winter weather

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ellent, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. ellent

    ellent Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 2, 2010
    Columbia, MO
    I know this has been discussed elsewhere, but I didn't find exactly the answer to these questions, so I will post them, and hope either for good advice, or to be pointed to where the answers already are...

    I live in Missouri, where it will be below freezing a fair amount, but probably rarely as cold as single digits F. I have 4 hens (buff orpington, barred rock, partridge plymouth rock and New Hampshire Red) in a 6 x 10 uninsulated coop. It has vents below the eves on the North and South sides. The hens ignore their roost, and roost instead on a shelf way up in the northeast corner of the coop, right in front of the vent--but on that side, there is some shelter from the wind by the overhang of the sloping roof. There is a big window on the south side which does warm things up on sunny days.

    I am thinking of using a deep litter method for the winter since I have read that that keeps things warmer.

    Does it sound like my girls will do okay without supplemental heat? Should I remove the shelf and MAKE them use the roost, away from the vent? Should I cover the vent. I have read that they need plenty of fresh air, even when it's cold. Maybe I could block the north side vent, and keep the south one open.

    Also, I had pretty much planned to let them into their run every day. Is that okay, or do they need to be kept in at a certain temperature?
  2. UrbanGrower

    UrbanGrower Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 29, 2010
    West Jordan, UT
    I can't say for sure but I had the same concern as my birds are near the vents. What I did was make a little curtain out of an old sheet that I nailed to a 2x2x8 which I mounted across the length of my vents at about 3" away from the wall. This helps direct the cold air draft down. Since my coop is larger I also put wood hinged flaps that I can close at night, and open during the day. This is my first post so if something doesn't sound right let me know.
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I would definitely keep them away from the vents by some means (maybe the way the previous reply suggested). Other suggestions might be adding a temporary drop ceiling or to provide a huddlebox inside the coop housing. I do offer a heat lamp for my birds, but many don't and their birds are fine. My pop door is always opened for them during the day, even on the coldest days. I do put up a wind block in front of the pop door to keep the icy wind from blowing in.
  4. HeritageHens

    HeritageHens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2010
    I've tacked a burlap bag over the vent closest to the roost. It's mounted so that I can easily drop it away when the weather is warmer. I know the burlap prevents plants from freezing so I'm sure it will be effective in keeping away drafts.
  5. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    Quote:Your birds will be fine--mine go to 20 below and we have days where the temperatures never get above zero. As long as they can get out of the draft from the vents, they will when they need to. The deep litter method is ideal in that it keeps their tooties off the cold floor and the poop collects, composts and adds some heat. Under no circumstance will you need supplemental heat.
  6. ellent

    ellent Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 2, 2010
    Columbia, MO
    Thanks, everybody! I'm feeling much better! I will make them a little curtain, and try to relax!! Also, teach1rusl--could you explain your wind break? What can I put up that they won't knock down, that's not too permanent?
  7. biddyboo

    biddyboo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2008
    Ashland, Missouri
    Hello, Ellent! We are just down the highway from you, outside of Ashland, MO. This will be our second winter with our hens, and I don't feel nearly as apprehensive as I did last year. Rest assured that you and your hens will manage through the winter and have great stories to tell next summer:) Our coop is raised, smaller than yours with just one roost. Pecking order seems to determine which hens rate the roost, but the others contentedly pile into the nest boxes together, covering their feet and heads with downy fluff. Their little coop has a deep litter base so they can always nest down in that as well, and some do. I stir this daily so they do not overnight in messy conditions. Our hens have the choice of retiring to the coop at night or going through their chicken yard pop door into a larger pen inside our metal barn which has saw horses for roosts, multiple nest boxes, and deep litter. Usually fifteen or so elect the coop while a lesser number sleep in the indoor pen. Our little homemade coop is not air tight by any means though I've caulked most cracks. We have a four inch vent strip the length of the coop (@ 6') above their nesting boxes. I block most of this is the deep winter, but always leave some space for air circulation. Another small vent is on the opposite wall, up under the roof overhang. This too I partially block in deep winter. I worried terribly about them last winter, but my DH reminded me that they wear down coats full time and stay rather toasty unless we get into gale conditions. Then we run them all into the indoor barn pen. I've not seen any signs of frosbitten combs, wattles, or toes, so our system must be okay for our conditions here in mid MIssouri. Best wishes with your chickens! ~G

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