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Author Topic: Winter Tips for Chooks....  (Read 58929 times)

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Winter Tips

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« on: November 24, 2008, 14:15 »
This is a thread around a few things that I do to try and make sure my birds are as happy in winter as they are the rest of the year. Some of these things I have picked up from others on here.
Please add your bits too!  :D  :D Or perhaps a few wintery photos :?:

The weather..

Chooks cope pretty well with the cold,  to help them build up a good body temperature on cold nights I feed mixed corn in the afternoon. I also add a crushed clove of garlic and ACV in their water to help keep bugs away and  to help maintain a healthy gut. I know there are vitamins and supplements out there but I personally feel if the everything else is in place they really shouldn't need them, but thats just me. :D  Finally on the feed front I make sure that the feeders are inside the henhouse but that's because we live close to open fields and dont want to encourage mice and rats! :?
Chooks still need water - so make sure that they have access at all times -sometimes in very cold spells I pop a small drinker inside in case it freezes over later.

It also helps to make sure that the henhouse is the right size for the number of chooks. Chickens will huddle close to keep warm so too few birds in a large shed will mean it is harder to maintain body heat. A blob of vaseline rubbed into the larger combs and wattles will prevent frostbite.

Good ventilation is vital as the chooks will be inside for far longer that those longer halcyon summer days so air must be allowed to circulate without causing a bitter cold draft, chooks cope  very well with low temperatures but a cold draft  whistling through the henhouse can kill. Make sure that ventilation is not situated at perch level.

Bedding should be clean and dry at all times to avoid respiratory problems and damp bedding may harbour bacteria. I use dust extracted straw in the nestboxes (I put in a little extra this time of year) plus good quality wood shavings in the rest of the house. I also like easibed as an alternative to wood shavings as is very absorbant.The chooks will thank you for it particulary if it is wet outside!

Check that the henhouse is secure inside and out, and no tale tale signs of "gnawing" from rats, or possible loose boards or unsecure bolts for a hungry fox to gain entry. This is also a good time to prime a rat trap or two!

Outside..

If your site is very exposed (like mine)try to build wind shelters for them, here are some examples. I have found hazel hurdling scrounged from a timber merchants brilliant and was very cheap.
The landrover hood works well too! :D
« Last Edit: August 05, 2010, 22:01 by Aunt Sally »


Winter Tips

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2008, 15:07 »
Water drinker heating pads -these are quite useful if you have access to mains or maybe can fix up to a battery.

Water Heaters


Automatic Door Openers


the door openers are useful in case you cant get back  home in time to lock those chooks up.

Maltilda Duck - I use gravel or type 1 then covered with a deep layer of wood chips then topped with bark so its nice and soft on their feet! :D
« Last Edit: August 05, 2010, 22:01 by Aunt Sally »

compostqueen

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2008, 11:42 »
I picked up all my girls in turn this morning (not to difficult as I've only got three  :lol: )and applied Vaseline to their wattles, combs and ear tips. They seemed to like it and sat under arm as good as gold  :D

Very, very cold here today, everything is frozen solid, including me  :D

Roll Roll

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2008, 08:29 »
We have a kids paddling pool for our ducks which the chooks drink out of. So far we havent had a problem with ice, but my father in law keeps fish in his pond. To stop the ice covering it completley he floats a ball on top of it. If their is a slight breeze the ball will move to stop ice forming, if it has frozen over just remove the ball to expose the water. I know¬  this wont be of much use to most of you as you may have water bottles. I know it's an old idea which you all know, but just in case. Thanks for the tips foxy, we are still learning ourselfs.
I may take my time.....but i'll get there in the end.

STEVE

Aunt Sally

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2008, 08:35 »
I use  a fish tank heater in my girls drinking water in the coldest of weather  (tip from Munty).  

You have to be careful to allow it to cool right down before putting it back into the fresh water though as it can break if you don't !
Find more about Weather in Maidstone, UK

unaspenser

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2008, 15:27 »
Thanks for the great tips!  Any suggestions about providing light for them to keep them laying?  My girls aren't laying at all any more.  We've hung a bulb in their yard area but it doesn't seem to stop them going down for the night as soon as it gets dark out.
American, married to a Scot... we can't decide which side of the Atlantic we like best.

Foxy

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2008, 17:23 »
You would need to extend light at both the beginning of the day and the end,although it sounds like they have already slowed right down for the winter.

One thing to bear in mind that each hen is born with a finite number of eggs and by laying prolifically early in life will just use them up more quickly-this is a typical of  commercial hybrid hens. Laying is a strain on the birds and it uses a lot of calcium through the laying season, so a lot of peeps prefer to give them a bit of a natural break over the winter months :wink:

look HERE for an example of a lighting system to prolong laying, expensive but does give an idea of the general principles

unaspenser

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2008, 14:28 »
Thanks for the tips, Foxy.  I guess it's probably best to let them do their own thing and take a break.  I have one Dorking and two White-Faced Black Spanish, and we bought them at the worst time of year (in September mid-molt).  We haven't had a single egg from them, but they're still charming and a good source of fertilizer...

