What to do with cold/wet weather...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Balboaroc, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. Balboaroc

    Balboaroc Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 2, 2009
    Carroll County, MD
    This is our first year with a flock and DH and I had been debating about what to do in the winter. We are leaning towards not bothering to light the house for additional eggs but will use the heat bulb we used in the brooder when it gets cold enough outside. Is this enough heat for our flock? I was thinking of using it when it gets to the 30's. We live in Maryland so there will be plenty of cold days coming.

    At any rate here in Maryland we are on day 3 I think of cold rainy all day weather. My flock loves being in the rain and these past few days are no exception. Their run isn't covered so I have been letting them free range like usual for part of the day and I'm guessing they know they can always come under my open porch for cover.

    But what about a night time..especially when the flock is getting so wet. Should I bother with heat on these nights? I think it was in the 40's last night.

    I picked our birds since they are known to be hearty...RIR, NHR, a cochin, a sex link, and a wyandotte..so I'm hoping what I read is true and they can handle this.

    I'm also considering with winter coming to put a tarp over part of the run..might help a part stay dry if they choose to stay under it. Though I don't think they will.

    Anyhow I'm looking for any thoughts and advice.

  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi, welcome to BYC!

    There are a bunch of threads on chickens and cold and winter coop management that you will want to look at. Also you might want to take a peek ta my 'cold coop' page, link in .sig below.

    In MD you would not normally need heat unless you have unusually non-cold-tolerant breeds or a poorly managed (poorly ventilated, very humid) coop.

    If you *did* ever want heat on a very cold night (which we are not even close to that time of year yet), it is likely that a 60 or 100w bulb over the roost would be more than sufficient, no need to go for the big electric-bill buster (and fire hazard) of an actual heat lamp.

    It can be useful to put a tarp or some such on one to three *sides* of the run, to provide shelter from the wind; but you wanna really watch out with putting one on top, b/c unless you have very very sturdy support for it (basically a solid roof with strong bracing) a wet snowfall will not only take the tarp down but potentially take some of your run framing down WITH it, which you sure don't want! Roofing the run CAN be done (and my runs are all roofed, actually), but it's a lot bigger project than just stretching out a tarp.

    Basically chickens are quite hardy for MD-style winters (I grew up just outside Philly) as long as you have enough ventilation in the coop to keep the air dry and draft-free.

    Good luck, have fun,

  3. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    Hi! You are farther north, but we have similar winters- cold and wet.

    I don't use artificial heat unless it goes below 32*. But mine have a snug coop to go into at night. You didn't mention a coop at all? Might be time to start building one. It doesn't have to be fancy, just something they can get out of the wind and rain, as well as be protected from predators.

    A tarp over part of the run would be great, the tricky part is keeping the snow and rain from accumulating on it.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009

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