Winter Approaching- Managing Chickens In The Winter Questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Petersingh, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. Petersingh

    Petersingh In the Brooder

    Sep 9, 2014
    Good morning everyone!

    I'm writing to this message board from Toronto, Canada.
    As many of us in the north know, that winter is coming... in Alberta, its already here!

    Since this is the first time I have incubated eggs, and raised a flock, I have couple questions about the winter that looks like its fast approaching.

    1. What temperature do you try to maintain in your chicken coop during the winter?
    2. Do you let your flock out into the snow?
    3. How do you maintain a clean coop in the winter? Put shavings down and change them every week or something?
    4. Do hen's continue to lay eggs as normal in the winter?

    Another beginner's question- do they require a night light of some sort?


  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Songster

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    The days are getting shorter aren't they?
    To answer your question.
    1 I let my coops go to what ever temperature they go to. Chickens can take more cold then most novices believe they can. Of course my temperatures don't drop to what yours will so someone who has experience with temps below my -5F might have better guidance.
    2. I open the door for my chickens and they can go as they please in the snow. Some like some people never take to the snow.
    3. The deep litter method works for me. Don't have to clean the coop when its real cold and the deep litter helps keep the temperature up.
    4. Once they are over the fall molt and the days start to get longer they will lay. So be ready to gather the eggs before they freeze.
    No light at night is necessary.
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Greetings from Minnesota! It gets cold here, too. We can get down to the -20's and sometimes -30's F.

    1. I do not heat my coops. I think it's far better for the chickens to acclimate to the cold than to have them used to a warm coop and possibly losing electricity or a heater failure and not be prepared for it. There is also the chance of a coop fire when using heat in the coop.
    2. My flock prefers not to go out in the snow when it gets deep. My DH does plow the driveway past their coop so they can go out where it's plowed if they want.
    3. I also use the deep litter method. I just keep adding straw. I clean it out once a year or so.
    4. If your chickens are in their first year of laying, they will most likely lay throughout the winter. As Den stated, be prepared to collect them before they freeze and burst.

    Mine don't get light at night, but I do have a light on a timer so they can have more than just a few hours of light daily.

    One thing I forgot to mention - it's very important to keep your coop well ventilated so the humidity can escape. Humidity is not your friend. It will cause frostbite even at relatively warmish temps.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    THINK DRY not warm! Dry chickens that are well fed are warm chickens. Wet chickens are cold chickens at much warmer temperatures. I put a lot of hay in the bottom of my coop, it absorbs a lot of moisture, I leave windows OPEN even at wayyyyyyy below zero. My windows open to the east. And I lower my roosts so that they are farther from the ceiling. When they are too close to the roof, that is where the moisture collects. They kept much drier last year, and I had much less frostbite.

    When I got started, I kept trying to close up the coop tight, hoping to trap warm air, but what you trap is moisture. Think of a car full of people once the heater is turned off...... within minutes, the windows fog up, and things start getting damp.

    If you have pullets, they should lay pretty well through the winter their first year, if they are laying before the days get too short. The older hens will lay occasionally the months of November - December, but should pick up with larger eggs come January. If your pullets did not start laying before December, they should start in January too. I don't add extra light.

    As for snow, where I live, snow tends to come, melt down or off and come again. If I hear of a storm coming, I create a mini hay stack in the run, and the next day, I flip it on top of the snow. My birds will come out then. As winter goes on, they get more used to the snow.

    I also have a large box that is open to the south in the run. In the winter, I lean a large piece of plexiglass on the south side, creating a little sun porch. I fill the floor with hay, and my birds are quite happy out there. It is open on both sides.
    Mrs K
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2014
    2 people like this.
  6. whittychick

    whittychick Songster

    Jul 28, 2013
    Cape cod
    Yes! Exactly what I do too!
  7. whittychick

    whittychick Songster

    Jul 28, 2013
    Cape cod
    Where do you live?
  8. chicken266

    chicken266 In the Brooder

    Sep 3, 2014
    You have some great questions there!!!

    1. You don't really have to maintain a temperature really if they are freezing or cold they will huddle for warmth or cuddle up in the corner. It depends if your pen is closed up and no gaps or open door.

    2.I don't think you shouldn't let them out as they might freeze to death :/ but if you wanted to let them out I would supervise them.

    3.yes shavings are good for warmth!

    4.sometimes they do but sometimes they don't most of the time they don't

    They do not require a night light unless they are 1-4 weeks ol

    I hope this helped good luck :cd

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