Wintering?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by galaxy, Aug 14, 2013.

  1. galaxy

    galaxy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2013
    Hi-

    This is our first year trying to winter our small flock of two hens. We live in southeastern wisconsin. Currently we house them in a dog crate (2'x3') in our garage at night to ward off predators. Then each morning we take them outside to our run where they have more space to hang out all day long. Is this viable for the winter? Is there a minimum temp where we should keep them indoors for that day? What if there is a string of cold weather for

    several weeks...do we keep them indoors in that tiny cage the whole time? I would feel bad doing that, but maybe I'm just overly concerned about their space needs and they would be perfectly fine. This is a picture of our run.

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  2. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like it's time to build a real coop outside. For two birds, it doesn't have to be the TajMahal.
     
  3. galaxy

    galaxy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2013
    Ideally yes...but we are not comfortable having them outdoors at night in any structure. Lost chickens to the neighborhood fox last year. Our kids were devastated. We assumed it was our fault because we didn't build the "right kind", however our more farm worthy suburban neighbors built a great coop and then the fox took out their chickens too. We really feel they need to come into the garage at night. Or do you mean something for them for during the day when they are out there? Like a shelter in the run? Sorry we are only our second year of this.
     
  4. fiddlebanshee

    fiddlebanshee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You don't need to build a taj mahal or fort knox to keep them outside day and night. It's just a matter of the right materials and looking at your build from a fox's perspective. I live on top of a mountain with fox, bear, moutain lions, bobcat, raccoons, coyotes, stray dogs and god knows what else. In the 2 years I have had chickens I have never lost a single one to a predator. How did the fox get in last time?

    The secret? Covering everything with 1/2" hardware cloth and having a 1' to 18" apron around the perimeter to prevent digging. (burying it would have been better but impossible with our rocky soil. So it is well possible to have a wooden coop of any kind of construction with an attached run covered in hard ware cloth and not lose any chickens to predators. The doors need to be latched and locked (I use door bolts secured with carabiners), including the popdoor unless your run is super secure. All other openings need to be covered with hwc.

    If you want to keep doing what you're doing -- you can do that, it's your decision. In that case, can you make them a little indoor space where they can walk around and scratch a little? With 2 hens it doesn't have to be much, a 2x10 ft space would do it, or a 4x5 ft space. You can let them go outside as well. Chickens are quite cold hardy and don't mind the cold at all, unless there is a real windchill. They also don't like snow very much so will probably not want to go outside if the scary-I'm-going-to-eat-you snow is on the ground.
     
  5. JackE

    JackE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If a fox was able to breach your neighbors coop, then it wasn't built very good. We are talking about a fox, if a bear broke in, I could see it, because a bear will do more or less what he wants. It doesn't take a MasterBuilder to build a good coop.
    But hey, you could just build them something a bit roomier right there in the garage, if anything. It would be better than the dog crate.
    Don't think your chickens are safe in the daytime. THAT's when I had all my losses, 16 in all to two afternoon fox attacks. I wrongly thought night was the time to worry. I built a FortKnox type coop, and it worked great. Turned out, day can be every bit as dangerous as night for chickens. My solution was 600' of electrified poultry netting. Chickens can come out everyday, and I don't have to worry about them.
     
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  6. galaxy

    galaxy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 22, 2013
    Jack...I am now officially scared out of my mind for these poor girls. Kidding. I appreciate the advice. I am sure our run is not totally secure. We need to take this to the next level if we are going to keep them safe. As of now the run is covered in chicken wire not hardware cloth (the door is hardware cloth), which I read yesterday also isn't tough enough. We've got some work to do for sure. Thanks.
     
  7. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can build a secure coop and that will also give you peace of mind! I went for Fort Knox, and have double wire walls on either side of the 2x4 support framing. The outer layer is 2"x4" field fencing, to stop larger animals, and 4 inches on the inside is a layer of 1/2" hardware wire secured with 1 1/2" staples and screws with large fender washers. Then I have the coop / run area protected by electric netting. While I have lost birds due to predators, it was always when they were out in the yard, never during the night once I have secured them in for the night. I had a bobcat attack the coop one night, and he bent up the outer wire fence a bit, but wasn't able to touch the inner layer. You don't need a large coop like some have, but if you do make it small, make sure it is secured to the ground well. Sometimes a predator can flip or knock over a small coop, so you need to build small coops sturdy to withstand this! Here's my coop with the double walled run, and the bobcat (he was 12 feet from the camera mounted on the coop) plus wintertime - the birds do fine in cold weather. I added the windows in the doors this past winter to allow the southern sun to shine in, providing extra warmth for the birds.

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  8. LUVMYCHIKAS

    LUVMYCHIKAS Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 13, 2013
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    I agree .You can secure your hens in a run with hwc 2 ft up and 1 ft out on the ground of the entire perimeter. Our run is 6 ft chain link stapled to landscape timbers that are concrete in the ground. Maybe you see the hwc in this pic. Our coop is off the ground a ft and very secure with hwc over the windows. Double bolted doors for safety. I've lost no one yet. They have a 6 ft roost in the coop that they prefer at night so if someone were to get in (I don't know how) they would have to fly to get to my flock. I make sure everyone is cooped by dusk each night if I let them out of the run. I have not had any evidence of any attempts on the coop or the run. If I ever do have a problem then electrifying it is the next step.
    It's a bit of work but it can be done. Good luck with whatever you decide. [​IMG]
     

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