Winter months- Coop & Run

Navahogirl

Chirping
May 7, 2020
44
94
69
I live in upstate NY - this is my first winter with my girls & Rooster. Here are my concerns
1) Do I turn a light on first thing in morning or at evening to extend egg laying ?
2) How do you winterize your coop?
3) How fo you maintain a deep litter method !
4) how do I keep my Roosters comb from getting frostbite ?

thank you
 

black_cat

Free Ranging
May 21, 2020
5,115
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Connecticut
You want a light on a timer, as they need a few hours of extra light before sunrise to lay properly. I don't know when sunrise is for you, but for me it's about 7 right now, and I don't want to get up at 4:30. Lots of people cover most of the walls on their run with sheets of plastic to protect from high winds. Leave a little at the top for ventilation. I've never used a fully deep litter method, so I can't help you there. For your rooster's comb-make sure that their heads while they're roosting are free from any drafts and below the ventilation. You can also put vaseline on his comb. Hope this helps!
 

CluckerFamily

Crowing
Feb 14, 2016
1,805
3,973
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Wisconsin
1) My first year of chickens, I added extra light for extended laying and then after that I rethought the idea. I no longer provide light, I let the ladies take a break, I feel they deserve it.
2) I'm in Central Wisconsin, I slide corrugated plastic sheets on the three sides of my run. This provides a wind break, allows the sun we get to heat the coop, and keeps most snow out.
3) I built my coop so this allows me to keep a deep litter method but if I would've bought a coop instead, there wouldn't be room for deep litter for the number of cold months we get.
4) My rooster does good in the winter. I do install and have the heat lamp ready to use for a couple hours a day if we get to -20F. Or if there is a week or two of very cold temps. I install the heat lamp so it can't fall and it is on a timer.
 

Acre4Me

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
5,177
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Western Ohio
Added light should be on/off at regular times - so a timer is helpful for this. Generally added light is added in the morning. Our first year, we added light morning and evening, but changed it to morning only as the birds just wanted to naturally go to roost at 4pm in the shortest days of winter, so no need to keep a light on. However, during really cold snaps I do also food in the coop for them (normally they do not have food in the coop), because eating is how they stay warm and wanted to maximize their access to food so they can eat all hours they have light in deep winter.

As far as a break is concerned, they get one when they molt. The molt will take them a while to get through and they will not be creating eggs during a molt. Even with added light, my flock of heritage breeds will slow down their production naturally, but I will still get eggs through the winter.

Pretty sure this one is NOT producing eggs :gigAll her energy is going into making feathers! We took this pic yesterday. She is basically naked everywhere except neck/head. Under her wings she is also naked! She is 17 months old.
Screen Shot 2020-09-17 at 12.07.14 PM.png



We placed our coop behind the barn, so it is protected from the worst of the winter winds. The coop has large open triangles (covered in HWC) at the North and South ends - these triangles are created between the roof and wall. We cover the north opening in the coldest part of winter. There is now a roof over both North and South sides, protecting from precipitation. But, here it is during the build.

Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 8.36.09 AM.png



Frostbite: Even with good ventilation, frostbite can happen due to moisture. A warm up followed by a freeze - can contribute moisture that leads to frostbite. I've heard that extreme low temps can also cause frostbite when it is a prolonged cold snap. The size and type of the comb matters too. Single large combs are most susceptible. So, even with good ventilation, we have had frostbite occur on the rooster comb. This was during a very cold temp over several days. Best to keep humidity no higher than outside or as close to outside as possible. ventilation up high to move out the moist air.

Good Luck!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
86,146
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SW Michigan
My Coop
so a timer is helpful for this.
Not just helpful, it's essential.
Lights need to be consistent as they are very sensitive to any changes.

I live in upstate NY - this is my first winter with my girls & Rooster. Here are my concerns
1) Do I turn a light on first thing in morning or at evening to extend egg laying ?
2) How do you winterize your coop?
3) How fo you maintain a deep litter method !
4) how do I keep my Roosters comb from getting frostbite ?

thank you
1. First year pullets should lay all winter.
Next year you might want it tho, after they molt is when I crank up the lights(mid to late Dec). I use early morning lighting.
Here's a pretty good article on supplemental lighting.

2. I dampen the eave vent flow with furnace filters and cardboard.
https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/ventilation-baffling.75434/
Close up the windows and put the heater in the waterer.

