Winter must haves and efficient cleaning systems

jreardon1918

Crowing
Jul 13, 2016
815
1,413
276
Southeast, MA
My Coop
My Coop
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
Do you already have the lights on? I normally wait until the solstice. But I really want to start getting some eggs again.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
22,488
36,028
1,096
southern Michigan
I've had the light on since late September, don't remember the exact date.
It takes a while for the birds to 'reset', so I think earlier is better.
Right now some of the hens are laying eggs, and all the pullets are producing. Their smaller eggs are getting bigger too.
Mary
 

jreardon1918

Crowing
Jul 13, 2016
815
1,413
276
Southeast, MA
My Coop
My Coop
Fall preparation.

  1. Shovel the top layer of compost out of the run. I add this to the gardens.
  2. Clean out the coop shavings into the run.
  3. Plastic in the run. Have switched from opaque plastic to Dollar store clear shower curtains.
  4. HN 5 gallon water gets a stock tank heater.
  5. Lights in the early morning hours to promote laying in the winter.
  6. Add the Halloween straw bale to the run for more wind protection.
  7. Remove snow from roof of coop to clear the ridge vent. Clear snow from flat roof run.
 

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Kaesi2020

Songster
Premium Feather Member
View attachment 2389008

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.

View attachment 2389024

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!
Thank you! I may try this rubber tub solution. I was thinking of putting fresh hot water in it each morning as well.
 

Kaesi2020

Songster
Premium Feather Member
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).
I'm using a scooper and 2 buckets so very similar. The hardest part for me will be the cold weather and opening all the locks. I have arthritis so it's kind of a challenge already.
 

Kaesi2020

Songster
Premium Feather Member
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
We are getting some vinyl sheeting! That should really help.
 

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