what do I need to do for winter?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Chicken and cat guy, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. Chicken and cat guy

    Chicken and cat guy New Egg

    Aug 6, 2011
    Hey everyone,

    I'm fairly new at this whole thing- just got two RIR this summer. I have a small A-frame coop for them. They are doing great! I'm concerned as it gets colder though... in Ohio it's regularly in the 20s and can go down as low as 0 degrees F in the winter. I'm just wondering what to do for winter. I've read about putting a light bulb in the coop for warmth, do I need to leave it on 24/7? Also, do I need a metal waterer with a heater underneath? I just have a cheap $10 pet watering thing from WalMart. My girls are free range during the day- I have a 12" by 12" hole they hop in and out of... I was thinking of putting a clear plastic flap over the door to keep the wind out. Will they figure out how to push through this? Lastly, my coop is about 10" off the ground. Will I need to put extra wood chips down to keep the floor from getting cold? It's 3/8" ply.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If a chicken is dry, they warm themselves and keep themselves warm under their down coats.
    Don't leave a light on 24/7. It disturbs their needed sleep. Fire risk increases as well.
    Feed them well, later in the day, and they'll use those calories to keep warm.
    A heated pet dish is just right, imho. I use these, but set a one gallon ice cream plastic pail in. Easier to exchange.

    You might want to actually have a real door, rather than just a flap, but see how it goes.
    Having some extra chips in the run is not a bad idea.
  3. Chicken and cat guy

    Chicken and cat guy New Egg

    Aug 6, 2011
    cool, thanks for the tips! I will set the light on a timer. I do have a wooden door that's hinged at the top, but I only close it at night to keep the coons out. Can I just leave it open during the day?
  4. VelvettFog

    VelvettFog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 7, 2011
    Yakima, WA
    The real concern here is drafts. If your birds are protected from drafts they will do fine in your area. Only use lights to encourage egg production. If you provide added warmth from the light the birds will not properly develop their winter 'coat'. Should that heat source suddenly go out, your birds would be at risk due to lack of said coat.

  5. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    A light is not necessary unless you are trying to extend the amount of light your girls are getting to keep them laying. We have a tractor that our girls stayed in all winter. We put bales of hay around the bottom of it to cut down the wind and give them a place to hang out underneath the tractor out of the wind during the winter. The pop door was opened every day unless there was a snowstorm. We have no lights in our tractor, just natural light from the vents and doors. My dh made a cookie tin heater for their waterer and that worked well and was cheap. You can find it on the forum if you type in cookie tin heater. The waterer is a metal one. I did keep a black rubber waterer in the run for them as well and just knocked out the ice and filled it with warm water. We had days this past winter when it was -20 and they were fine. As long as there are no drafts they will be fine. My girls went out every day unless we had a storm. They impatiently bawked at me when I was shoveling out their run cause they wanted out. I do use the deep litter method during the winter months. The key is to make sure the litter stays dry and is turned over. Lastly, make sure you have plenty of ventilation. I open the exterior door on my tractor on sunny days so that sun and fresh air can move through the tractor and the girls like to bask in the sun in the comfort of their tractor. Hope this helps.
  6. Chicken and cat guy

    Chicken and cat guy New Egg

    Aug 6, 2011
    thank you so much for the replies everyone! It looks like i'm doing a lot of worrying about nothing haha. I'll make sure I put down extra wood chips and get a heated water dish.

    Thanks again [​IMG]
  7. goldies99

    goldies99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2011
    DO NOT put a heat light in the coop.....i undersatnd it isnt really good to have the chickens get ues to extra heat as they do not need it!...they make enough heat on there own!
    i am new to chicken as well and thought the same thing!.....just keep them dry and out of drafts.... i guess that will do the trick!
  8. wyododge

    wyododge Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 30, 2011
    A rule of thumb I use is to look at wild birds. Specifically pheasant. The roost in trees, eat snow for water, dig for grain and rocks, and seem to do just fine. Now they don't have to produce eggs everyday but they are also not provided daily rations so I think it all evens out in the end. At -20f chickens run about like a cool fall day. They love it. As stated a dry well ventilated coop is best with just mother nature for heat, and your for predator protection. And maybe a light to make sure you get your breakfast too...

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