Winterizing....

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by savingpurple, Jun 25, 2011.

  1. savingpurple

    savingpurple Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know this is a strange time of year to ask, but I have limited time and money, so want to do it right in the time I have.

    Plan to insulate, checked on pricing today. More than I thought, but will watch the ads towards fall. Will do it on my Sept/Oct vacation.

    Plan to buy a heated dog bowl as soon as we get them in at work for the water issue of not freezing.

    Have read that scratch grain given in winter can keep the chickens moving, that keeps them warm, but it also takes more of something to digest it, and that in turns make their body temp raise, hence more heat for them.

    Have read to hang a head of cabbage to have them peck at all day to keep them busy, so they don't peck at each other. Other items too, but you get the idea.

    Will buy a red heat lamp bulb so that when I need to run it at night, it is lower/calmer than the white one I had as chciks.

    Is there anything you can think of, that can help in my financial plan, along with the chicks welfare in the cold of NW Ohio?

    One other questions....can I open the pop door each day regardless of weather? I have read that wattles and combs are very sensitive to the cold, and we can get bruttle weather here. How do you judge this??

    Any help ahead of time would be much appreciated!! Any help is welcomed.

    Thanks in advance:)
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    You'll get a 1000 opinions on winter keeping of chickens. Here's mine. Do with it what you will.

    I live in northern Michigan. -30F is not uncommon. Our barn is a barn. Far too big to heat or even try to do so. It is not insulated. It is well vented, as humidity is the cause of frost bite, far more often then merely temperatures. High humidity "frosts" on the combs and wattles. We provide no heat, although, if I wished to do so, I'd use some kind of device that slightly warmed them on the roosts, heating the chickens, not the coop. It is positively financially unfeasible to heat the barn. Insulation is often just a place for mice to burrow, imho. Since we don't heat, insulation itself provides no added value.

    Finally, this far north, I only keep winter hardy breeds. Breeds that were bred in New England, Up state New York and other cold places. For hundreds of years, our fore bearers kept chickens, bred them and passed their DNA on to us today. Breeds such as the Buckeye, New Hampshire, Wyandottes, Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rock, etc. The breeders and developers of these famous breeds had no heat, no electricity, no insulation and no fancy devices. They survived and thrived and we have the product of those chickens today.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2011
  3. Mtn Margie

    Mtn Margie Overrun With Chickens

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    Fred's Hens :

    You'll get a 1000 opinions on winter keeping of chickens. Here's mine. Do with it what you will.

    I live in northern Michigan. -30F is not uncommon. Our barn is a barn. Far too big to heat or even try to do so. It is not insulated. It is well vented, as humidity is the cause of frost bite, far more often then merely temperatures. High humidity "frosts" on the combs and wattles. We provide no heat, although, if I wished to do so, I'd use some kind of device that slightly warmed them on the roosts, heating the chickens, not the coop. It is positively financially unfeasible to heat the barn. Insulation is often just a place for mice to burrow, imho. Since we don't heat, insulation itself provides no added value.

    Finally, this far north, I only keep winter hardy breeds. Breeds that were bred in New England, Up state New York and other cold places. For hundreds of years, our fore bearers kept chickens, bred them and passed their DNA on to us today. Breeds such as the Buckeye, New Hampshire, Wyandottes, Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rock, etc. The breeders and developers of these famous breeds had no heat, no electricity, no insulation and no fancy devices. They survived and thrived and we have the product of those chickens today.

    x2 They will do fine as long as there are no drafts, ventilation yes, but no wind tunnel effect.​
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    You'll be glad you have the heated dog bowl. The scratch grain keeping them warm is debatable or a myth, I'm afraid, but it won't hurt them if you don't overdo. They do need a full belly (well, crop) when they go to bed. I agree, don't heat them. Heat can do more harm than good. One cold night with the power off when they are used to a warm coop is much rougher on them than being accustomed to the cold. They grow their own good down coat. Be sure your roosts are wide and flat enough that they can cover their feet well to keep them warm. If it's well below freezing and you fear frostbite, put Vaseline on combs and wattles. Be sure the humidity and ammonia they excrete can escape readily. And yes, let them choose whether to go outside every day, unless you are having a major blizzard or something. Wattles and combs are indeed where you will see any sign of frostbite, but they should be safe from this well below freezing if the ventilation is adequate. Somewhere I read that at 35 below zero, they are in danger from cold, other than frostbite. Have you read Patandchickens' page on ventilation?

