Winter chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LipsChicks, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. LipsChicks

    LipsChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 31, 2014
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    I live in North Dakota and let me tell you-it's COLD!! Friday it will be -18. I have about 50 chickens, an enclosed coop and fenced in outdoor run. The only 2 days they haven't gone outside of their own free will was when we got about 6 inches of snow. I shoveled it and now even in wind, sleet, snow, and subzero temps. They always seem happy and carefree even though I'm freezing! I am however really nervous about this upcoming cold. I think I'm doing what I'm supposed to but I sure want to make them comfortable. They always have water and feed. I give them whole corn every late afternoon. Any suggestions?
     
  2. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

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    You are doing everything right so far. I too, am experience hard times with this weather. It got down to -15 last night!

    Here is the best info I can give you
    You need good venting in your coop ceiling to rid the coop air of all this unwanted, moist air. If you don't put in good ventilation, during those really cold winter nights, all this moisture is going to rise up to the ceiling since warm air rises, and if it has no place to go, it will fall back down as water or frost making your birds very cold and uncomfortable.

    The ideal way to create good venting is put in 1 square foot per bird of venting in the roof. Split it half and half on either side of the ceiling, one vent higher than the other. If the coop ceiling is not very high then position the roosts lower to the ground. You don't want any venting near the floor. This will create drafts. So what really does this do? It makes it so the moist air from the chickens slowly rises into this positive air coming in the lower vent and out the upper vent. Birds themselves put out heat. So they literally are roosting in a nice warm bubble of air. The moist air rises and goes out these vents. You don't want to disturb this air space around the birds with drafts. So make sure to seal up all cracks above the birds a foot or two.

    Venting can be worked on those cold winter nights by closing off some of the lower vents to slow air movement in the coop. You never want to close off the higher vents. You will not retain much heat by closing off the vents, but you will keep the birds drier, especially if it is a bitterly cold night and you use heat lamps. Hot air meeting cold air creates condensation, so keep the air moving to prevent this.



    Other things to do to help keep your chickens snug this winter include using straw as a bedding, using the 4" inch side of a 2x4 roosts. I also put a towel that has been in the dryer and put it on the roosts to warm their feet. Make sure that there is no water spillage or moisture collection on the bedding as this can also result in frostbite. On the very cold nights you should rub vaseline on the chickens' combs and wattles to help prevent freezing.
    Here's a link on frostbite and ventilation.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/frostbite
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/things-to-and-not-to-do-during-winter

    You don't need a heat lamp if you have ventilation, proper bedding, proper roosts and proper feed. In the winter you should be feeding your normal layer, grower or chick feed along with scratch as this will keep the birds warm especially if you feed it in the evenings.

    Bedding that is warm and absorbent is also necessary. Wet bedding mixed with the cold temps and wind chills equals bad frostbite. So either use straw, shavings or shredded paper. Straw is possibly the best bedding to use in winter. Line the nests with straw to help prevent eggs from freezing. Bales of straw help act as insulation and keep the coop even warmer.

    Heated water bowls are also imperative. Chickens drink non-stop in winter and they can't do that if their water is frozen! So either buy a heated bowl or use a heated base on the bottom of their regular waterer. I've also heard of people who place a 40 watt bulb in between bricks and then put the water on top in a bowl. Make sure the waterer isn't plastic.

    Best of luck and gal you joined BYC!
     
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    You are doing the right thing. As long as they have food, plenty of water and shelter they will be fine. Ventilation is important. Do some research here on the forum. There are some good articles on venting. It doesn't have to be fancy. Open windows a couple of inches at the top, leave the pop door open, put some vents around the tops of the walls or in the ceiling. We have vented soffits on our coops. You don't need to over think this. Like all aspects of chicken keeping, it can be as simple or complicated as you make it. Just as long as it helps the humidity escape the coop. You shouldn't need a heat lamp, ever. I live in MN and last year we had weeks of sub-zero temps in the -20's and -30's. Other than a few frozen tips, they were fine.
     
  4. LipsChicks

    LipsChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 31, 2014
    North Dakota
    Thanks for the reply!! It looks like I'm doing things right. I didn't completely insulate my coop but from what I hear, that's not all bad. I have a new building for my coop so they are well protected from the wind and the windows are open a tad for ventilation. I made a feeder that I only need to fill every two weeks and I have a heated base for the waterer. My roosts are 2x4's with the 4 inch part where they roost.
     
  5. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

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    Excellent![​IMG]
     

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