Wintering the Flock

Beccazon

Crowing
Apr 23, 2019
837
2,049
257
Michigan Thumb
What should I know that I might not know yet about wintering the flock? I have appropriate bedding and shelter. No drafts but available air flow.

Any particular diseases to be on the lookout for? Mites more prevalent without dust bathing? Higher energy food for cold weather? Feed inside coop or outside per my norm?

We are the Michigan Thumb. We get crazy like the Straits. Can go from Ice storms to 50 degrees overnight. Nights can be from -20 to 40 degrees but tend to stay around 10-25 more regularly. Days are similar with a bit higher temps. Wind can get extreme from time to time so windchill is a factor.

Help me be prepared in advance!
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,454
18,031
876
Holts Summit, Missouri
What should I know that I might not know yet about wintering the flock? I have appropriate bedding and shelter. No drafts but available air flow.

Any particular diseases to be on the lookout for? Mites more prevalent without dust bathing? Higher energy food for cold weather? Feed inside coop or outside per my norm?

We are the Michigan Thumb. We get crazy like the Straits. Can go from Ice storms to 50 degrees overnight. Nights can be from -20 to 40 degrees but tend to stay around 10-25 more regularly. Days are similar with a bit higher temps. Wind can get extreme from time to time so windchill is a factor.

Help me be prepared in advance!
I make so they have a tub in which they can dust bath in.

Bales of hay are placed so they can provide wind breaks where need and places to loaf or mill about that is elevated and not as cold on feet. They will eat the hay and it provides a good diversion.

I have trouble keeping birds in liquid water at all times when it gets really cold. Free-range birds have no problem with that as they consume ice and snow. Penned birds are a different story where liquid water offered in the morning is supplemented with soaked oats and sometimes crushed ice. If the approach working the birds will not be greedy for liquid water when presented to them late in the day.

The soaked oats can be a supplemental energy source. When it gets really cold for more than a couple days they will start to eat more. Sometimes the feed intake can come close to doubling when they are not in lay. Birds in lay a pretty close to being maxed out in terms of what they can consume. When increase feed intake to fight cold I like to offer a whole starchy grain like shelled corn or wheat in addition to soaked oats. Take care to make certain they are still consuming roughly the same amount of your complete feed as they do when it is warmer. When it warms up I back off on the grains with exception of soaked oats.

My free-range birds are fed outside coop except when snowing heavy or otherwise blizzard conditions. Hay or straw bales are used to provide an elevated wind break. A feeder is placed low and whole grains are put on bales so the birds can work for their eats.

BOSS is really good to keep feather looking slick.
 

Beccazon

Crowing
Apr 23, 2019
837
2,049
257
Michigan Thumb
I make so they have a tub in which they can dust bath in.

Bales of hay are placed so they can provide wind breaks where need and places to loaf or mill about that is elevated and not as cold on feet. They will eat the hay and it provides a good diversion.

I have trouble keeping birds in liquid water at all times when it gets really cold. Free-range birds have no problem with that as they consume ice and snow. Penned birds are a different story where liquid water offered in the morning is supplemented with soaked oats and sometimes crushed ice. If the approach working the birds will not be greedy for liquid water when presented to them late in the day.

The soaked oats can be a supplemental energy source. When it gets really cold for more than a couple days they will start to eat more. Sometimes the feed intake can come close to doubling when they are not in lay. Birds in lay a pretty close to being maxed out in terms of what they can consume. When increase feed intake to fight cold I like to offer a whole starchy grain like shelled corn or wheat in addition to soaked oats. Take care to make certain they are still consuming roughly the same amount of your complete feed as they do when it is warmer. When it warms up I back off on the grains with exception of soaked oats.

My free-range birds are fed outside coop except when snowing heavy or otherwise blizzard conditions. Hay or straw bales are used to provide an elevated wind break. A feeder is placed low and whole grains are put on bales so the birds can work for their eats.

BOSS is really good to keep feather looking slick.
I am glad you brought up the tub for sand bathing. I considered that as I do have adequate space for one. And I like the idea of hay bales for elevation from frozen ground and for "scratching" treats. Definitely will plan these into their space!
They do free range. So hopefully that will help address the water issue also. Really don't have the money for fancy heated waterers or the ability it takes to DIY one but I am stay-at-home so at least I can monitor regularly!
 

bruceha2000

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Apr 19, 2012
16,427
67,862
1,212
NW Vermont
Is there power in the coop? My girls are in a converted horse stall in an OLD barn. The alley is their indoor run. They don't like snow, except to eat off my boots. I have successfully used a heated dog water dish, the big one, in the run. Hasn't frozen nor had an ice skim even when it hit -20°F.
 

slordaz

hatchaholic
5 Years
Apr 15, 2015
3,456
6,394
602
Idaho
I don't do to much different though I do have a litter box with something under to catch what they toss out, with a mixture of sand and garden soil, so they can take a dust bath. I treat with 3*1 en in evening as the corn or cooked oatmeal with a pinch of cayenne pepper if we are gonna get below zero. And of course as I'm also up North my hens want an area cleared of snow to explore in even in -30 temps they still want to get out and exercise. I treat net in the coop and /or a swing might help with boredom if there is room to hang them. As we get cold enough for the heaters not to work I use the rubber bowls and have an extra set so can just change them out as they need the water
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,296
12,509
636
western South Dakota
Do put a lot of bedding in the run. If I know snow is coming, I will rake it up into mini hay stacks, after the snow, I flip it out on top of the snow. This encourages the birds outside. Outside is good for healthy birds. I also have shelter in the run from wind. In a small set up, even a tote tub turned on its side can provide shelter. I also place some old shower glass doors so that they have a sun porch, and on a clear sunny day, it is a lot warmer under there.

I soak just chicken scratch in a bucket and add that drained to the feed. I cannot use fermented feed, as it just freezes together in a solid chunk and they don't eat it. But the grain, breaks apart easily.

I use the black rubber bowls, and I have two of them. They get warm water in the morning. I flip the frozen one upside down, the black collects enough heat on a sunny day that the ice block will fall out. I fill it with water the next day rotating the bowls. I don't have electricity at the coop. I have tried every natural solar idea, but very limited success. However, a lot of people worry about this having water 24/7, but mine do fine once a day.

Leave the pop up door open, birds know more than people about going outside. Being trapped inside can cause a lot of ugly behavior if inside too long, again, outside is good for birds. I live in western SD, we can have wild 60 -80 degree temperature swings. The coldest we have had is -40, but that is extreme, however we have been at -20 for a couple of days to weeks.

MOST IMPORTANT - do not thing keep birds WARM, instead think keep birds DRY. Dry birds are warm birds.

Mrs K
 

bruceha2000

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Apr 19, 2012
16,427
67,862
1,212
NW Vermont
MOST IMPORTANT - do not thing keep birds WARM, instead think keep birds DRY. Dry birds are warm birds.
Yes! Even breeds that are more native to warmer areas will fluff up and stay warm. I had a pair of Cubalayas, gamebird like in appearance and originally from Cuba. Can't get much farther from their native winter temperatures than -20°F but they were fine, just about twice their summer size.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom