Winter & Chickens...?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Michigan Chickman, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. Michigan Chickman

    Michigan Chickman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 11, 2008
    SW Michigan
    Forgive me if this sounds silly or has been covered somewhere else. This is my first year with chickens and living in Michigan it's never to early to start thinking about winter (the best 6 months of the year [​IMG]). What do I need to know about taking care of my girls when the snow flies? Do chickens go out in the snow? How cold is too cold, if the coop is tight and draft free do I need supplimental heating? Do I need a higher energy feed?

    Thank you in advance for your help,

    37 RIR Hens & 3 Roos
     
  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    They do go out in the snow. They do enjoy winter.

    On those coldest of days and nights you'll want to make sure their house closes tight but has good ventilation and is draft free. Lock them in at roost time with some cracked corn for generating body heat and they will be fine.

    If the weather is below 20 you can put a little vaseline on their combs to help keep them from getting frost bite.

    Chickens are hearty. They do best when their needs are met and human attributes aren't fousted off on them.

    You'll see. It will be a long but tolerable winter for you and your chickens. [​IMG]
     
  3. AllChookUp

    AllChookUp Will Shut Up for Chocolate

    May 7, 2008
    Frozen Lake, MN
    Well stated, as usual, Miss Prissy. [​IMG]
     
  4. Michigan Chickman

    Michigan Chickman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 11, 2008
    SW Michigan
    Thank you MissPrissy. My coop is tight and has a good roof vent. I'm trying to picture myself putting vasoline on my rooster's comb, that'll be an America's Funniest Home Chickens moment [​IMG]
     
  5. mmajw

    mmajw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 31, 2008
    Maine
    You may want to get a water heater for your coop. You may also want to have wider roosts so they sit on their feet and keep themselves warm. If you have a round roost their toes go around and are exposed to the cold air and when you have a flat roost they are tucked right up under them. I use a 2x4 laying horizontal.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  6. Michigan Chickman

    Michigan Chickman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 11, 2008
    SW Michigan
    Great suggestion on the roost. Right now I'm using 1" dowel between two 2x4s. It would be simple enought to do the same thing for this winter using all 2x4s. Thank you!
     
  7. KrisRose

    KrisRose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2007
    Davison, MI.
    For the WORST ( [​IMG]) 6 months of the year I second what mmajw posted, you do want your 2x4 roost with wide side up and a heated water dish is great.
    The best thing you can do to your coop (IMHO) is insulate. Also use the deep litter method to help insulate the floor. Besides, I'm not cleaning out the coop in the middle of winter.
    I do use a flat paneled heater during the worst of the cold. It will help keep your coop in the teens when its below zero outside. If you only have hens then they seemed to handle the extreme cold better than the roos who are susceptible to frostbite on their combs. Vaseline did'nt help to prevent the frostbite on my roo's comb, but Bag Balm did help afterwards to help heal up the damage.
    My chickens, when they have a choice, won't go out in the snow. I provided a dust bath for them and I throw down scratch in their shavings to keep them active and not pecking on each other. My coop is large enough , 10x12, that they have space to move about without tripping over each other. On sunny days with no wind they would go outside but just for short peroids of time. If we had a more mild season like they do further south then they probably would be out alot more.
    This was my first winter with chickens and, as you know, it was a nasty one that did'nt want to end. Winds that got up to 50 mph and below zero temps were the worst. I'm hoping that this one is mild but I have a feeling it won't be. It was 48 Sunday morning when I headed to work. Sure don't want to even think about turning on a furance in August.
     
  8. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Oh, the only thing that wasn't really mentioned is the snow problem (I am currently fixated on the snow problem).

    Try to plan for the least amount of shoveling, and see if you can figure out how to snow AND wind proof part of the run so that they have more space in the long winter and are less likely to resort to feather plucking and other nasties.
     
  9. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Our hen house is part of our old barn. If there is no green showing anywhere and the wind is really howling, our flock refuses to leave the comfort of the hen house and barn.

    For those days when its -15° beforethe wind chill and we have over 4' of snow on the ground...we keep bales of timothy, alfalfa, clover hay in the barn. The chickens love it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2008
  10. Michigan Chickman

    Michigan Chickman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 11, 2008
    SW Michigan
    Sounds like I should increase the size of my coop. I want to make sure they have enough room to move around comfortably. If they decide they don't like to go out in the cold, they may be in there from 12/1 - 3/1[​IMG]
     

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