Starting to prepare for winter

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Jeffross1968, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    LOL, how many of you are sitting in 100 degree heat and read the subject line and cussed me out at the top of your lungs? Hee hee..

    Anyway, I know that egg laying tends to decrease in winter, though how much more you can decrease from zero eggs today (the heat? I dunno...), is beyond me. But, while I don't want to burn my girls out way before their time, "some" eggs will be required to get us through the cold winter months. I thought about maybe using a lamp in the coop, but have a couple questions...

    1) Lamp for there a certain color or wattage that works well for a pretty typical 4x8 coop?

    2) Wanting to continue some laying but without burning them out, how much light in a day, including lamp time, should I shoot for?

    3) Lamp for warming...I've read some people say, in climates much like mine (Western NC), they only really take action if there is extreme extended cold, say...sub 20 degrees for a couple days? The breeds I have are listed in my sig...are there any I should worry about in temps before getting to 20? Are there heating options that won't include light so they can sleep?

    4) Pretty sure the only ones I need to really worry about comb-wise, are the brown leghorns...maybe my BR. Bag balm on the comb? How often? Reapplied every night?

    5) Tweak the food? Is layer and the occasional green table scrap ok to get them through the winter? How about a specific treat fed during the day to increase body temp during the night?

    6) Anything winter related to keep my chickens safe and comfortable I might not be considering?

    I do plan on going deeper with the pine shavings, but I don't see how that's going to help when the sleep on a roost. Their roosts are at a height that puts their heads by upper vents. I was thinking of getting a tarp that would block a cold wind certain nights, but away from the vents so as to allow the vents to do their jobs still.

    With a vacation coming up and the boys going back to school and general every day chaos, I don't want to wait until the last second to start figuring these things out. So, yeah, I know, it's hot enough to melt iron outside...but don't let that discourage you from thinking about cooler weather with me!! [​IMG]
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Can't answer all your questions, sorry. But light-wise: I've put an ordinary 100W bulb in the chicken coop and a timer switches it on when it gets dark, 'till 20:00 and again 05:00 'till it gets light. I'm getting loads of eggs. I did hear that this can wear hens out a bit sooner than normal though. Unfortunately I'm relying on the eggs for our income. So I have to do this.
    I added another feed, am feeding them a full meal in the morning, a smaller meal around 14:00 and another 18:00. When I fed them extra food the egg production dropped. So I just divide their usual ration into 3 meals.
    I've heard that piling straw bales around your coop helps insulate it. No need for that here where I live though.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2011
  3. Love my Critters!

    Love my Critters! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Carlsbad, NM
    [​IMG] Ha Ha when I read your subject line I thought... I don't think winter is coming this year! Well as for the light you can use just a 100 watt light bulb. Those are beginning to get harder to find due to the new energy efficient bulbs (that don't put off heat). You can shut the light off about 8pm if you are using it for added light for laying. If you want it for the heat you will need to leave it on. You can get a red light that won't keep your chickens up but will produce heat for them during the cold winter nights and protect against frost bite. I don't know anything about bagbalm for this. You can feed scratch, which is a mixture of grains and corn, from the feed store once a day during the winter as a treat. The sugary corn helps raise their body temperature. Hope this will help a little.

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