The local weather channels have been warning us of an impending snow storm and arctic winds blowing in for a few days. There was a pretty significant ice storm just before the Christmas holiday that reminded us the dangers weather presents living in the North. The grocery store shelves are empty, but we were able to stock up on the essentials and extra water, batteries and chicken supplies of straw, bedding, electrolytes and feed. This article is to tell you how we prepare for the snow and cold with our small backyard flock.
|Empty Grocery Store Shelves|
The run lays dormant at the moment. The Ladies are not fans of the snow. On milder days, when we open the doors for them, they stay on the edge of the coop and peer out, almost daring the one in front to step foot on the white stuff. None of them want to take the bait, one lady does occasionally get pushed out and is usually none to happy about it. Squawking loudly may or may not happen. We raise mostly Blue Laced Red Wyandottes, a breed that is cold hearty enough to survive through a Michigan winter. They have less prominent combs and wattles that help minimize frostbite. We also have only laying hens, no rooster with their beautiful plumage and larger combs that may need extra care through the winter months.
|Easter Egger braved the snow|
My coop is a salt box design. The roof has a nice peak that allows for snow to slide off as well as giving the Ladies a high spot to roost on the inside. There are windows that we have covered in clear plexiglass so that they may still get light, but it blocks out the wind. We do not use heat lamps or any type of coop heater with the exception of a heated waterer. This we perched on top of bricks and inside a much large rubber feed bowl. The rubber is heavy enough that the birds do not flip it and it also protects against spills. We use a waterer that has no exposed heating elements and we do not leave it turned on overnight unattended. Please use caution when deciding if a heated waterer is right for your coop, flock and personal situation.
With accumulations of up to 15 inches expected to fall, we knew we needed to buff up our coop. Snow itself is a great insulator. To take advantage of the amounts falling, we lined the most exposed sides of the outside of the coop with bales of straw. This is to help cut down on the wind and to give another layer of buffer between our coop and the frigid, whipping wind that happens in these conditions.
Inside the coop, we add extra bedding. We use pine shavings and work with the deep liter method. To the food, I added extra meal worms to their normal layer crumbles. The added protein will be a benefit as the chickens will be hunkering down and trying to stay warm. There is a heated waterer to insure they have unfrozen water. My goal is to open the coop as little as possible as to minimize the loss of latent heat that is gained from the birds, liter and insulation. By all means, you must check on your birds. Looking for signs of frost bite as well as making sure they have sufficient water and food, but keeping your trips in and out the coop to a minimum will help with warmth.
Not all of our animals are off put by the snow. It seems, the dogs as well as the kids are enjoying all the white swirling around. It is a winter wonderland out there, if you are prepared for it. Dressing warm, and in layers goes for people and minimizing exposure to the elements for all animals not just our chickens. Stay warm my friends. If you happen to be living in a mild climate…or Australia, stay cool. I love that about Community Chickens, we are truly a global community.