I am going into my first winter with our chickens we have 6 hens in our coop and we live in ohio. Temperatures can drop into negative teens and I'm just worried about having enough protection for them. Is there anything specific I should do?
Good ventilation is very important to keeping your chickens warm and dry throughout the winter. There is a lot of moisture being released through the pooping and the breathing and this moist air needs to go somewhere. Without good ventilation, it will rise up to the ceiling and fall back down on the birds as water or frost chilling the birds and giving them frost bite. So you want your birds roosting low to the floor in quiet air and 1 square foot of vent space per bird in your eaves or ceiling. All the moisture will then be sucked out the roof. You can close off some of these vents on a really windy night to slow down the movement of air, but never close them all. Bad air in the coop will also lead to respiratory ailments. Chicken also need to get outside or in the run every day. So the coop needs to be at or around the outside temp at all times so there is not a big temp difference.
Enjoy this new adventure you are on and welcome to our flock!
Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.
Two Crows and Kelsie have given your expert advice.
Ventilation is probably one of the most important things to have in winter. Without proper ventilation your birds will get frostbite, respiratory illnesses and other problems.
Chickens can survive brutally cold temps as long as they are dry and out of all drafts. Sealing up all cracks in the coop and putting in about 1 square foot of vent space in the eaves per bird. Wind chills are merciless on chickens sleeping at night so make sure your coop is draft free.
You don't need a heat lamp if you have ventilation, proper bedding, proper roosts and proper feed. In the winter you should be feeding your normal layer, grower or chick feed along with scratch as this will keep the birds warm especially if you feed it in the evenings.
Bedding that is warm and absorbent is also necessary. Wet bedding mixed with the cold temps and wind chills equals bad frostbite. So either use straw, shavings or shredded paper. Straw is possibly the best bedding to use in winter. Line the nests with straw to help prevent eggs from freezing. Bales of straw help act as insulation and keep the coop even warmer.
Heated water bowls are also imperative. Chickens drink non-stop in winter and they can't do that if their water is frozen! So either buy a heated bowl or use a heated base on the bottom of their regular waterer. I've also heard of people who place a 40 watt bulb in between bricks and then put the water on top in a bowl. Make sure the waterer isn't plastic.
I really appreciate the feedback and how promptly it was given. Also if anyone knows where in the Ohio area as close to Greene county as possible I'm looking to add more chickens. Any advice would be great thank you.
Welcome to BYC. Glad you decided to join our flock. The other members have given you some really good advice regarding winterizing your coop so there is little more that I can add. Feathers are excellent insulators. I raised chickens where winter temperatures reached 30 F below zero and they did fine. Just be sure the coop is well insulated, draft free with good ventilation, and dry. moisture is a greater threat than cold. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. What kind of hens do you have?
We have 2 comets 1 bared rock 1 Brahma and 1 Cochin and 1 aracana. All of my walls are 1inch thick wood planks no insulation but everything is painted and caulked so should I add insulation or will I be okay I also have electric ran and they have a 60watt bulb for extra light for winter months