Winter ideas

mountainchickens

Songster
Apr 7, 2019
286
419
166
Colorado
Hi! I am looking for ideas on what to do with the run in the winter - more specifically, whether to do anything or not. Here are some more details about our setup.
We currently have 20 chickens (17 chicks, 3 hens.) We'll be keeping 10 (our hens and 7 chicks. (It's impossible to choose who to keep!)) We have a 10x12 run, ish. Our coop, though, is small. It's 4x4 (width and length) but about 5 feet high. It's got a good bit of roosting area, 3 nest boxes and we're building poop boards. I am willing to clean it out often to make sure that they're healthy. I wish we could have a bigger coop but expansion doesn't look like it'll happen soon.
The coop doesn't have much ventilation. A 1x40 inch gap at one side, a 1x20 inch gap at another. Does it need more? We could potentially knock out the Plexiglass in one side of the coop, which is about 3 feet x 8 inches. Then we could switch that to wire.
And for the run... I don't think they will want to spend all day inside in the snowiest days of a north CO winter, when the coop is so small. Our run is floored with woodchips and uncovered. Should we cover with a tarp and put up plastic sheeting on a side or two of the run? Or should we leave it the way it is?
Thank you!
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,285
38,646
1,096
southern Michigan
This coop won't work for ten birds, unless they are very tiny bantams, and they would still be too crowded.
It's time to either move all but three or four birds on elsewhere, or build bigger!
If these are standard sized birds, at least four sq. ft. indoors of floor space, and more is better.
Also about one sq. ft. of ventilation per bird.
If your run can be made predator proof, at least with electric fencing, and actually have a roof adequate for your snow load and wind, the whole thing can become their coop. Wrap the run walls, leaving about one foot open at the top for ventilation. We use two layers of vinyl/ rolled plastic, well attached, to our open run sides.
Mary
 

mountainchickens

Songster
Apr 7, 2019
286
419
166
Colorado
Thanks! We already have electric fencing since we've had multiple attempts by bears on our coop. If we expanded the coop... how big would it have to be for 10 chickens? It's around 17 sq ft right now. If it was 4x10, would that be the minimum?
Thanks again!
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,285
38,646
1,096
southern Michigan
Don't build for the minimum!!! How about 8x10? Easier to arrange inside, rather than only 4' wide.
In winter when your birds are uninterested in playing in the snow, they will be bored and may develop nasty behaviors if crowded. Having a covered run will keep you from shoveling spaces for them to be outside.
Mary
 

mountainchickens

Songster
Apr 7, 2019
286
419
166
Colorado
Okay! Thank you! We have rolled plastic/vinyl. Should we put that up on a side or two of the run? Any ideas regarding fun things/toys for them to do in the winter? Or year-round? Currently our run is a roost tree and a few stumps and not much else.
 

CatWhisperer

Crowing
8 Years
Jun 16, 2013
1,503
5,058
401
northwest Arkansas
I put plastic/vinyl all around my run in the winter. Ventilation in the run is where the chocolate and grape vines grow thru the run walls and at the very top. My chickensalso will free range out into the snow.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,285
38,646
1,096
southern Michigan
I have it (the nearly clear stuff) doubled up around all sides, with the upper foot or so left open for ventilation. You could cover three sides, blocking the wind, and then add more, or start with more cover and subtract some. Ventilation is most important!
If your run is predator proof, then you can leave the coop door open all the time. And build bigger!
We staple the vinyl sheeting to the run framing, and then screw 1"x4" boards over that into the framing, and it holds up very well.
Mary
 

chickens really

Crazy Mother of Goats
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 8, 2015
62,662
109,114
1,647
The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
Well an insulated Coop that's big with enough over Roost ventilation is needed.
Wrapping the Run in vapour barrier plastic works but not in severe cold temperature. Frost bite and core body temperature needs to be maintained. You need a different set up or get rid of a bunch of chickens before the winter weather hits.
 

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