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Small Flock Winter Heat Option - Deep Litter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by PandCo, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. PandCo

    PandCo In the Brooder

    Oct 17, 2016
    Eau Claire, WI
    Hello all,

    I know it isn't exactly the time to be thinking about winter, but I'm already concerned for the one that will be coming. I have a small flock of three birds who are always out in their covered outdoor run. I've been using sand as bedding both in the run and henhouse and it works great for clean up and water drainage and of course the ladies love bathing in it all the time.

    During the wintertime it gets very cold here in Wisconsin and I feel that they are not nearly comfortable enough in the henhouse. I know, I've read a lot about how surprisingly hardy chickens are in the winter but when it gets so cold and windy, I'm always worrying about them! Before winter, I take every precaution possible to ensure the girls have adequate ventilation but no drafts. All that good winter prep stuff.

    I was thinking about doing a deep litter method because I've heard it creates heat for the girls in the winter which would be perfect. The problem is that I've read that it isn't a good idea to do it out in the run because water from rain and snow has a chance of getting to it. And from my reasoning I don't think it would be a good idea in the henhouse because the girls don't spend much time in there even in the winter so they won't stir it up as much as it needs to be and I don't know if I want to be doing their job for them in the winter!

    Does anyone have any suggestions or are under similar circumstances and have found a different solution for wintertime?

  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Chicken tender Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Hello fellow Wisconsinite. Deep litter will not work here, it's too cold during the winter and it freezes hard inside and out.

    My chickens do fine, though I feel a bit of guilt staying in my warm house while my birds are out in the cold temperatures. Have good insulation can keep the coop a bit warmer.

    I have seen some folks put up greenhouse type structures over their runs, or they put clean panels that will block the winds and allow the sun in, we are going to try some version of it this next winter hopefully.

    I would probably put hay or straw over the sand in winter, than clean it off as it warms if you want to keep the sand.

    I have deep litter in my bantam run, and in winter I put down hay to give them something to stand on, so you can certainly do it, but it won't heat up like you are thinking.
  3. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Crowing

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada

    I am subject to -40º weather l live in Canada think North Pole. I have been keeping chickens and birds for decades.

    Your best practice I find is to not be too concerned about winterizing or heating your coop to help your birds combat the cold.

    Predator proofing "ABSOLUTELY".

    Your efforts should be spent in winterizing your birds and letting them acclimatize to their surroundings.
    This is done by feeding them whole corn as an added supplement in a separate feeder.

    The extra nourishment is more then adequate to bring them through the
    "COLDEST" winter.

    Do keep an eye open for birds that maybe not be adapting well to the new menu and may be at the lower end of the pecking order they can sometimes run into problems and may need extra TLC.

    That being said in a perfect world the flock will flourish and do just fine .

    I do not add any extra heat or lighting.
    Egg production does slack off but I have more than enough eggs for the table all winter long (24 hens).

    Some people may disagree with my method but it has worked well for me and I am not about to change.

    I look at it in the same light as winterizing your car.

    You really do


    have to winterize your car if you can keep it in a controlled environment at all times otherwise you are in for

    "MAJOR" problems.

    When it comes to lighting if you find you are short on eggs it does apparently help. I personally do not bother in my operation eggs are sold only to neighbours when they are available (if the sign is out I have eggs). Eggs in my operation have a tendency to crack and freeze during the winter months (we do not discard them and are fine but use them in house not for sale) the more eggs you produce during these months the more eggs will fall into this category.

    I have roughly 24 Golden Comet hens the longest I ever been out of eggs can be measured in hours >12<24. You will find that the egg supply in any hen is a finite resource the quicker you milk the eggs out of a hen the faster it will be spent and end up in your stew pot.

    On average one hen produces somewhere between 600 to 700 eggs in its life time. Lighting only effect the speed of delivery of the eggs which at the end of the day would amount to less than a year in the hens life is my guess

    If you do decide extra lighting is necessary have your light on a timer to lengthen the day "MAKE SURE IT IS SECURED BY 2 MEANS OF SUPPORT" one being a "SAFETY CHAIN" in case one fails especially if it is an incandescent bulb or heat lamp.

    I personally raise hens as a hobby; and for their manure to enrich my vegetable garden any thing else the hens provide is merely a bonus.

    Here is one BONUS NOW not many people can enjoy seeing in their back yard on a regular basis.


    Nest boxes
    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new. Feed bags are a nylon mesh bag.
    Frozen poop just peels off in below freezing temperatures and just flakes off in summer when left out in the sun to bake and dry.

    I have 65 trips around the sun it is the best method I have stumbled upon.

    Make sure the twine is removed from the open end of the bag it can get tangled around your birds.



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