Preparing Your Flock & Coop for WINTER

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by iwiw60, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. CanaDawn

    CanaDawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    At that temperature, I would say they can handle direct wind too. Heck, if i had to put my chickens away at that temperature, they would be out about ten days all year. That's t-shirt weather, pushing towards shorts as well!
    Silkies are pretty cold-hardy for their size. I have one to help keep my teeny little Seramas warm, but if I had three I wouldn't worry about them until below freezing, for sure.
     
  2. auntphibian

    auntphibian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    they say if you use any kind of heat in the coop you could cause the chickens harm when they leave the coop, as the shock to their system would plummet their temperature too quickly.
     
  3. CanaDawn

    CanaDawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think we have to consider this rationally.

    IF it's super cold out, AND you heat a lot, THEN maybe it would be tough on them...but their feathers have the same mechanism as other birds and they can "fluff" them out to trap warm air against their bodies and stay warm (as long as they are dry). This is, I believe, the same reason that a windy day means they can tolerate less cold, because it blows that trapped warm air away from their skin (just like why windchill doesn't lower the actual temperature, but does mean you get to that "real temp" quicker - and why warm clothes work...they aren't warm clothes - you are a warm body, and they work to trap the heat YOU produce against your skin, instead of having it dissipate to the environment.)

    It all depends, I think, on what the actual temperatures ARE. You're just not going to freeze to death at 17C/63F, even if you feel a little chilly if you're used to something warmer.

    Consuming more energy/food is necessary as the temperatures drop because that's what your body uses to produce heat energy. To a point, that will be enough to allow your body to stay warm. Birds have the advantage of having mobile "clothing" that they can puff up or sleek down to trap more or less body heat.

    I just don't think if they have free access in and out of a heated space, they are at THAT big of a risk of being harmed by the temperature difference, although you can probably conserve energy and money by hitting the right point of balance, and a lot of people dislike using heat lamps because of their concern about fires. Chickens will decide where they are comfortable when they have a choice, and people are observing their hens going in to warm up and coming back out as they please.

    I agree with other comments that being dry is a big deal, because wet feathers (and clothes) aren't as insulative any more. Wet skin also cools faster, which is where frozen combs and wattles become a problem.

    Not providing heat to my chickens would be abusive, imo, because it is VERY cold here and they are VERY small. Not providing heat in warmer climates (including those that dip below freezing), or with more chickens of larger size is really not such a big deal. We kept larger chickens where it regularly dipped to or below -40 (F or C take your pick) and other than a few comb tips that froze, they were fine without heat. They would have been fine with heat too, I'm sure.

    My difficulty is knowing what these very different birds I now have can handle, or I wouldn't be following this thread. You have to know what temperatures you're talking about, both inside or out, and I think blanket statements aren't as helpful as knowing the reasons and the limits. I have two heat lamps, one small, one large, and I will use the one that seems appropriate based on what I am observing, and the ambient temps.

    I feel a little worried that this post will be misinterpreted, but having struggled with what to do with my own hens only because they are so tiny, and having watched them over this last very cold week (-26C/whatever that is F) - I'd rather know what signs to watch for that they are warm enough, vs being told not to provide any heat without considering what actual temperatures I'm dealing with, and the specifics of my little flock. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  4. ronkonkoma

    ronkonkoma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh I am not ready to put them in for the winter. It's still I the 30s at night. It does get very cold here in the winter. Last year was days and days below zero, the pipes inside my home froze. They year before was a blizzard over 3 feet of snow! LOL. I figured I'll wait until the highs are in the 20s/30s.
     
  5. annabelle12

    annabelle12 Out Of The Brooder

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    Erin - its good for air exchange to be happening in the coop. You don't want wind blowing directly on the birds, but ventilation is important to release the moisture from the birds breathing at night and their droppings. As far as keeping them entertained, you could try hanging produce so they have to jump up and get it. I would hang a half cabbage in the run for the girls on the coldest days when they chose not to be out free ranging and that kept them entertained for quite awhile! The girls will likely want to be out in the run even in the cold, so blocking the wind as suggested is a good idea.
     
  6. henless

    henless Chillin' With My Peeps

    I finished winterizing my coop yesterday. Good thing, temps are 25 here this morning.

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    I have 2 heavy duty, clear shower curtains on the West side. I put the grommets on the bottom, screwed them in with washers and used screws/washers along the sides. They weren't long enough to reach the top board under the run roof, so I put a board across the top to keep the curtains from flapping. I put a large, clear trash bag over the open window on the side. It's not as see through as the curtains, but it was a perfect fit, so I went with it instead.There is a vent along the wall up above the run roof, so should get enough air for venting. I will be leaving the end of the coop (South side) open.



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    I put another trash bag on the window above the nesting box on the right. There is a 2ft vent above this window for air exchange. It will remain open. The rest of this East wall I left open for air flow.



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    Here are the vents I have up above the roost. Originally, I had intended to leave them open, but decided there was too much air flow coming in. These are facing the North. I went ahead and put plastic over them. I'm hoping since the roof is slanted up toward the nest box, that the moist air will follow the roof line and exit out the 2' vent that is over the nesting box.


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    I like using the clear shower curtains and trash bags for wind blockage. It still lets in a lot of light, and the curtains are see through. The trash bags are not as see through, but light does get through them. On the left is open wire, on the right are the shower curtains. Still see through, just not as clear as no plastic.

    I was off yesterday, so went out and hung up the last trash bag across the right vent over the roost. The North wind was blowing and I was freezing my butt off. I went inside the coop to hang up their tether ball and do a few things. It was cold in there, but not near as cold as outside. You could really tell the difference by blocking off all the wind. I plan on getting a thermometer to put in the coop this weekend to see if there is any difference.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Fletch83

    Fletch83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, that looks really good! I bet you have some happy chickens! It really does make a huge difference once you eliminate the wind chill. [​IMG]
     
  8. jtn42248

    jtn42248 Overrun With Chickens

    Just stick a recliner in there and give me a good book to read and I will move in with your chickens. Great work!!![​IMG]
     
  9. iwiw60

    iwiw60 Overrun With Chickens

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  10. ReillyJ

    ReillyJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Snohomish, WA
    SO CONCERNED about my hens...

    i think it got to low 20's last night and frigid this morning. have the entrances to their run blocked off (they don't like it there now anyway w/the enclosure plastic) and the 2 doors you see to the run are blocked off..and just a few places for ventilation but it's FREEZING.

    i think i have to insulate that coop somehow even though NW winters are mild compared to the rest of the country--obviously we can have some frigid weather and it came early

    ANY idea on how to insulate that won't be a huge endeavor? I thought about hay bales but that would only work on 2 sides of the coop :(

    Maybe i can buy insulation and put it between the boards and then try to figure out what to cover it with?? ugh i only have a few daylight hours!

    WORRIED!
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