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=1642-VENTILATION
     
  5. greenbottle27

    greenbottle27 Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:x2 They will do fine as long as there are no drafts, ventilation yes, but no wind tunnel effect.

    I am a newbie, with no eggperience what-so-ever, however, I concur on every aspect.
     
  6. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Assuming you have cold hardy birds as another person suggested, the first thing you have to do is block that Great Lakes wind. (remember, it's ambient temp that effects chickens, not wind chill, wind chill is only for measuring risk to exposed skin) Once that's done I would suggest you install or have open one gable vent, preferably a south or east end. Have your roost pole on the other end of the coop. What will happen is the moist heat and ammonia fumes will rise and go out the vent while drawing clean air in thru the chicken door, but when the cold comes in thru the vent it drops to the floor and does not come down onto the roosting birds (or on open nestboxes)

    I also assume you have a secure run as you have your share of coon and fox. Leave the pop door open. This allows air circulation and lets your birds have the option of going out in the winter as they should be allowed to dig in the dirt and snow, to sun themselves, get fresh air and stretch. Maybe even give them a outside roost for sunning and getting off the cold wet ground. This is where a covered area of the run is nice to have. Yes, you may see some nip or frostbite damage to the birds but unless they are show birds it's worth the risk to have healthy happy birds instead of a flock that is stir crazy, fighting and pecking each other to death

    As to insulating, I would not bother. Rather I would hang a heat lamp(s) over the roost that you can turn on when it get cold or you feel guilty. Unless you have a lot of birds or a tiny coop the warm air the insulation holds in will be wet & full of fumes and useless / harmful to the birds. The people up here don't worry about heat till about -20 or so as long as the birds are dry, then they flip on a heat lamp which offers dry heat and the heat helps cycle the air.

    Always keep plenty of fresh water as well as plenty of grit, oyster shell and feed available. I hang my feeders about breast high to reduce the mess plus they can scratch at the spilt feed too. I have recently seen heated founts that would stay cleaner and hold more water versus a dog bowl.
     
  7. speedy2020

    speedy2020 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Have you consider using nipple bucket waterer system? You can put aquarium water heater in the bucket for winter. It is much cleaner all year round.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2011
  8. TDM

    TDM Chillin' With My Peeps

    As a commercial egg producer in upper Michigan, I urge you to insulate your coop. Common sense.
     
  9. savingpurple

    savingpurple Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Lots of ideas here. Kind of funny on the different opinions on insulating, to which I am more confused than before. LOL My coop sits right out there, not alot of protection around from winds. Plus it is not air tight, as best we tried. Will read up more on the insulation things and decide. We are not close to Lake Erie at all. almost 50 miles away, but still can get brutal winds. I just thought the insulation would help keep it warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer.

    As far as coon/fox, are they a threat during the day? In winter, that is? My outdoor run is not critter proof. My coop is. Hardware cloth coveing the windows,and a screen door covered in it also, and pad locks on the doors. Unless they can operate and find the key, think they are safe. Now if I have to worry during the day, then you have got me on an entire new ball game.

    I do have cold/heat hardy chickens. At least from what I had read before purchase.

    So, it looks like I have decisions to make? LOL
     
  10. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Overrun With Chickens

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    Both my neighbor and I fully insulated our coops. She has all cold hardy chicks, I do not. I also plan on having a heat lamp on during the coldest days. I wasn't planning on letting them outside once they are snowed in. I'm disabled with a neck injury and can not shovel a clearing in their run. Therefore, they have a light in the coop as well as enough room to hang out in all winter.
     

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