What a fun busy weekend we have been having! Yesterday we went to the Christmas craft fair and then we had a bunch of people over last night for a potluck. Today we are going to take it easy and relax!
So, I thought I would update you on my chickens. With Winter here, the chickens have been set up to handle the cold months. One of the things I do in the Winter is cover the run with clear plastic. This keeps the loads and loads of snow from covering the ground in the run, as the chickens are not keen to play in the snow. In fact, if any snow gets on the ramp leading out of the coop, they won't come down! I also cover the ground in a thick layer of alfalfa. The chickens love to dig in it, looking for the scratch I throw them, and they love to eat bits of the alfalfa. I add more fresh stuff as the Winter progresses, giving them a nice, dry run. We feed them our table scraps as treats, and they compost it really well, giving us great organic material for our garden come Spring.
In this picture, you can see an extension cord. Our days are very short in our Northern Winter, with only about 7 or so hours of daylight around December. This means I have to supplement the chickens' light, to keep them laying eggs. So I have an LED light on a timer that comes on at dusk and shuts off after the set amount of time. Last Winter, I kept the light inside the coop, but this year, I have decided to put the light in the run. The chickens seem to be enjoying this extra time to muck about the run, scratching, eating, and drinking and then they head off the bed around 9pm (before the light shuts off). Such amusing animals! I like using an LED light because it really cuts down on the electricity we use.
The chickens don't like the heat lamp on, unless it is very very cold, around -30c or colder! The breeds I have are very cold hardy and don't even seem to notice the cold!
For the chickens' water, I bought a magnetic oil pan heater for a car (fairly pricey at $75) and I stick it to their metal bucket-style waterer and leave it on pretty much all Winter. This keep the water thawed until it hits colder than -20c. Then I find I have to thaw the water inside under warm water once a day (more if it gets REALLY cold).