Preparing the coup for winter


6 Years
Sep 22, 2013
Carrollton GA
Chicken newbie here. I have 6 chickens and they all seem healthy and happy (of course I've only had them a week, so I know that can change). But now I am looking at how to prepare my coup for winter. I live in GA (USA) so it doesn't get super cold here, but I was still considering doing "heavy bedding" (is that what it is called when you just put new wood chips on the old to increase the heat in the coup?) Anyway, I am asking if I should put a layer of DE in the coup and in the nesting boxes under the shavings and straw. Also, should I worm the chickens? If so, with what product? Should I dust the chickens with sevin dust to prevent mites and lice? I don't seem to have any problems yet and I want to prevent the icky stuff if possible!!
Thanks for any advice!!!
A lot depends on the size of your chicks, like I read earlier in a post, for thousands of years poultry survived the cold winters on their own(just for a thought of it). Yes I like using powder, here in S.A.we get carbo dust to prevent mice and fleas.
I made a mistake once to add heat in my coop, and when the chicks go out the humidity was not the same as inside and caused my flock to get bronchitis, Now, because our winters get as low as -2 to -4 Celsius, I leave them half covered and survives. Please I do not say you must not heat up your coop, just be carefull
Our winters aren't too bad- but it does drop below freezing (32 F or 0 C) at night a few times. I wasn't really considering getting a heat lamp because I worry about fires and my chickens all seem to have plenty of feathers. Do y'all think that just letting the bedding get deep is too much heat? I do lock all of my chickens up in an enclosed coup at night because I would prefer not to feed the raccoons, but they "free range" (in an acre dog yard) during the day.
I don't really think you get much heat from deep litter. From what I understand, you have to have a dirt floor, and the bedding is suppose to act like a compost heap. My bedding can get over a foot or so deep, and I've never seen it act like like one. I clean out my coop twice a year and replace all the shavings. And I have to wear a respirator to deal with the dust contained in that stuff.
The main thing for winter is to make sure you keep the coop properly ventilated. Don't fall into the trap of closing the coop up, in some misguided attempt to keep them warm. Fresh air, especially in winter, is very important. If you find frost inside the coop during the winter, that is a sure sign that you don't have enough fresh air/ventilation. That can lead to frostbitten birds, and respiratory problems.
As far as mites, I use this spray I got from TractorSupply. HappyJack kennel spray. You mix it up, and spray the entire interior of you coop. It leaves an invisible film that kills mites and other insect pests. It's also not a bad idea to dust your birds down every 6 months or so. It's not mandatory, but it's not a bad idea. You can get the poultry dust also, at TractorSupply.
As far as worming them, you can do a search and see what people use. There's different stuff that you can add to their waterers.
My coup is about 5.5ft tall, 6ft long, and 4 ft wide. It has three windows, with netting over them, that around about 5 in by 5 in. So are you saying that I should leave those little windows open during the winter? I was considering covering them with some type of plastic do keep out drafts. The pop door would still be open during the day while they are out, but that might not be enough ventilation.
And I love Tractor Supply! I love just looking at all the products for the animals. We have dogs, cats, and horses too so it is a nice one-stop-shop. I will get some HappyJack!!
Not sure where in GA you are (big weather differences from one end of the state to the other), but I don't do anything different in the winter than I do the rest of the year and my chickens are fine. I'm almost at the SC border, about 10 miles west of Elberton; 20 miles east of Athens. If you are no further north than I am, you should be fine as long as you have good ventilation. I do use the deep litter method, but I have a different sort of coop. My coop is an old 10' X 10' granite/brick milk house (some people call them flower houses) where the floor is about 2 feet below ground. The old granite work makes the walls about 6" thick. At some point someone poured a concrete floor at the entrance, but over half the building is dirt floor. Prevailing winds are from the west or the northwest. The building faces south, has a small window on the west side and 2 large windows on the east (they take up all but about a foot around them of the above ground part of the wall). Windows are covered with welded wire/hardware cloth. Even in winter, they all want to roost right next to the small window on the west side. I do give cracked corn every evening in the winter because it burns more energy (creating heat) as it digests during the night. I do not give it in the summer. It's not like I have a huge number of chickens for that space either. It has always ranged between 8 and 15 birds.
I have not had an issue with lice or mites, so have never had to treat with sevin. I do LIGHTLY dust DE in the coop, roosts, nest boxes, and run as a preventative, as well as using Sweet PDZ in the coop and run as needed to keep things dry. 'As needed' is probably 3-4 times a year with the DE. This past summer and all the rain meant PDZ was used much more in the run than usual. I also use about 1 tablespoon of ACV (unfiltered, with the 'mother') in each gallon of drinking water for the healthy probiotics. Due to our unusually wet summer, I had a bout with cocci in 12 week old chickens about a month ago. Other than that, I've never had any other diseases. I truly worry more about my birds in the summer heat than I ever do in winter here.
>>>>>Sami looking for some wood to knock on since I said the 'never' word<<<<<
Below is a pic of my coop's winter ventilation. I can get temps down into the single digits, and the chickens have no problems. Chickens generate a lot of moisture just from breathing, and like I said, you have to have plenty of ventilation to get rid of it. You do not want to seal them up in there. Check out the book link, it's a good informative read about the need for fresh air in a coop.

I live near Carrollton GA, which is due west of Atlanta almost to the Alabama border. That means I'm probably a little further south than you and a little higher elevation. It is good to know that you don't worry too much about the cold. This summer has been so mild I am kinda worried about the winter! But the little chickens do have nice feather coats to keep them warm.
The only time I've seen lice around where we live is about 10 years ago when some wild birds infected some horses (weird, huh?) But Sevin dust treated them too. What is Sweet PDZ? Is that like the lime that folks put down in horses' stall to keep it dry? Can you tell 99.9% of my farm experience has been with equines?! LOL And what is ACV? Does that help with worms or digestion or what?
I know most of the people that live around here have had chickens for years and years. And I don't know anybody that has talked about mites or other scary disease. But reading posts on here has me a bit paranoid!
Whoa- that is a cool link! It will take me some time to read through that book, but the very first thing it mentions is the value of sunlight and fresh air! And if we got that much snow where we live the whole world would shut down, Your chickens look quite happy with their cute little house.

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