Wintering a small flock in Nebraska.....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by gickelvolk, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. gickelvolk

    gickelvolk Songster

    Oct 1, 2011
    Greetings All!

    We are new to the site and raising chickens. We have 6 New-Hampshire Red hens raised from chicks. What a rewarding and entertaining experience! They are 5 1/2 months old and have been laying since Labor-day weekend.
    We get 1 to 3 eggs a day now. They are being relatively "free-ranged" in our backyard. They have a large fenced in area that allows them access to the garden, fruit trees, some of the berry bushes, and the compost pile. [​IMG]

    I was wondering, how do you folks manage to get your flocks through our harsh prairie/plains winters?

    We have a good raised coop with adequate room within, and use pine-shavings for litter. The nesting boxes have thick layered dried grass beds. The coop itself is uninsulated and has 2 windows in front and a long, narrow, horizontal vent window in the rear. The coop sets about 6 feet from a 6-foot privacy fence facing south-east, under a maple tree.

    I think the fence will block most of the winter wind and a lot of the snow.

    Is it necessary to insulate the coop?

    What would you suggest for a heating source for those nights when the temp falls below 25 degrees?

    Thanks in advance for your insights!

  2. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Crowing

    Oct 31, 2008
    West Michigan
    My Coop
    Here in Michigan out nights don't get quite as cold as your nights do over the winter but subzero temps are not unheard of. We did not insulate our coop, but we have adjustable flaps over the vents to control drafts, and we use the deep litter method which insulates the floor and actually produces a little heat from composting of litter supposedly. We run an outdoor extension cord to our coops for the heated waterers (that can be found at Tractor Supply, etc) Our our hens and the rooster with them do ok without an additional heat source here. But we have some bachelor roosters in another coop who started getting a little frost bite on their combs and wattles, so we put a red bulb heat lamp on a timer in their coop. Also 2x4 roosts with chickens roosting on the flat side is best so that their feet are covered well by their feathers.
  3. anotheregglady

    anotheregglady Chirping

    Dec 24, 2010
    Alaska interior
    Ask around and see what others with small flocks in your area do for overwintering their birds. A heat lamp and/or and incandescent light bulb would be a source of heat. We have a water heater also. You could also have 2 waterers and trade them out if one freezes. Take one inside to thaw and swap them out as needed. Chickens are hardy. Isn't nice to have your own fresh eggs!
  4. gickelvolk

    gickelvolk Songster

    Oct 1, 2011
    Thanks for the feedback!

    I figured on limiting the direct draft spots and supplementing with a bulb as necessary.

    The heated waterers will also give off a bit of heat.... hadn't thought of that! [​IMG]

    The deep litter will be looked at also!

    Thanks again!

  5. smalltownchicks

    smalltownchicks Seven Silly Hens

    Jul 7, 2011
    Hello fellow Husker! This is our first year with chickens in Nebraska as well. Our coop is raised and uninsulated too. I am planning on getting hay/straw bales and stacking them around the coop and a heat lamp on super cold nights. That's the plan for now.
  6. thedeacon

    thedeacon Songster

    Nov 14, 2008
    I'm just of Omaha. Many winters temps have goten down to -20 or more. I do not use any heat. the most important items are: draft free area, ventilation, 24/7 feed and water. I use an electric dog waterer. I even raised 25 hatchery chicks beginning in Nov and never lost any. Of course they had heat until feathered out, about 6-8 wks. Building is not insulated. Provide the important items and the chicks will take care of you and themselves.

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