Chickens and snow
We are in another blizzard here in New England, with the temperature dipping to 0F at night. How are you chickens doing and what do you do to help manage them in this kind of weather?
Chickens are pretty adapted to the cold. Mine are fine in the un-insulated coop out back. I cover up some of the screened openings so it is not too drafty but still leave plenty of openings for ventilation. I had a rooster once that got its comb and wattle frostbit when it got down to -10 once, and the frostbit parts turned black and sloughed off eventually. Other than that the birds were okay.
They take a few days to get used to the first snowfall, but are now running around anywhere I've shoveled, including unfortunately the deck on my house. They don't like to walk in the deep snow though.
I have a heat lamp over their water bucket to keep it thawed out. I try to collect eggs before going to work, because any sitting around all day will freeze eventually.
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The coop is not insulated and they don't come out if there's snow on the ground. Last week I shoveled a path from the sidewalk to the coop. When they saw it they made a dash for the back porch, where we have bird feeders, to scavenge whatever sunflower seeds they could find, but scurried right back to the coop when they found the pickings slim. If there's bare ground they are outside during all daylight hours. Our waterfeeder has a heater that keeps the water ice free. We also have a light and timer that keeps them in light 14 hours a day. This is our third winter with chickens and we have had no weather related problems.
My girls, 15 of them, are not very happy about the new england cold. We're in southern NE, so it could be a lot worse, but there's no talking to them! Generally they are fine, in an uninsulated coop and a small run, with a heated water dispenser. They usually have the run of the garden, so when they are cooped up by weather I suppose they feel it more. We have two leghorns which lay really well but whose combs usually get a bit of winter frostbite. although it sort of falls off by spring. And one of the the orpingtons has taken to roosting in a tree – usually I let her but last night with the cold I forced her down and into the coop. I'm going to check the eggs now. I've had a bit of egg eating to deal with recently, and being cooped up might be encouraging this. Hope it doesn't spread…
Woodman – love the idea of using the lamp to keep the water from freezing. At our previous home in colorado we would lug out water daily to fight the the really bad cold snaps (high of 20). And those times would be when I would feel bad and set up the lamp. Make using all that power worth the cost.
One question I would pose to the group – Any thought on water supply and low temps when the power goes out? I think about all the snow load and ice storms the east has gotten in recent years and wonder about keep the animals healthy and happy without power. Sounds cold and tiring.
As I chatted with Amanda today – I am sorry and happy to report yesterday was a shorts day. 🙂
Drought conditions in the west are still severe though 🙁
anybody have any killer chicken coop plans or strong recommendations? I have a covered concrete 6 x 8 slab with water and electric, but no walls, that I want to build out for a spring flock.
Anyone ever use a plug in roof de-icing cable to put under the floor of a chicken coop or around a water pipe and bowl? I saw one poster here on pp who used this type of roof de-icing system in a green house where plants were grown in containers that sat on top of a coiled de-icing cable that was lightly covered in dirt. He used about $1 / day in electricity keeping the green house above freezing.
Or a water pipe heat cable?
And I second mike dickenson's request (above) for favorite coop plans/recommendations!
For the next several days the weatherman is talking about -30 to -38 far., the coldest I've personally ever seen is -46. Funny thing is my chow chow was comfy and wouldn't come inside….bare belly INTO the wind. Anyway, how would you guys suggest I raise chickens here, I want to – but jeez! Is a light bulb enough?
P.S. You know how you know you're talking to someone who knows cold? There's no "and that's without the windchill……" Added. It's a given, like how everyone who "gets it" knows your freezer is about -10 (without the windchill!)
I placed a red heat lamp in the coop this week. Two eye bolts spaced apart in the ceiling keep the casing mounted and secure. When we built the coop we insulated it. The remote thermometer read 10 degrees above the outdoor temps last night. There is a heating plate under the water as I too lugged water out each day the first winter we had them. The chickens seemed no worse for the wear when they all ran down the ramp this morning.