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Winter Tips for poultry
#1
Was just thinking after browsing, and my applogies if I have missed it.

It would be handy to compile a 'general tips for winter' sticky if possible (kind of like best practice rather than minimum requirement). And I know people think I pamper mine, so appologies up front, but I do believe we can do a great deal for relatively little effort if we take the time to think and plan ahead.

I appreciate too we have a wide range of poultry keepers here, from 2 or 3 in the back garden to breeders with 50 to a 100 plus over several acres. From beginners to veterans; but I am guessing most of the principals would be generic how ever many you have.

Obviously I am no expert, so hoping people could correct or add to this accordingly till we had a good summary of points maybe.. One assumes these pointers to be for general poultry rather any rare or special needs fowl.

1: Keep your poultry as dry as possible (plenty of shelter from wind and rain).

2: Ensure the coop is as draft free as possible.

3: Make sure the coop ventilation is both suffcient and not directly in line with the wind (ideally well above their heads and not causing a draught).

4: Add extra bedding in the coop for the winter months and try to remove poo more frequently.

5: Ensure a fresh water supply at all times (ie not frozen)

6: Make sure feed is kept dry and sheltered, likewise the girls should be able to eat and drink in a shelterd area away from the elements.

7: You may concider a hand full of corn before bed so they have some slow burn warmth through the cold nights.

8: Add some fresh vegetables once a week (if possible) and maybe the occasional protean like meal worms (to help them finish there moult)

I am sure there are many more or maybe I am off target with some of the above.

1 to 4 is all about avoiding respitory issues over the winter months. The chooks will be spending the most amount of time in the coop than any other time of the year (except when broody) so I believe now is the time to be stepping up cleanlyness even though its may not be something you fell like jumping up to do every night. Its the winter months I feel your chooks need you most. And now is the time when a practical design of coop will reap benefits. Having previously purchased 2 different coops on line, and what I thought to be good quality... I now feel they where not necessarily practical for cleaning, or healthy for my chooks. Hence I ended up making my own. Even now I think mine is too short at 4' tall, because once you have added 2 perches, there needs to be more height from the head of the girls to the ventilation to avoid draughts.

I have put some insulation foam on top of the coop, which I will remove once temperatures start rising again towards the end of winter. And yes I am concious of potencial creepy crawlies.. but I did it last year and I think it helped a little, especially when it got well below freezing.

Best regards

Jack
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#2
Thats a great idea, having a reference list. We have keeping chickens for just one year and made it through last winter with more luck than judgement. Thanks for taking the trouble to write it all out.
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#3
:goodpost:Good idea Jack

I would be interested toi hear from those that use the deep litter system over winter, when do you decide its time to stop clearing out the muck and top up the bedding instead?

Do you need a special flooring that resists rotting whilst the resulting warming compost grows over the winter months.

When do you decide enough is enough and clear the lot out ?

I have yet to try this but hate freezing whilst pooh picking and sifting the bedding each weekend so it sounds quite tempting.
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#4
One thing  to do in the coming year is to fully roof their run.This will help prevent the mud baths that occur's every winter.The only area they have that stays quite dry is under the coop itself.

For ease of cleaning I would recommend a coop that you yourself can actually get into.

I have moved the topic to Feeding/health care and pinned it.

So you will be able to find it easy.  Smile
CHUCKLERS RULE THE ROOST - Dave. Zen Seeker of The Board. rabbit run
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#5
Good idea Jack

I would be interested to hear from those that use the deep litter system over winter, when do you decide its time to stop clearing out the muck and top up the bedding instead?

Do you need a special flooring that resists rotting whilst the resulting warming compost grows over the winter months.

When do you decide enough is enough and clear the lot out ?

I have yet to try this but hate freezing whilst pooh picking and sifting the bedding each weekend so it sounds quite tempting.

[/quote]

Oddly enough I was reading about this today - usually you start your deep litter off in August, so that there is still some warmth to encourage the bedding to start heating up and decaying. About 3 - 4 inches deep. You have to keep stirring it around and putting fresh stuff on top. You only clean it out come spring once things have warmed up again.

I tried it last winter, and as long as you keep stirring/forking it over and putting fresh stuff on top it works well. It doesn't smell much either when you do it properly. Apparently you need to mix it up about once every 10 days or so. Hope that helps!

P.S. the Ammonia in the bedding kills off the worm eggs, cocci thingies and other nasties of a similar nature. (or so they say in the book!)
You've only got one life - live it!
squizzers
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#6
Quote:Oddly enough I was reading about this today - usually you start your deep litter off in August, so that there is still some warmth to encourage the bedding to start heating up and decaying. About 3 - 4 inches deep. You have to keep stirring it around and putting fresh stuff on top. You only clean it out come spring once things have warmed up again.

