Question about Winter and chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickieChris, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. ChickieChris

    ChickieChris In the Brooder

    Aug 14, 2013
    By the time winter comes to us in eastern NC my hens will be fully feathered but I was wondering will I still need to have a light on in the coop at night as a source of heat or will they be ok without a heat source? Also on the rare occasion we do get snow....sometimes even a lot of snow although that is extremely rare...what do I need to do for them on those occasions? Will they be okay scratching around in a snow covered yard or will I need to keep them in their coop or shovel the snow?
  2. Eastern North Carolina is down right balmy compared to Canada and the northern tier of states where 1000's of BYC members keep their chickens with no added heat at all. They are clothed by nature in a thick, down coat.

    As for shoveling the snow, you sure can. I just cannot imagine the number of days that snow is on the ground in eastern NC. Here, the snow pack last for months. I do plow out run ways for them. On sunny days, they love being out. But, nonetheless, they'll spend a whole lot more time in the barn during winter. For that reason, the commonly held rules of density of chickens per square foot thing so often quoted here goes right out the window.

    You'll be just fine.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  3. McGobs

    McGobs Chirping

    Jun 13, 2012
    I'm in the far north east...Central Maine to more precise. The only source of heat I have in an uninsulated 8x8 coop, is a submersible fish tank heater to keep their water from freezing. And thats it. My grandfather once told me that giving them a source of heat could hinder their feather growth.

    I do let them free range in the winter...but I have found they go through a lot more chicken feed when the ground is covered with snow. I say they free range...but in my expirience, they don't care a lot for the snow. They will walk where its shoveled and plowed, but a snow bank makes a good fence. I shovel a path from the coop to the plowed driveway...and thats where they end up all the driveway.
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    As long as your coop doesn't have air blowing right on the chickens (drafts) they will be fine. Airflow is necessary but ideally would be such that only one side of the coop is open and up high so the wind doesn't blow right on them.

    They won't like the snow and may decide to stay inside the coop if it is deep. For shallow snow they will walk around in it if they are large fowl. Bantams not so much.
  5. Veer67

    Veer67 Songster

    x2, whenever my hens see snow they make strange clucking noises and refuse to get out of their coop.
  6. ChickieChris

    ChickieChris In the Brooder

    Aug 14, 2013
    Thanks all! I probably won't have to worry about the snow much. Around here IF it snows and sticks it is usually gone by the next day. Its been 4 years since our last BIG snow fall and that was probably a foot and was on the ground maybe a week. Thanks for addressing my concerns about both the snow and the cold.
    On another note my 5 week old chicks have started putting themselves to bed in their coop already. They are such smart girls and I am a proud mama!

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