Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chickens in Winter

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 inside of the coop is insulated and I have a deep layer of sawdust on the bottom. I keep replenishing the sawdust as the Winter goes on, making a nice deep bed and keeping it fresh. The deep litter method keeps the chickens warmer in the Winter and gives us lots of great material to use in our garden in the Spring.
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).
 So once Winter hits and the coop has been set up for the cold months, there is really no extra daily work with the Chickens. I just have to be quick to get those eggs once they are laid, as they will freeze and crack in the cold weather.

I love seeing the warm glow coming from the coop at night, with the chickens happily scratching about. It has been so much fun having chickens and well worth it for the eggs and compost they give us!

1 comment:

  1. Those are some lucky chickens. It's cool to see how you set it up for the winter!

    ReplyDelete

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