your own risk-tolerance but on what the situation is (how many predators fo what type, how much cover for chickens to duck into, etc etc). You're there; do what seems best to you.

    and i have heard that they will stop laying in winter due to shorter days, should i put a light in to lengthen day time?

    If they are pullets this year, and especially if they are of a production-oriented strain or breed, you may see little or even no drop in laying this year even without extra lighting. If it were me, I would just let them be, and see what happens. It is debatable whether lighting them is good or bad for the chickens' long term health, and it is just one more thing to fiddle with and potentially catch on fire.

    If maximizing all possible egg yield is a big priority though, then it is probably worth adding light (and it is almost too late for it to do any good now -- really you'd have wanted to start a month or two ago). Use something safe, low-wattage, safely-rigged, and try to get them up to at least 14 hrs of light per day. You may or may not see much difference from it, this year, at this point.

    how do there feet do in the snow, come jan. we have snow on the ground until middle of march. im not worried about them getting to cold. it is already dropping below freezing at night and it seem ok inside.

    Feet in snow is not a problem as long as they are generally-healthy (well fed) and have a good wide roost for nighttime and are on DRY ground/bedding. Frostbit feet tend to be more from things like stomping around on wet or bare-frozen-mud or bare-frozen-ice ground a whole lot, or insufficient bedding in the coop or too small a roost, or chickens in generally poor or cold-stressed condition.

    (Mind you, some chickens like being out on the snow, some don't. I'm not sure of any way to tell which category yours will be in, and I am not sure how "convertable" chickens are. If yours are being weenies, try putting down some hay or straw or whatnot on the ground in their run, they often like walking around on *that* better than on snow)

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  5. JennB

    JennB Out Of The Brooder

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    May 21, 2010
    nashport, ohio
    thanks for all the info, i think i will move the feed indoors, but not to worried about predators, i have two coon hounds that live very close to the chickens, but to be safe i will start shutting the door. i think i will leave the light out this year, and give them the opition to free range, they have lots of coverage, they wonder through the brush and small trees near our spring. and the run is build out of dog kennel so its pretty sturdy. they have torn all the grass up so its now all dirt, i dont want to put sand down, what else can i use to keep the mud down this winter during thaws that we seem to get sometimes? i have plenty of hay i can use or dried leaves. will grass grow back this spring?
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hay or dried leaves are fine; just be aware that they can convert (often fairly suddenly) to really frighteningly-stenchy condition when you get a thaw and when winter ends; so you may need to (laboriously) rake their wet soaked muddy stenchy selves out of there one or more times during the winter and replace with fresh material. (You can chuck fresh material on TOP of the nasty stenchy squishy stuff if you want, and if you put enough down it will fix the squishiness for a while, but there is a limit to how much that fixes the stench, and it makes a REAL huge nasty job for springtime and I would not personally recommend it)

    Grass may start to grow back in spring but they will kill it just like they killed it this year. It takes a HUGE chicken-run to keep grass alive long-term (and even in a huge one, *parts* tend to get thrashed to bare dirt). Get used to it [​IMG]

    I don't know if you've seen my mud page (link in .sig below) but if not then you might take a look at it in case there are any useful ideas in there for you -- mud (and the accompanying smell) is MUCH easier to prevent than to fix!

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     

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