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First winter as chicken keeper, anything I need to know?

(10 Posts)
Pixel Sun 07-Oct-12 20:30:05

As title really. I've read in my book about putting vaseline on their combs in the snow to avoid frostbite, does anyone do that or have your chickens been fine anyway? I'm hoping they will be warm enough in their coop with lots of shredded paper but the nest box looks a bit vulnerable sticking out in mid-air like that so I was wondering about putting an old blanket or something over it at night.

The coop needs treating as well so it doesn't rot, as dh failed to read the fine print on the instructions and thought it had already been done when it hadn't. Only prob is he then built the run round the coop and now we can't get it out of the door grin.

monsterchild Sun 07-Oct-12 20:30:47

The eggs burst when they freeze! DO NOT put them in your pockets!

Pixel Sun 07-Oct-12 20:32:01

Ha ha, sounds like the voice of experience grin.

monsterchild Sun 07-Oct-12 20:32:41

Mine only had a solar, and each other to keep warm. By solar, I mean that their indoor coop was glass doors and windows with some wood. It wasn't draft free, and we didn't have a heat lamp. They got on just fine, all huddled together at night. Make sure they can all huddle together. It got quite cold that winter too!

Pixel Sun 07-Oct-12 20:37:06

Well I've left it as a two bay nestbox and taken the partition out so they all cram in there together. The coop has the option of adding another nestbox at the other end but I was worried about one of the girls being left on her own and getting cold (there are three of them). They should be ok then shouldn't they? The run and coop are sheltered by a wall behind them and we thought of hanging a piece of tarp on the side of the run if the rain and wind cut across too much, though it could make it quite dark there if we do that.

Do they need a lot of extra feed in the winter? They seem to eat quite a lot already!

MoreBeta Sun 07-Oct-12 20:38:50

They are quite good at withstanding severe cold like the winter before last.

However make sure they can get out of the wet both under their feet and on their backs. Try to stop drafts blowing on them at night but dont make it airtight. We have a roosting box that has wire on top of it.

They eat more in cold weather. In really severe weather a nice moist warm porridge of grains, scraps of veg is much appreciated in the morning. Do always make sure ice is broken and cleared completely from their water fountain twice a day.

Pixel Sun 07-Oct-12 20:47:47

Sounds like I just have to treat them the same as I do the horses!

DeckSwabber Tue 09-Oct-12 22:25:06

Last winter I brought the water container indoors every night when it was a gard frost. It meant that they had ice free water for longer during the day.

Porridge is good. Mealworms for a bit of extra protein.

Extra straw in the roosting area.

HappyTurquoise Wed 10-Oct-12 11:44:00

Hi, I was wondering the same thing about our chickens. I don't want to buy anything else (the chicken coop cost a small fortune as it is!) so want to try to use things we have lying around the place.
I just thought of making a sturdy polytunnel structure to help insulate the coop and provide a bit of extra dry ground for them. I could even use an old play tent which hasn't been used for years, and just extend it a little to make it the right shape, as long as the poles go right into the ground and are strong enough to stop it blowing away.

monsterchild Wed 10-Oct-12 13:45:28

They are just like horses, they need wind breaks, dry place to hang out and a place to huddle in the evenings. And water, of course. Other than that they seem to be pretty hardy. I am no expert, but we've had a chickens a few years and been through some bad winters. If you get worried you can always use a heat lamp out there for them. For emergencies, like.

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