Friday, February 8, 2013

Preparing the Chickens for Winter

I should have posted this a few months ago, but towards the end of fall we started to winterize the chicken coop.  Our birds are pretty much out in the open so we needed to give them protection from the elements.  We tend to just work with what we have, which luckily is a lot of gardening equipment left from the previous owner.  So a few tarps, some PVC, recycling and lots of hay has gotten our chickens through the winter!

We covered the roof and two sides of the coop in a large tarp.  The back of our coop is also almost all covered, except for a 2 foot strip of chicken wire which has been left open for air flow.  The front side of the coop is also left open, and we have a large board that we can place in front of the coop for extremely cold or snowy nights.  Air flow is important because too much moisture in the coop can lead to frostbitten chickens!

We had issues in the beginning with water pooling up in the tarp flat across the roof.  So we rigged up a mini hoop house by feeding PVC pipe through the lattice roofing.  The rain and snow just slides right off and keeps the coop relatively dry.

The chickens sleep in this box, which has a wire floor.   Throughout the winter we keep the bottom layer full of hay.   I have to clean it almost daily, or every other day just to help keep the moisture out.  I just use a small shovel and clean it like a litter box, changing the hay out every week or as needed.  We put another tarp over the little house on extra cold nights, below 20° F.

We have also made few additions to the coop since they started laying eggs.  The nesting box is simply an old dog cage with 2 milk crates full of hay.  Works perfectly!

We hung their food bin from the roof which has kept it much cleaner.  I want to hang the water but I’m a little afraid of the weight. 

This is where the grit and oyster shells are.  Simply an old plastic sugar jug cut in half and stapled to the wall.

So far so good, all the chickens are healthy and happy.  And hopefully only another month or so of cold nights to get through!

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