Well, my chickens are in the bathroom for the winter. Once the water dishes started freezing up, in they went. What do you all do with yours?
Mine just go on as they are. If it is real windyand cold they will stay on the leeward side of a bush or building. They seldom venture far from the coop if the snow is very deep but I put fresh water out for them a couple times a day and have a heated ( just enough to keep it thawed) container in the coop.
I built a hoop house last winter, and added a fountain heater under the chicken fountain. I had to replace the plastic sheeting I had used to cover the hoops with (wasn't UV rated and fell apart), but I used a transparent tarp like the greenhouse kits are made out of. The fountain heater is still in good shape, I set it on top of two flat concrete blocks (2"x8"x16") just to keep the birds from snuggling up to the heater, and keep it from getting wet. The heater I bought is a self contained, galvanized, 16" unit with a heavy duty 110VDC cord that is about3' long, definitely enough to run out of the hoop house. I left vent strips open at each end (it is 6' tall, 8' wide at bottom, and 13' long) so it is not overly hot, but it is close to 50○ inside during a cold day, and drops down to 30○ at night. The Fountain is thawed out all times as the heater does not kick on till it gets to 32○, and since it is just transferring heat directly to the fountain, the birds never do get burned. Chickens are happy, I am happy, the Fountain was about $50.00 at Tractor Supply Center, and I am using a 6 gallon fountain which was about $24.00 two years ago. Bathroom stays chicken-free, wife is happy. Every one is Happy, Happy, Happy!
Ray - yours are free-range?
Rick - I like the sound of your fountain thingy. I'm not sure what the hoop house is, however. Can you post a picture for me if it's not too much trouble?
The fountains are the chicken water cans you see at Tractor Supply Center, hold between 2 and 6 gallons of water and are made of galvanized steel, so an electric heater under it is not a problem. If you have to buy a heater with an exposed heat element, it has to be blocked away from the birds, they will snuggle up to the heat and burn themselves!
I see, I see. I live in town, and they've changed the laws so that my dear little birds are illegal. So to have them outside, their pen is required to kinda blend in with the rest of the mess of my poor backyard. I still intend to expand it so they have a lot more room to run around once it's nicer and they can go back outside, though! I think, with a dog run fence (since chicks are no longer an option) planted with vining edible things and a hoophouse that can double as a greenhouse (similar to the neighbor's across the street, only smaller!), and a little dog that likes them running about the pen as their protector, this is doable.
I'll have to look into the fountain things. There's an outlet by where they are now, which I'll have to plug back in, and another in the garden shed that will make up part of the non-fenced side, so I should have power for it. I should also be able to get the step and path repaired, and maybe put in a little handrail so it isn't such a trial for me to go down. I know men who will work for beer! It can be done! *coughs* Heh. I'll get the well fixed, too. I just wish I could find an old-style hand pump for that! All I've been able to find are electric annoyances. Meh, I shall do wishing well style!
Ours stay in the "mini-barn" during the really cold days, but they free range when it's about 25F or when they feel like it. I added a blog post here if you're interested in seeing the photos.
Well Jan. is gone and I am getting half a dz. eggs a day and life is good.
I keep about 70 birds, very few cocks so mostly hens. My birds are Buckeye, Rose Comb RI White. Coronation Sussex and some Americana. Here in Mulberry Ks. the temps this year have been down to zero with 30 mph wind. Right now we have wind gusts to 45 mph but temps in the 40s. My chickens have only a little frost damage but they are mostly rosecomb birds.
In spring I will separate the various breeds so I get pure breeds but for now I allow them to free range and at night they roost in an old frame garage all piling in together. I have been feeding mostly milled corn but it is well cooked and I add fish scraps or some other supplements. This cooking also allows me to feed back to them all of their egg shells with no danger of starting egg eating with the hens.
Winter is a perfect time to do maintenance like DE-worming and DE-lousing. I also like to get my hands on the chickens and cull any unfit for breeding. For this I recommend using the breed standard but With a common sense approach as to temperament and such attributes.
Woah felix-- too preachy. Well I will be glad when this wind lays.
I've only got my 5 Arucana (or so I was told they are) hens, and they have chosen today to prove they are all laying. They're out on the back porch now, which while not as warm, is still easier for me to get to. As the wind blew down the door to the outdoor pen whilst it was fastened, I have new repairs to make before they can go back outside.
Jana, It is always good to hear when someones pullets start to lay, don't you just love those blue ans green eggs. I'm not sure about temperatures in your' area but when it is cold you might need to check for eggs several times a day. Don't we always seem to have plenty of repairs to do?
On the subject of "all laying", an old chicken man once told me "you need to get rid of the dead weight". So, if your' flock is an older one it might not be a bad idea to make time to get your hands on your hens to check for laying condition. To do that you need to feel the weight of the bird, if she is too skinny or seriously out of condition she will not be likely to lay. One way to see if she is laying is to simply turn her over, look under her tail and if her bum is wet and wide and looks like a wet egg might not have trouble passing thru, she is most likely laying. If her bum is dry as a prune or a raisin she is most likely not laying. With feed cost as high as it is if they are not laying it might be time to think of chicken and noodles or some such method of trimming feed cost.
Well, here I go again, too much info. At least the wind quit howling.
No worries there. This particular batch is young enough the first laying started in October. Yesterday was the first time I got eggs from all of them. My former hen got foxed. Thought I had the pen fixed well enough, wind proved me wrong. *scowls* I must do more cobbling. Feed's only $13 for a 50# bag, a whole lot better than birdseed! Plus they get lots of scraps, peelings, and leftovers. I have a child who went from "will eat everything under the sun so long as it's not a strawberry" to "won't eat much of anything except eggs". All the inhuman inhabitants of the house approve of the new pickiness.