Monday, November 21, 2011

Winterizing the Chicken Coop

It's that time of year to begin winterizing your chicken coop (if you haven't already--you folks up north)! Chickens can definitely survive just fine in unheated coops, but it must be dry, somewhat insulated, and free of major drafts. We are fortunate that where we live the weather does not stay below freezing for very long over the winter and in general the temperatures are pretty mild. Of course,  I still worry about my babies though!!


1. Check the coop for any cracks. Make sure it is draft-free!



2. Add an extra layer of pine shavings on the floor to help insulate. Some people add insulation to the walls of their coop as well.



We added some straw mixed in the nesting box to make it cozier for the layers

3. Check for any dampness. This is a problem for me because my chickens like to have a small water bowl inside their coop for a drink while they are confined, but due to spills and drips from their beaks it makes the area around the water bowl moist. I'm weighing whether it is worth it to have extra water inside for them or risk frostbite.

4. Add heat only when necessary. Chickens can naturally tolerate pretty cold temperatures depending on their breed. I raise primarily Dominiques, which are inherently cold-hardy. They are happy to be out in the frigid cold foraging and bracing any weather conditions. However, I do have a small heating pad in the coop that is buried under their pine shavings and comes on automatically when the temperature reaches below 35 degrees. Yes, I'm a sucker and my chickens are spoiled. 


This cord that is connected to their light is buried under the pine
shavings with the heating pad



5. Invest in a chicken waterer heating base. This will prevent your water from freezing since the last thing you want is for your chickens to be without water.



6. Give scratch grains with cracked corn for treats. Corn will help raise your chickens' body temperatures a little, making scratch grains with cracked corn a great winter-time treat for your flock.

Over the summer we extended their run to include this very large round pen that is enclosed with solar-powered electric fencing and covered in netting. It gives them more room to run around and play when we are not at home
to let them out.

How are you keeping your chickies warm this winter? 




P.S. On a side note: I just tried to put cute "Santa" costumes and hats on my chickens for our annual Christmas card photo shoot and it was a DISASTER. Tansy ran around squawking like she was being choked or something by the weird red cape that was on her back- and it easily came off. Rosemary was being frantically chased by the boys who took advantage of the costume that was slowing her down. She eventually ended up getting her foot caught in the ribbon and I found her sitting down helplessly next too a log out in the woods! Poor thing.  The only one who half-way cooperated was Clove, who kept his Santa hat on only because I was holding him. I wish I had it all on video, haha!  What am I going to do?!?!

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7 comments:

  1. Hi Megan...as a Historic Presevationist myself (UMW) and chicken raiser wannabe, I have enjoyed poking around you blog a bit. Very well done.

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  2. Megan, I love reading about your chickens! What a funny story about dressing them up. Sounds like something my husband and I would try if we had chickens. (Instead, I grew up with ducks).

    To MarmePurl - above - I am a UMW Historic Preservation graduate myself! What a small world. =)

    -Kaitlin

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  3. It looks like your chickens will be very happy! As you saw, we're building a hoop house, which we hope will work out well!

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  4. we insulated the coop walls and laid down more hay as well. i loved reading your post!

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  5. Hi Megan! This is perfect:) I am seriously loving your post! It is so informative and I think my subscribers would really enjoy reading this. I would love for you to come share it at Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways on Frugally Sustainable (http://frugallysustainable.blogspot.com/2011/11/frugal-days-sustainable-ways-2.html). I really hope that you will put Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways on your list of carnivals to visit and link to each Wednesday!

    Warmly,
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable
    Here's the link: http://www.frugallysustainable.com

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  6. I'm so honored that you made it over this week! Thank you so very much for linking up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways:) It is my sincere hope that you will continue to make Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways a part of your Wednesdays! Keep the great posts comin':)
    Blessings,
    Andrea
    www.frugallysustainable.com

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  7. It's that time of year to begin winterizing your chicken coop (if you haven't ... chickenwaterheater.blogspot.com

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