Worried about chickens during winter - is this coop sufficient?

HilaryAkin

Chirping
May 23, 2021
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Hello all,

I live in northern Michigan and worried about my chickens during our first year. Long story short, we have a Retriever dog kennel for our coop as we will be building a larger, strictly for chickens, coop in the spring and put our dog in the kennel in the spring (they are NOT currently sharing the kennel!). As the snow pours I wonder if we have done enough to keep them warm. We have put tarp around the panels with long, open slats between each panel. We have closed the top as there are little holes and melting snow/rain was getting the inside wet. We have quite a bit of deep bedding there in an effort to build heat and give them a place to burrow down. Our duck and one chicken sleeps in the bottom house while the other 6 chickens sleep up top. That top house isn't shown in the pic but is basically the same as the brown one, just raised higher with a ladder for the chickens to walk up. There are no chickens in the little side coop, as that was for introducing our baby chickens safely in the summer to the older chickens. There is no artificial heat and a large roosting bar about 2 feet off the ground inside.

We got quite a bit of snow in the last day and a half and notice a bit of snow getting through the open slats but want to ensure proper ventilation. I know keeping it dry inside is important.

What do you guys think? Any suggestions?

Thanks!
Hilary
 

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When you say they have plenty of deep bedding to "burrow down" does that mean they aren't sleeping on roosts? Roosting is an important part of keeping warm because they tuck them into their belly feathers to keep them warm at night. Keeping dry is the most important part of them keeping warm so they need to be up off the ground for that reason as well. Maybe I misunderstand the description
 

HilaryAkin

Chirping
May 23, 2021
71
48
61
When you say they have plenty of deep bedding to "burrow down" does that mean they aren't sleeping on roosts? Roosting is an important part of keeping warm because they tuck them into their belly feathers to keep them warm at night. Keeping dry is the most important part of them keeping warm so they need to be up off the ground for that reason as well. Maybe I misunderstand the description
It wasn't a good description haha I think they have been getting down into the dirt, under the bedding, and taking dirt baths still. This is during the day when I check on them, give them fresh water, etc. Today I opened the coop back up and they all came outside though (sitting on our deck pooping ugh). Occasionally when I checked when they were in there, most of them were up on the roosting bar, all but our Jersey Giant. She is also the one that sleeps at the bottom with the duck. She doesn't seem to like to be high up. I was thinking about making her her own bar. That said, at night, none of them sleep on the roosting bar, they all sleep in the houses.
 

HilaryAkin

Chirping
May 23, 2021
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48
61
Do they have roosts in the houses? If they can't tuck their feet up they can easily get frost bite
In the little houses, no, they do not. They only have a large one under the tarped area. Hmmm their nesting boxes are in the top house and not sure how to add a roosting bar in each house. I am not sure they could all fit on it in the little houses...

If their feet were cold enough for frostbite, would they be smart enough to come out of the house and just get on the roosting bar?
 

Sally PB

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
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Belding, MI
Can you post some more pictures? Pictures closer to the coop, and also of the inside, as you can manage it.

Some more questions...

How many chickens do you have, and their breeds/ages? Do you have a cockerel/rooster?

What do you feed them, including any treats? (Meaning, layer, all flock, starter/grower? Brand is less important.)

What is the square footage of the coop, the run?

Do you have electricity in the coop or run?

General guidelines for space are:

Coop, 4 sf/chicken
Run, 10 sf/chicken
Roost, 1 linear foot/chicken
Ventilation, 1 sf/chicken, open 24/7/365 ("Open" means covered with hardware cloth to keep out predators.)

These are minimums, and more is almost always better. When the weather gets really nasty, the chickens might stay in the coop, and that's when more space helps to prevent behavioral issues like pecking.

Ideally, the ventilation should be above the birds' heads when they are roosting. They poop a lot at night, and the ammonia fumes rise, as does their warm, humid breath.

Until it gets well below zero, chickens do not need supplemental heat. They are wearing down jackets, after all. If they are dry, they can keep themselves warm with their feathers.

I do not keep water in my coop, just for that reason. I have a heated dog bowl in the run, so they will always have access to water. Water in the coop adds to the humidity, or can be spilled. Humidity = frostbite for chickens.

There is a thread for us Michganders. Stop by and say hello.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/michigan-thread-all-are-welcome.697050/page-5153
 

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