I tried it last winter, and as long as you keep stirring/forking it over and putting fresh stuff on top it works well. It doesn't smell much either when you do it properly. Apparently you need to mix it up about once every 10 days or so. Hope that helps!

P.S. the Ammonia in the bedding kills off the worm eggs, cocci thingies and other nasties of a similar nature. (or so they say in the book!)

Thanks Squizzers knew someone would have the answer, left it a bit late for this year then - might give it a go next year.
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#7
Quote:Thanks Squizzes knew someone would have the answer, left it a bit late for this year then  roll eyes  might give it a go next year.

I don't think it is too late at all! Give it a go, but keep an eye on it. If it starts to look a bit damp, put more bedding in to dry it out a bit. I also sprinkle Stalosan in mine too - but it shouldn't really need it. I just like the smell (albeit an expensive smell!)  Big Grin
You've only got one life - live it!
squizzers
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#8
One for the poultry keeper's benefit rather than the birds, but a really useful thing. When it starts to get cold enough to freeze at night, give all padlocks, bolts etc. a good squirt of WD40, it stops them from freezing so you can't open them. Repeat every few weeks throughout the winter.

Second tip: adding Apple Cider Vinegar to the drinking water (5ml per litre) will help it stop freezing by a couple of degrees. Standing drinkers on a microwave heat pad during severe cold weather will help stop them freezing.
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#9
(20-12-2011, 09:26 PM)PrettyandFluffy Wrote: One for the poultry keeper's benefit rather than the birds, but a really useful thing.  When it starts to get cold enough to freeze at night, give all padlocks, bolts etc. a good squirt of WD40, it stops them from freezing so you can't open them.  Repeat every few weeks throughout the winter.

Second tip: adding Apple Cider Vinegar to the drinking water (5ml per litre) will help it stop freezing by a couple of degrees.  Standing drinkers on a microwave heat pad during severe cold weather will help stop them freezing.

Most important for winter of course is renewing the water every day to check it isn't freezing, and if it is to make sure they get enough time to drink it before it freezes up again. Second is keeping them dry. Warm and draught free can be OTT. If they are two warm in the house this causes problems when they come out. They are much more liable to get runny noses and breathing problems if their house is warm and stuffy. woot  You don't want too much temperature differential. My bantam live happily in trees in temperatures down to -4 and wind and rain. I don't recommend this for chooks that aren't used to it, or for anything with large combs, but remember chooks are much more resilient than humans. As for the bedding chooks don't need any. They should all be on perches, and what is on the floor in the house only makes a difference to your ability to clean more easily. It doesn't help or hamper the chooks at all.
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#10
I agree re checking the water throughout the day. We had snow today and the chooks were very suspicious of it - didn't like walking over it at all! Some even tried to fly over the snow to a thawed out patch of grass.

I also gave them some warm porridge as a treat.
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#11
Interesting thought there re bedding in chook houses Animartco. I hadn't thought of it that way Smile But you're right, it does make life easier when it comes to cleaning.

The trick for everyone when it comes to building/buying chook houses is how much ventilation there is without it being a draught. I use open fronted pens for my birds - closed on three sides, roofed with an earth floor and a completely open mesh front on the fourth. I've found they are far more healthy with no sniffs and absolutely no frozen combs even when the temps drop down really low.

It's the buildup of moisture in the coop which causes frostbite, as the damp settles on their comb. I feel far too many keepers think because they are cold, their chickens must be cold, forgetting that most birds have just grown a completely new set of feathers and are far warmer than their owners.

That's why birds moult in autumn - new feathers are warmer than old feathers - we've only to look at our own duvets to find that new one's are fluffie,r trapping the air, than an old one that is flat and got cold patches!
You've only got one life - live it!
squizzers
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#12
That is true Squizzers. Even though I have the vent of the hen house open all the time - I do notice condensation on the underside of the roof. I open the roof on some days - but I should go back to opening both doors back and front during the day to at least let the house dry out properly.
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#13
Winter has arrived! The chooks did NOT want to go out in the snow - it was only after I chased the 'Boss' out that the hens reluctantly followed, with a bit of bribery. Some even 'flew' over the snow to a patch of thawed out grass - then couldn't get home again - at least not without some encouragement from me!

   
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#14
Your birds are gorgeous SF. X
If they can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love.
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#15
(18-01-2016, 10:27 AM)chickenmum Wrote: Your birds are gorgeous SF. X
 
Many thanks. It took a while to integrate the Plymouth Rocks with the Welsummers, the PRs are definitely at the bottom of the pecking order though. I just wonder what will happen when the PR cockerel matures though - I don't know how the Boss will react. So far, so good....
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