winter care for free range hens

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daisy1990

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winter care for free range hens
« on: September 17, 2010, 20:37 »
we have three hens which have a coop designed for 6 with run attached. As I felt the run was too small I invested in an electric fence and they now have 50 metres enclosed to run in.  This is my first winter so advice please- should I confine them to the run/ coop when it turns cold or continue to let them free range and presume they will put themselves in if it gets too cold for them?  I let them out between 7am and 7pm currently.  The whole garden is surrounded by hawthorne hedge but it is quite exposed

Thanks Daisy
3 dogs, 8 chickens, 4 rabbits 2 guinea pigs, 10 quail, 2 fish and a demanding daughter who has gone to uni and left me with 29 animals to care for!!=)

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evie2

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Re: winter care for free range hens
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2010, 20:44 »
Our first set of hens free ranged and took themselves into the coop when it got cold :D
May this day be blessed with gifts, understanding and friends.  Merlin 2001-2012 Pandora 2001-2013 xxx

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sallylouise

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Re: winter care for free range hens
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2010, 20:48 »
I would carry on as usual they will go in earlier as it gets darker, my chickens were not put off by any weather even when we had the snow they came out it did take them a day or 2 but once they were on the snow they were hilarious, ice skating chickens ;>)

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orchardlady

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Re: winter care for free range hens
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2010, 22:28 »
Daisy.

What a kind hen keeper you are becoming :). Yes keep letting them range around their electrified area. If possible try to move it to a different area from time to time otherwise the hens will eat to death (quite literally) the grass during the non growing season (October -March) and they will then be living on 50 square meters of mud! If you think that your area is a little exposed give them some extra shelter. A sheet of corrugated clear plastic or black Onduline makes an excellent wind break. If possible give them some over head shelter to. Maybe the corrugated sheet lent up against a wall or the coop. My hens will not go into their house when it rains and just stand around looking soggy unless they find shelter.

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tedsdad

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Re: winter care for free range hens
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2010, 22:51 »
They are designed to live outside.As long as they have somewhere to get out of the rain , they will be fine.

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hillfooter

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Re: winter care for free range hens
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2010, 03:16 »
A 50m net is a huge amount of land for three chickens.  That's over 150sqm area and It might be a good idea to conserve some of it by folding the net into two smaller runs in an "S" shaped manner see http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=56897.msg697320#msg697320  Use each half in rotation for 3 months at a time. see image

There's also a sticky on here all about winter care of chickens worth reading.  http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=26974.msg320430#msg320430

Best wishes
HF
50m nets arranged into  two runs.jpg
Truth through science.

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daisy1990

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Re: winter care for free range hens
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2010, 19:44 »
thank you all
yes 50 metres is a lot (I did feet and inches at school and hadn't imagined how large the area was when I ordered on line!)  Good suggestion about laying it out differently (I had thought of buying a 25 metre net and moving it) However we have now rescued three rabbits and a guinea pig which are sharing the space and are buying quail next week so I guess we will soon fill it up!
Thanks again
Daisy



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