winter suggestions

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Thelma-Anne, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. Thelma-Anne

    Thelma-Anne New Egg

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    Aug 16, 2012
    I live in central Ontario with serious winter. First year with 6 hens. The coop is well built and insulated; wired to allow a light and heated waterer. I've been advised not to heat it unless really cold to allow them to adapt. Attached to coop is a totally enclosed run (predator proofed with hardware cloth dug into ground etc) which we plan to wrap with plastic to reduce drafts for when they're outside and prevent snow from blowing in and piling up. From this they could also go to a fenced bigger yard that they are in only when we are there. My question is - the floor of the outside small run is just dirt - should I put litter or chopped straw down or will that get wet and frozen? Also any other ideas from people who live where there is snow.
     
  2. lisababes

    lisababes Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 26, 2010
    Madison, WI
    Im in Wisconsin. My run sounds similar to yours - its 8x8 outdoor and hardware cloth with dirt floor. I have left the dirt as-is in the winter, but I also built a couple simple wooden perches that sit outside -that way they can still be outside (which they prefer unless it is really windy or actively snowing) and still get their feathers over their feet. My perches are built with a triangle at each end, and three 2x2 connecting the corners of the two triangles. Two bars sit on the ground for support, one bar is what they sit on. Ive never experimented with straw in the run during winter - they ate too much of it when I gave it to them in summer. I would imagine everything freezes solid, whatever it is?

    Plasticing up for wind is a good idea, as long as it still has some pretty big gaps - winter air can be wet and you want air movement. I have done this with wood, and also with snow. Ill often block off the West and the North sides of the coop, since thats where the wind usually comes from. Mine hate wind, and they really hate snow - they won't step in it unless theyre REALLY hungry and the snow is just a dusting, so I attempt to keep that out too. Two years ago, along with some scrap wood, I used the snow itself to make a wind/snow break:
    [​IMG]
    but at that time the roof to the run had clear plastic on it. Now we have actual roofing, so might have to just go with clear plastic, for preservation of lighting.

    Our coop is open to the ground level run, so they can go in and out freely. During winter we screw in a series of hanging leather flaps (think: walk in freezer plastic strips) system over the door, so that they can still go through it (that took a little training) but it keeps out major drafts. I only turn the heat lamp on when it gets around 0 or below. They really can withstand cold pretty well. They come outside most every day, save for -20, wind, or snow getting in their run.

    Hopefully something out of that helps!
     
  3. Thelma-Anne

    Thelma-Anne New Egg

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    Aug 16, 2012
    Thanks Lisababies - looks like I'm on the right track. I do have perches in my outdoor run.
    Good feedback.
     
  4. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    I put hay and straw (leftovers from the horses) into my outdoor run in the winter, the birds really enjoy kicking around in it and it seems more comfortable for them than snow. My run is open, not plastic sided, covered only along side of the coop, and my birds are out except in the worst possible weather. I would not reccomend heat in your coop at all, but you should make sure it is well-ventilated, moisture condensation or unusually moist bedding means you do not have enough ventilation.
     

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