Njal

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2008, 13:23 »
Thanks, useful tips.
I was worried our hens were getting cold so I have been putting more straw in their bedding area.
A bit of a pain to clean out but I think it should provide more insulation.

As for extra light - ours haven't slowed down at all yet!
Still an egg each a day and we're not far off midwinter.

Oh, the worst thing about winter hen keeping so far (my first chickeny winter) seems to be not being able to let them out as much. Also, having to slosh through a freezing and soggy garden at 7am in dressing gown to let them out and feed them. Brrr.

Kazoo

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2008, 22:06 »
I have a hen house for 10 birds but only have 3, so during the cold weather I use a cardboard box filled with straw inside the house to reduce the area and hopefully keep the girls warmer.  Once the weather warms up I just remove it .  I also use thick cardboard from boxes to insulate the inside of the house and the base of the nest boxes (where the girls sleep during winter) and put in loads of extra straw (which they take great delight in sorting out each night).  When its really cold the straw bales come out for external insulation.

hippy hen

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2008, 22:27 »
thank you Foxy for you info on keeping the chicks warm. i have done most of the tips already, but will have to see to the air vent(it is a natural one ie, a wood knot hole.) as it is mid front i will divert the airflow. my real prob is i let my hen wander the garden. nipping next door and even over the wall to the farm(there is a handsome male there, one crow from him and they go full pelt down the garden, over the wall and into the barn out of sight. such hussys.) they seem happy and come and peck and jump at the conservetory doors when they want their corn, then they go off to bed and i shut them up for the night. i know there are foxes around the area but am unable to afford elect fence and if i could we have cats around frequently. do you think that it would be better to have a small run for them in the winter months? also this week it rained all day and although they could shelter on the porch of the summer house, they still wondered around in the wet and looked drownd, in the finish i wiped them down with a towl and shut them in their hen house with a good feed of corn, was that right or wrong?
they are laying eggs as if its a new craze. ie, 12 eggs in one week and there are only two hens..... thats no yolk!! two days of which i get three eggs.  help.       ps why dosnt hen poo freeze on frosty mornings?

morganmarni

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chooks in winter
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2008, 21:28 »
Foxy, any tips on keepin the water liquid, we've no access to power for heat pads and we get thick frosts up here, do ya have to do anything woth the garlic before they eat it, are fishing maggots ok for them to eat as a treat, i've heard they like bread in the winter but been told too much can be bad for them, your tips and advice will be much appreciated  :roll:

Foxy

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2008, 22:34 »
when its really frosty I empty the waterer pm and fill up in the morning to prevent them cracking, also I often keep a drinker in the coop, i have large henhouses with plenty of room in them so easy to do so.
Garlic I just crush a clove and pop in a drinker. Maggots OK if they like them, useful source of protein when moulting.
Bread they love -I give them a little wholemeal as a treat -but I avoid white bread contains nothing of value and may ferment if it the birds have not enough grit to move it through their crop.
Hippy Hen -what I have seen work really well is a "saggy" fence leaning outwards, foxes dont like to climb up flimsy structures and do apreciate a leg up from nice solid fencing! A friend of mine uses that without any problems, although he is around during the day to keep an eye on things -but works for him.

happy chick

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2009, 15:57 »
During this recent very cold spell I've been looking after neighbour's two chickens and the plastic poultry drinker that he uses (the mushroom shaped ones with water at the top going into bottom saucer) has frozen completely.  I gave up with these drinkers from day one because my girls kept knocking them over and instead use a sturdy plastic very shallow seed tray/ old baking tray.  This water tray has had a very thin layer of ice on top in the mornings but a coupla pokes of the finger and the water underneath is fine.  It hasn't frozen back up during the day and keeps the birds supplied with necessary water.  

I don't know why the seed tray doesn't ice up completely like the mushroom drinkers, perhaps surface area of water greater? Anyway, I know I'm in a milder area of the country than most but if others are having freezing water problems maybe try a shallower drinking trough with greater surface area??!!!  :D
Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny
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Ygerna

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Winter Tips for Chooks....
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2009, 20:23 »
Ive been using one of these in my chickens drinking water container.

http://www.oscardehn.com/motherandchild/handwarmers.asp

I top the water up in the morning, then late morning I activate the handwarmer and pop it into the water container. It seems to keep it from freezing, then when I shut them up for the night, I take it out, and re-activate it ready for the next day. Seems to be working, the water was still clear when I went out tonight to shut them in.



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