Winter must haves and efficient cleaning systems

Kaesi2020

Chirping
Premium Feather Member
Hi all, I am curious what everyone feels are their must have items for chicken keeping in the winter. I'm already realizing I need to start bringing my gloves out to the coop with me in the morning...what else do you do to make the morning wake up/night chicken procedures more bearable in cold weather?

Also in terms of daily chicken keeping, what do you all use for tidying the coop? Do you use buckets, garbage cans, etc.? I'm wondering what kind of supplies work best for you that you suggest to others for efficiency/ease.
 

Sally PB

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
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Belding, MI
For the daily "scooping" I use a cat litter sifting scoop. I can scoop poop off the poop board (which has 3/8-1/2 inch of PDZ on it), shake it gently so the excess PDZ falls out, and then drop the poop into a bucket. Takes all of about a minute.

I have been bringing the food bowl inside the last week or so. The bowl sits in a 10x16x6 Rubbermaid container. The Rubbermaid container keeps scratched up dirt/shavings/leaves out of the food, and a couple of fist-sized rocks make the whole thing tip-proof. Put the lid on, carry inside. In the morning, fill up the bowl, take the whole thing back out. Since it sat inside all night, it's not freezing cold.

I use a gallon milk jug as a waterer. I cut a large hole out of the side opposite the handle. The hole is big enough for the chickens to get their head into, without scraping their comb/wattles. The bottom of the hole is about 4" up from the bottom of the jug, so it holds two or three cups of water. It sits on some bricks, about 6" off the ground, and I strung a bungee cord through the handle so I could secure it to the fence. At night, I take it out of the run, dump out any water, and bring it inside. I take it out empty in the morning, along with a jug of tepid water. Set it up, fill it up. (I am thinking of getting a heated waterer. We'll see.)

Then I open the pop door and greet another wonderful day with my chickens. :)
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
21,778
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southern Michigan
I'm all about making things as easy as possible, and maybe have more birds than you do (currently 45) so this may or may not be helpful.
Barn boots! The tall Muck Boot brand, warm and comfortable, last years, and worth every dime! Gloves, yes, and either coveralls or long johns under jeans, and a warm jacket and hood or hat. Cold weather is manageable when you dress for it!
We have an all -weather hydrant next to the coop for water, and two heated bases for three gallon waterers in the coop. Also a black rubber water dish out next to the hydrant for when the birds are free ranging. And a heated dog bowl at the barn for them, and for the barn cat.
Multiple full feeders in the coop and roofed run. Bags of feed in metal garbage cans in the coop.
Deep shavings as litter, cleaned out in spring and fall, and some added as needed. Scattering some goodies around on it gets the birds to scratch in it and turn it over.
A small light that's on a timer, 4am to 8am every day.
Gathering eggs as often as possible in really cold weather, before they freeze.
Vinyl sheeting over the lower seven feet of the run walls for winter. It stays warmer than ambient in there, still with plenty of ventilation.
Mary
 

rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
12,537
23,238
792
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
Gloves, gloves and more gloves. I don't really change too much in the winter overall - I plan my coop cleanouts for Oct and April so no need to do any real cleaning. A dog pooper scooper, cat litter scooper and a 5 gal bucket take care of daily poop clean up. A gallon jug brings water out to my heated waterer.

If there's snow then I take a broom and shovel with me - broom the netting overhead so the snow falls through, then shovel paths in the run so the girls still have some outside space to use (their pampered little feet refuse to step on snow).
 

Kaesi2020

Chirping
Premium Feather Member
For the daily "scooping" I use a cat litter sifting scoop. I can scoop poop off the poop board (which has 3/8-1/2 inch of PDZ on it), shake it gently so the excess PDZ falls out, and then drop the poop into a bucket. Takes all of about a minute.

I have been bringing the food bowl inside the last week or so. The bowl sits in a 10x16x6 Rubbermaid container. The Rubbermaid container keeps scratched up dirt/shavings/leaves out of the food, and a couple of fist-sized rocks make the whole thing tip-proof. Put the lid on, carry inside. In the morning, fill up the bowl, take the whole thing back out. Since it sat inside all night, it's not freezing cold.

I use a gallon milk jug as a waterer. I cut a large hole out of the side opposite the handle. The hole is big enough for the chickens to get their head into, without scraping their comb/wattles. The bottom of the hole is about 4" up from the bottom of the jug, so it holds two or three cups of water. It sits on some bricks, about 6" off the ground, and I strung a bungee cord through the handle so I could secure it to the fence. At night, I take it out of the run, dump out any water, and bring it inside. I take it out empty in the morning, along with a jug of tepid water. Set it up, fill it up. (I am thinking of getting a heated waterer. We'll see.)

Then I open the pop door and greet another wonderful day with my chickens. :)
I like your waterer idea. Have you had issues with it freezing? We need to decide on a winter waterer, we do not have electricity out there so we have to be creative.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
21,778
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southern Michigan
My small run is integrated into the coop, so it's really a large roofed coop. No shoveling necessary there!
Walking out to the coop? I make a path, slogging through the snow until it IS a path. Hate shoveling! This works in up to about two feet of snow...
Mary
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
87,647
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SW Michigan
My Coop
Walking out to the coop? I make a path, slogging through the snow until it IS a path. Hate shoveling! This works in up to about two feet of snow...
Then what do you do?!
I keep my path shoveled down to the grass, frequently so light loads to toss.
I hate the ice pack that builds up if I don't, terrible footing for my shaky sticks.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
Sep 13, 2011
21,778
33,678
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southern Michigan
Here in the balmy Lansing area, more snow hasn't happened at once in my lifetime. Near lake Michigan, you all get more, more often!
Growing up in Milwaukee, much more interesting winters!
Mary
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Feb 2, 2009
26,127
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Southeast Louisiana
We need to decide on a winter waterer, we do not have electricity out there so we have to be creative.
Grow out Water.JPG


With no electricity you might consider incorporating something like this. It's a rubber bowl I got from Tractor Supply. Since it is rubber it won't beak when the water in it freezes. Since it is black if you set it in the sun it acts as a solar heater and stays thawed a lot longer than things not in the sun. I used this in Arkansas where the overnight lows occasionally got below 0* F. You should see colder weather. In summer I used a white water bowl to keep it cooler.

The sun does not always shine, especially at night. Every morning I'd have to bang out the ice and refill it. Since they can and will poop in it I change the water every day anyway to keep it fresh. If the sun were shining brightly outside the water would stay thawed down into the teens. Cloudy days caused more problems.

I made that holder to keep them from tipping it over by standing on the edge and to raise it a bit so they scratch less trash and bedding in it. It was rare but occasionally it got wet enough that the bowl froze to the stand. That stand did not bang well, that created problems.

Ice.jpg


I'll include this photo too. I took it when the temperature was 4* F. I leave the pop door open during the day and let them decide if they want to come out. Since a cold wind was not blowing they came out. You can see where I busted ice out of this in the mornings. It's up on the block to keep them from scratching trash in it. To keep them from tipping it over I'd put some large rocks in it. The problem with that is that the rocks get frozen in the block of ice. If they don't thaw during the day I could run out of rocks to use.

I'm not trying to say this is a perfect solution, winter is challenging. I've tried to mention some of the issues to maybe help you come up with a solution for your situation. Good luck!
 

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