winter care

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kdwag, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. kdwag

    kdwag Chirping

    Jul 14, 2012
    Northwest Ohio
    I'm new to chickens and my girls are 5 weeks today and still in their brooder. I'm hoping to move them to their coop in a week or two. Do you need to put food and water inside their coop at night. I'm still not sure what to expect over the winter as far as what they will need inside and outside in their run.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    This depends on how you manage them. If you let them out to where the food and water is shortly after they wake up, you do not need food and water in the coop. They’ll act starved when you let them out, but they will be fine. If you leave them locked up for hours after sunrise, you probably should leave food and water in the coop. They will not eat or drink at night if it is dark. It's how soon they can get to food and water after they wake up that is important. In your area, I'd guess you get nights maybe 15 hours long, so they will be hungry when they wake up.

    As far as what to expect, a lot of that depends on your coop, your set-up, and how you manage them. You are going to get snow in that area. Mine don’t like snow when they first see it, but after a few days most of them get used to it and will go out walking in it. Mine go out foraging with the temperatures below zero Fahrenheit as long as a cold wind is not blowing. If a cold wind is blowing, they seek shelter. I’ve had chickens walk through 9” of snow to check out the compost heap. Mine don’t like snow the first couple of days, but they do get used to it if it sticks around a few days.

    If your coop is big enough, everything should be fine. If your coop is tight, you probably want to arrange a place outside where the wind is blocked and maybe keep snow from building up. A lot of people use tarps around their run to do this.

    One thing to expect is that you might worry about them being cold. Don’t, as long as they have reasonable protection. The coop needs to be pretty draft-free yet well ventilated. You achieve this by having vent openings over their heads so the wind does not blow directly on them when they are sleeping. Plenty of us have seen them sleep in trees in zero degree weather. They find a place protected from wind and sleep the night away. Their down coat keeps them warm.

    Don’t worry about them in the daytime. They can take care of themselves.

    Your water will freeze unless you do something about it. If you decide to heat the water, be very careful. You’ll soon start to see posts where people burned the coop down heating the water. There are safe ways to do it, just be careful. Some people change the water out a couple of times a day. Lots of people provide thawed water first thing in the morning and again in the late afternoon before they go to bed and the chickens do fine. I use those black rubber bowls from Tractor Supply. When they freeze, I just turn them over and stomp the ice out or bang them against something hard, like the ground. They don’t break. On days you have sunlight, if the sun hits the black bowl the water will stay thawed pretty well.

    That’s about it. Consider their space requirements when they are snowed in and a cold wind is blowing and figure out how to give them water. That should be all you need to do for winter in Northwest Ohio. It does not have to be hard. Good luck!!!
  3. BeulahBreezes

    BeulahBreezes Songster

    Mar 31, 2012
    Western NY
    Thank you 'ridgerunner'......your info is very helpful to me also, as I am a 1st time chicken raiser too! ~Beulah
  4. kdwag

    kdwag Chirping

    Jul 14, 2012
    Northwest Ohio
    Thanks for the great information. I keep reminding myself that they are chickens and will do find with some common sense on my end but right now they seem like helpless little babies, even though they are getting to be quite big. The coop I have is a pre fabbed one and i absolutely hate it now that i sort of know what i'm doing. So, i just need it to get us through winter and we'll be building a new one in the spring. Their run is well covered and i will put a few tarps on the sides that get the most wind so they can go outside during the day. The coop isn't very large so my dilemma was trying to figure out where i would even put food or water. I'm hoping we have a winter like last year-- mild temps and no snow. LOL We'll see...

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