winter

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by brookwoodpat, May 23, 2008.

  1. brookwoodpat

    brookwoodpat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 11, 2008
    I realize winter is a long time away, but being new to chickens, I am trying to think ahead. Also if you get chicks in late july, by the time they are eight weeks old, winter is on the doorstep, so to speak.

    I live in MD, and so we don't have very cold temperatures. Most days are above freezing, and we rarely have snow, though there are winters where we get snow on the ground after thanksgiving and it is there until march, but those are pretty rare.

    I'm assuming that on non snowy days, chickens go in and out of their yard like always, even on windy cold days, going back in their coop to keep warm. what do they need to stay warm in the winter. I'm thinking (since so far I have a small coop) piles of straw around the coop under a tarp will provide good insulation (and eventual bedding). When do you keep chickens locked up in a coop during the day and not let them go in and out? If their run has a cover (to keep it relatively snow free, does that help?
    pat
     
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

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    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Well, our winters here are very different from yours ... we have temps below zero for days at a time (although only for a couple of weeks) and can have snow over the tops of the fences.

    What you are proposing with the straw bales sounds like it should work just great for you.

    I only leave the chickens locked up in the hen house on days when it's blowing snow directly into their pophole door. I think this past winter they were shut up three days at different times. Otherwise, I just let the chickens decide if they want to go outside ... I open the door and they can choose. Surprisingly, they almost always chose to go outside.

    I'm sure others from your area will chime in and give you better ideas for where you live.
     
  3. bangor777

    bangor777 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2008
    Chirpy,
    I live in Maine and I've been wondering how everyone will do this winter. I have cold hardy breeds, and electricity in the coop. I bought a water warmer. I'm surprised to hear that they'll still go out in the snow! That's pretty neat! I plan on having lights on for them all winter during the day to encourage egg laying year round. I was debating about a heat source for them. How cold does it get where you are? We are plenty cold, some nights will definitely well below zero. I'm interested to hear more. Thanks!
     
  4. SterlingAcres

    SterlingAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 17, 2008
    Poconos, PA
    We live in NE PA and the winter weather here can get pretty nasty. I was wondering about winterizing a coop too, so you aren't the only one! [​IMG]

    My question is... I'm wondering if I already have a standing storage shed with vinyl siding that we're turning into the chicken coop, would I still need to insulate and plywood the inside too? Or would it be sufficient enough to keep some heat in there for the chickens? It doesn't get insanely cold here, but more like deep snow, slushy snow, rain/sleet/hail for days at a time and windy.
     
  5. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

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    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Lori and Shellie - We will have several weeks (one in December, one or two in January and one in February) where we will have -10 degrees without the wind chill here. And, we will get snow storms that will dump five to eight feet of snow on us. This last winter was my first with chickens. Although we had the minus ten temps multiple times we never got more than two feet of snow this year at one time. Because we live on the prairie we have patches of bare ground and then two to three foot drifts inside the chicken run. My chickens would go out onto the patches of bare ground every day unless the wind blew them back inside!

    I have an 8x8 coop with half of it insulated (we just didn't get it finished) and I don't have electricity to my coop. There were a couple of areas that I stuffed small pieces of insulation in because of drafts. My chickens made it just fine with no extra light or heat all winter.

    The biggest issue are drafts. If your hair blows when you are inside the coop or you can feel the air moving around then you have a problem with drafts. If the chicken coop is draft free then your chickens should be fine. I would suggest insulating if possible if you have temps that often go into the single digits or below zero.

    You also need to make sure that there are vents up high on the coop so that moisture doesn't build up inside the coop.

    The biggest thing that I learned this last winter was that I don't have a big enough coop for my girls! We are now adding onto it. When I had several days of really bad weather and they were locked up inside they began pecking at one of my hens. They had never done that until they were locked up for two days so I'm sure it was due to lack of proper space (I have 8 standard hens and 1 smaller hen in a 7x5 sq. foot area). That's just too tight for them when they can't get outside.

    I gave them a flock block and that made a huge difference in the pecking ... it pretty much stopped it altogether as they 'attacked' the flock block instead of my one poor hen. I intend to always have one available inside during the winter months for them from now on.

    The only frustrating area for me was their waterer freezing every day. I ended up just bringing in their hanging waterer and putting it away for the winter and using 5 quart plastic ice cream pails for their water instead. I could easily switch out the pails multiple times a day, if needed, and they are easy to carry full of water from the house.
     

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