3. I don't use DL in the coop.

4. Good ventilation, horizontal nipple waterers helps, but it's pretty inevitable.
Ointment on combs doesn't work, best to leave hands off before and after FB.

Would be good to post pics of your coop and run for more specific suggestions.
Also....
Please add your general geographical location to your profile.
It's easy to do, and then it's always there!
1600433604755.png
 

Acre4Me

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
5,177
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Western Ohio
Not just helpful, it's essential.
Lights need to be consistent as they are very sensitive to any changes.
Yes, agreed!
Here is our electric set-up. This year we added an outlet connected to the timer, so if we wanted add another light or a string of LED Christmas lights, they would also be on the timer.
Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 8.56.38 AM.png
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
Feb 2, 2009
25,957
16,328
797
Southeast Louisiana
Not sure how cold you get in upstate New York. Here is a helpful link by someone that lives in weather colder than you should see.

Alaskan’s Article

https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/cold-weather-poultry-housing-and-care.72010/

1) Do I turn a light on first thing in morning or at evening to extend egg laying ?

Different people do it different ways. The important thing is not length of light but that the day doesn't get shorter. It's the change in the length of light that causes molting. As days get shorter, they molt.

Sunrise and sunset change each day. If you only add lights in the morning or in the evening you need to do some regular adjustment so the days stay about the same. To me the easiest way to do that is to have a timer for the morning and at night.

You have to think about spring when the days are getting longer. When are you going to stop the extra light? If you stop the light and the days suddenly get shorter for them they are likely to molt. Another problem is that after a period of continuous lay they slow down. They lay fewer eggs and the egg quality can drop. It's called a laying cycle, usually somewhere around 13 to 15 months of continuous lay. It can vary by chicken. Their bodies sort of wear out and they need to molt to refresh their body. If you don't let them molt in winter you may see some disruptions in what is typically a high laying time of year.

Many of my pullets lay throughout winter their first year without extra lights. All of them don't but many skip the molt their first year and keep laying, though the number of eggs can drop. Butt he next fall, after continuously laying, they are going to molt when the days get shorter.

Many of my hens start laying in the middle of winter when they finish the molt without lights, often December or January. That's somewhat breed dependent, some are much better layers than others. I do not use lights but many people do.

2) How do you winterize your coop?

Read Alaskan's article. I shut the window at roost level to keep breezes off of them. I have excellent ventilation up high. But my coop was built with this in mind. It will depend a lot on what your coop and run look like.

I use bowls to water. In summer I use hard to find white plastic bowls where the sun can hit them. I try to keep them in the shade. This helps keep the water cooler. In winter I use black rubber bowls that I get at Tractor Supply. When they freeze I can knock the water out of them, the rubber will not break. If they are in the sun the solar energy can keep them thawed down into the teens.

That's it for my winterizing.

3) How fo you maintain a deep litter method !

I don't do deep litter, but again it would depend on what your coop and run look like.

4) how do I keep my Roosters comb from getting frostbite ?

I don't do anything special and don't have a problem. My ventilation is good and my coop is dry. They have good breeze protection too. But my overnight lows have never been below -4 Fahrenheit. You will get colder. The wattles are in danger too, not just the comb.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
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The important thing is not length of light
Well, they do need a certain amount to stimulate the pineal gland.
~10-12 hours would be minimum and no more than 16 because they also need the dark period of 8.

ETA added wiggle ~
 
Last edited:

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
3,627
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USA
1) Do I turn a light on first thing in morning or at evening to extend egg laying ?
Other people already addressed the egg laying, but I just want to make a point about light:
chickens need enough light to see, and eat and drink, during the day.

If the chickens stay inside the coop during bad weather, then it is important that the coop have either windows or a light. Light can come in through glass or hardware cloth, but not through wood shutters over hardware cloth.

(Personal experience: my parents' first coop had no windows, and therefore needed a light during snowy winters when the chickens stayed inside.)
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
86,146
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SW Michigan
My Coop
If the chickens stay inside the coop during bad weather, then it is important that the coop have either windows or a light. Light can come in through glass or hardware cloth, but not through wood shutters over hardware cloth.
Even with lots of windows in my coop, it can be rather dim on cloudy days(most of them here).
My light comes on at around 3-4am, I have it set to stay on until about 2pm.
 

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