What happens during a big snowstorm?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by momofonly, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. momofonly

    momofonly In the Brooder

    Aug 30, 2010
    Hi All,

    I'm new to this forum, and trying to decide whether to keep some chickens (for eggs/pets) or a rabbit. We have a good sized backyard, part of which is enclosed by a six-foot high privacy fence. We have only one neighbor on the side whose yard is at quite a distance. We are also allowed to have chickens on our property.

    I'm envisioning the coop and run being placed on one side of the privacy fence. I'm in Massachusetts and we always have snowy winters, some more extreme than others. It is not uncommon for us to have 2 or more feet of snow blanketing the backyard in January and February. I have visions of the henhouse being buried in snow after a big storm. Has anyone else dealt with this?

  2. CoyoteMagic

    CoyoteMagic RIP ?-2014

    If you are lucky enough to have electric in your coop you will have no problems. Elec is to keep the water from freezing with a water heater. Other than that, your chickens will do fine. We have folks who live in Alaska who have no insulation in their coops whatsoever and their birds are healthy. A nice sized window for lots of light or you could add an electric light. I'm in NC I don't give my girls extra light, no insulation, and I go change the water a couple times a day because there is no electric in the coop for a heater.
  3. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Last winter, in Ohio, we had ALOT of snow like that. I literally had to shovel a path to the chickens and shovel out an area for them to walk around in. They were afraid to go outside since it was their first winter. My husband and I covered our chicken run with tarps, and we added some heat lights so that they would have more room. They seemed to enjoy the shelter from the wind and snow. I did have to go out and brush the snow off the top when it got too thick, and when the sun would shine, it would drip. Very annoying. So hubby is going to put a roof on our run before winter, then I'll just put some tarps on the sides to block out the wind. I think we did a good job though last year....we didn't lose a single chicken, and none of them got any frostbite either.
  4. WoodChic

    WoodChic The Chic Chick

    Oct 27, 2009
    KKV HQ
    Quote:Well where we live we get up to 5 feet of snow, though not ususally. Usually we haave about 2 - 4 feet throughout the winter. We have a rather large coop, so the snow could definetly not cover it. [​IMG] It is about 7 feet high, and the snow tends not to get very high around the coop. But if you had a low to the ground coop, couldn't you shovel it out? We shovel tons of paths in the winter, to the chicken coop and so forth. Our chickens tend to be fine in the winter, and our coop is un-insulated. Hope this helps. [​IMG]
  5. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    Quote:Don't worry, big snow storms NEVER fall on chicken coops in Massachusetts...., especially not nor'easters that last for two days.

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2010
  6. We had one of the snowiest Winters in recent memory here in southern Virginia this past year. The biggest problem I had was keeping the snow from breaking the bird netting over the run. A couple of times per day I had to go shake the netting to make the snow fall through. I managed to keep the netting mostly in one piece, so I'd call that a victory.

    The chickens were NOT amused by the white stuff. I would clear a spot (with my boot or the shovel if needed) and put down warm water and feed near the house. I had built a "cave" of hay bales and placed their house inside, then covered the whole thing with a tarp. The idiots preferred to roost on top of the hay bales! After the first foot of snow, they discovered that the house inside the "cave" was warmer.

    I would say the chickens did better in the snow than they have done in this heat. They learned to put aside differences and snuggle together for warmth. Two of my roosters had tiny spots of black on the very tips of their large combs. I think this was frostbite. As soon as the weather improved, the spots went away, so no permanent damage was done. The hens started laying only every other day or so but I expected that.

    If I had to do this past Winter all over again, I would have gotten electricity out the the run for a heat lamp for those coldest days. Carrying milk jugs of hot water outside was a bit of a pain, but a heated waterer would have taken care of that.

    I think the biggest thing to remember is being able to open the door or gate to get to the birds to bring them food and water. This might mean going outside to shovel when you'd rather be inside warm!
  7. Orchid

    Orchid Songster

    May 10, 2010
    North Central MN
    I'm laughing...just a little bit, mind you [​IMG]...because being from Minnesota, well, it seems only natural that everything and anything be buried in snow for part of the year. [​IMG]

    I have an A frame type run and I plan to sheet the sloped sides with plastic, leaving the end open and a small portion at the top ridge for ventilation, so it won't condense and drip on the chickens. That way I can easily scrape off any snow that might not slide off the plastic and keep a nice hay covered floor for them in the run. The coop itself is up on legs and to get into it I open one side of the roof, so I'm definitely going to have to keep up on the snow removal there.

    Have shovel and sled, will get around the yard somehow! [​IMG]
  8. momofonly

    momofonly In the Brooder

    Aug 30, 2010
    Wow, so many great replies already, thanks! [​IMG] My husband wanted to put in electricity for a lightbulb. We thought that would help a little with the warmth. I should probably mention that I wanted to have a small number, between two and four hens. Would they generate enough heat to keep warm in the coop?

    I can shovel, I'm just worried about the coop being buried before I can shovel it all out. Will they be OK while they wait to get shoveled out?
  9. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    I think one of the most important things is to have a coop/covered run that can withstand the weight of snow (wet snow is very heavy). You can't always get outside to broom the snow off, especially during a blizzard. Last winter I remember several bycers reporting their coop and / or runs just collapsed under the heavy snow and some chickens were crushed etc. If you have a good, solid structure and maybe tarp the sides of the runs I think you will get thru just fine.

    Take the advice of those posting ahead of me about heat lamps and heated waterers and hay bales. Please research the threads on the importance of ventilation in winter, so consensation doesn't form inside the coop and cause frostbite.
  10. joeyg4583

    joeyg4583 Songster

    Mar 26, 2009
    Cedarburg, Wi
    I am worrying about this too. I am researching ways to keep a nipple waterer unfrozen. I think I will also make my run covered. We don't get a lot of snow but I don't want to deal with a messy muddy run when it does. I am also doing sand in my run to help with drainage. Many of the heavy breeds of chickens are well suited for cold weather so I would stick with those breeds if possible.

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