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Travel Light
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just finished stacking bales of straw around the chicken coop as a wind break. Going to make a peaked roof with a tarp to keep the snow out. I've got some pics up on my blog here http://lilacre.blogspot.ca/

This is my first winter the ladies. Let me know if you think this will be enough to safely see my girls through the cold and possible polar vortex's again.

Thanks
 

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Numquam Succumbe
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I'm not familiar with that breed or Ontario winters, but my guess is that they'll need more than a windblock.

I have Delawares, and all they needed last winter was a roof, four walls, hay on the ground, and each other, and they made it through our 0 degree F weather without a hitch.
 

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One of the big concerns with wintering chickens is making sure they have draft free ventilation in their coop. You need to make sure all the moisture they exhale can get out or mold and mildew will set in fast along with respiratory illnesses.
The next thing is to make sure they have access to liquid water but not so much access that they can get in it. Chickens will loose toes and feet to frostbite pretty fast. One thing that will help with this is proper winter roosts. I don't know what you've got for roosts now but a 2x4 on its side so they roost of the wider part works great. It allows them to sit on their feet covering their toes. Toes left sticking out gripping regular roosts are exposed to possible frost bite.
And of course the last big issue is light. As the days get shorter and darker you might think about providing a small wattage light on a timer so they maintain 12 hours of daylight. Upping their protein will also help to keep them laying all winter.
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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Our chicken coops are walled using loading pallets, then a domed roof with PVC and topped with tarp. The openings between slots on the loading pallets provides enough ventilation, but seems to limit 'drafts'.

Our chickens, ducks, turkeys and pigs do not freeze from this, even after 13 years.

But maybe because we are in Southern Maine, and we simply do not get the extreme cold that folks up North get. The coldest we see here is -20F, rarely for more than a month though.
 

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Travel Light
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
There seems to be a bit of confusion, and that is likely my fault. There are no pictures of the 'coop' itself. What you are seeing with the straw is the 'run'. The coop itself is about half the size of the run, indoors, insulated and heated. They enter it through a small door in the wall of that extension of the garage you can see in the pics. Also, where I live in Ontario is the same latitude as Northern California and our winters are comparable. During the extreme cold days they get locked up inside. I just want to make sure the run is adequately sheltered so that they can enjoy going outside most of the winter.
 

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Numquam Succumbe
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There seems to be a bit of confusion, and that is likely my fault. There are no pictures of the 'coop' itself. What you are seeing with the straw is the 'run'. The coop itself is about half the size of the run, indoors, insulated and heated. They enter it through a small door in the wall of that extension of the garage you can see in the pics. Also, where I live in Ontario is the same latitude as Northern California and our winters are comparable. During the extreme cold days they get locked up inside. I just want to make sure the run is adequately sheltered so that they can enjoy going outside most of the winter.
Oh, my bad. I misunderstood. We let our chickens run around all day unsheltered during the winter. As long as they have adequate shelter to retreat to, I think they'll be fine. Ours were. I don't even think you need those bales of hay at all. But, I'm hardly a chicken expert, I've only had them through two winters. So take the advice for what it is. :)
 

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Travel Light
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have one neighbor, only one, and he happens to be quite anal about his lawn. I'm not talking normal over anal lawn care guy. This guy literally has a par 3 in his yard. He has a manicured fairway, complete with 3 sand traps, an elevated tee off area, and a beautifully sculpted green. He would be less than enthusiastic about my chickens pecking and scratching as they free range....not to mention he often uses pellet fertilizers that look alot like chicken feed and I'd hate to see what would happen if one of my girls at some.
 

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I just bought a $3 thermometer that has temp and humidity from Home Depot. I plan on putting that in the coop so I can see what the difference between the outside and the coop is. I live in a state that can have some harsh winters, last year we had many consecutive days that were -30 with wind-chill. I built a very nice coop, they are off the ground, its sealed very tight, has adequate ventilation, and is only 4x4 with a pitched roof that varies from about 2-1/2 to 4' high inside. There are 4 chickens inside. I have added some straw bales stacked on the outside of their west wall where the wind comes from. I will also be filling some feed bags with hay and stapling them to the interior celling for added insulation. They are In a 35x35 paddock that they free range in all day and I'm going to add a wind break with roof right off the coop for them to have a place to go with no snow on the ground. There will be no electricity or heat lamps in their coop. I will monitor their conditions and I am confident they will be fine as the col weather gets here. Time will tell.
 

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My coop is 8'x8'x7' high, insulated walls and ceiling. I hang a 250w infrared heat lamp for their comfort. Tarped 10X14' run outside. Heated dog dish for water inside. Houses 20 birds comfortably.
 

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Made pressure treated panels with poly, and some with Plexiglas, that get installed over the enclosed and roofed run location. The coop is insulated, has no cracks or gaps. We put foam insulation over the interior soft vents. The run also gets a good layer of hay.

Water is on a heated pan. No heat lamps in our coop. Imho - too dangerous, and the chickens need to get used to the cold.

Have not had any problems, issues, or casualties to speak of with New England winters and chickens.....
 

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Made pressure treated panels with poly, and some with Plexiglas, that get installed over the enclosed and roofed run location. The coop is insulated, has no cracks or gaps. We put foam insulation over the interior soft vents. The run also gets a good layer of hay.

Water is on a heated pan. No heat lamps in our coop. Imho - too dangerous, and the chickens need to get used to the cold.

Have not had any problems, issues, or casualties to speak of with New England winters and chickens.....
Nah, heat lamp is no more dangerous than the heated element you're using for water. And the chickens are provided a little comfort when coming in from the cold, they don't stray far from the coop in winter anyway, so there's no need to get used to cold. Happier birds.
 

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off-grid organic farmer
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Oh, my bad. I misunderstood. We let our chickens run around all day unsheltered during the winter. As long as they have adequate shelter to retreat to, I think they'll be fine. Ours were. I don't even think you need those bales of hay at all. But, I'm hardly a chicken expert, I've only had them through two winters. So take the advice for what it is. :)
Hay bales would work as a wind-break. For wind-break I use loading pallets, which tend to have open slots. It is enough to break the wind, but still allows for ample ventilation.

My biggest concern is supporting snow load.

Poultry do not need heated water, or heated living conditions. At least not in this Southern climate. Coldest we see here is -20F. May be different for folks up North though.
 

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Thank you for this:

One of the big concerns with wintering chickens is making sure they have draft free ventilation in their coop. You need to make sure all the moisture they exhale can get out or mold and mildew will set in fast along with respiratory illnesses.
I'm in the process of blocking their door entrance leading to their run at night to keep them warmer, but had already noticed some mold on the ceiling of their coop.

I can increase the size of the holes at the top, but how do I create a draft without cold air coming in?


also thanks for this:

... liquid water but not so much access that they can get in it. Chickens will loose toes and feet to frostbite pretty fast.
Removing the large pan in the garden where they stay most of the day when they are out.
 

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I have chickens in North Carolina, so there really is no comparison. But the ladies generate a lot of heat on their own, given proper nutrition. If you lock them up in a warm, ventilated coop at night they'll be good.

Can they get out of the wind/snow during the day? If so, they are good judges of what they can stand. My girls stayed up off the ground during snow storms.
 
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