I'm pretty much a newbie myself, but a fellow Finger Laker. FWIW, here's what we did: insulated the chicken house on all sides, the floor, doors and the ceiling, and covered all that with 7/16 plywood. We have double pane windows. We'll have two heat lamps, plenty of litter and straw, and we'll be covering the chicken doors with 20 gauge plastic cut into strips, so when the doors are open during the day, the drafts will be kept to a minimum (hopefully). On really ugly days we we'll keep everyone inside with the doors closed.
Hopefully that will keep and 8x6 house warm enough to not worry about frozen water. I had planned on throwing straw down outside to help protect the birds feet and to keep mud under control. I also heard that vaseline should be rubbed on combs and wattles to help prevent frostbite, so I'll do that too.
Short of putting them in little chicken parkas and booties (don't laugh, you should see my dogs out in the snow), I can't think of much else...
I am curious about lighting. Our days are now down to 12hrs of daylight. How much light should I put into the coop? What kind? Incandescent or flourescent? How bright do they need? Should I keep the lights on all day or just for a few extra hours at night?
We are getting about one egg/day from our 6 birds but the 3 leghorns are now getting a bunch of new feathers and undergoing a definite personality change, chasing the RRs away from any goodies we throw them. Hoping for more eggs/day soon.
I had horrible fighting and aggression issues when I supplemented light, not to mention it's hard on a hen's system to be kept in constant production. It's fine if you're going to cull in a year but if your hens are pets or potential pets it's easier on them and your checkbook to let them take time off when they need it.
If you want to keep them in production I think they need 12-14 hours a day and it doesn't have to be very bright. I think many supplement light in the morning to add the necessary hours and let dusk fall naturally because having the lights go off suddenly and leaving them in the dark would make it hard for them to find the roost. Also I find they stuff themselves before roosting to see them through the night. If they don't know dark is coming they may not get enough to eat.
I was surprised but even without artificial lights during their second winter laying hardly decreased at all. Despite the fact we're in Minnesota and days get very short and cold.
For max I'd say drain and coil the hoses after every use so they don't freeze. Water in winter is the most difficult issue especially when you live in a super cold climate.
We were planning to put them in the crockpot when cold weather came but we were also planning on getting 3-4 eggs/day out of 6 chickens:/
Might have to keep them going until the snow gets deep (Jan normally) just to get our investment back in eggs. Now that the wife has got involved with the feeding and egg collecting we might even try to keep them til Easter.....By then I expect that she will want some day olds
This will be my first winter with chickens too...looking for all the advice I can get. Another post about lighting on the egglaying board suggests not using light for 6 weeks in winter to let birds molt and rest. I'm assuming they need some light for heat, ao how long to reduce and what 6 weeks would you pick (last 6 weeks of winter, coldest month of winter, etc..)?
I have a heated bowl for water, the frozen water is always the biggest issue on our farm (cattle). donna
We're going to put bales of hay around the base of the run to cut the snow drift and bitter winds through the hardware cloth. We're also considering using some vapor seal on one end of the run wall (it's roofed) to cut the harshness of the wind but keep the ventilation adequate. The coop is insulated, I'm wondering how to improve drafts through the pop door- I'm leery of using plastic in case the girls shred and swallow it.