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Hello Friends, today we are going to talk about Poultry, specifically today we will talk about winterizing your hen house and helping your chickens to be comfortable during the winter months.
Chickens are resilient in pretty much all seasons however, Winter can be stressful and with the cold and shorter days they may slow down on laying or stopping all together, the other issue is eggs freezing before you harvest them. Here we harvest eggs each morning and evening when we lock the birds up for the night.
Chickens and other poultry lay best when the days are longer, and the temperature is tolerable because they lay the most eggs when they believe they can hatch babies it’s like fooling their clocks. We have timers on our lights that kick on at 5 Pm Central time to 11:00 Pm this gives them over 14 hours of light. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunlight, it just had to be light.
When the sun begins to set the timers kick on the lights and ALL the poultry and water fowl will head for the Poultry House and begin roosting so that when we come out they are already roosting and all we do is shut the doors to keep them protected from predators even though we have 3 Great Pyrenees ‘that roam the goat pasture which surrounds the chicken pen and house. (Great Pyrenees’ are livestock protection dogs by their breed. We keep the lights on timers in the summer, but the times change to 6 Pm to 9 Pm CST because they will go to roost without having to chase down poultry.
As said before chickens are hardy BUT they can get frostbite and fall prey to sickness. We take a couple heat lamps lamps (Make sure they have a safety cage on them see picture) and a small heater (Chicken house is 18 Ft Long 6 Ft deep and 7 ½ feet high) this is enough heat to bring the temperatures up high enough to keep the eggs from freezing and give the chickens a way to get at least some comfort. It’s not that they will die but that they are comfortable just think about your comfort and you will understand.
Eggs freezing and busting is another concern and with the heat lamps and heaters (Safety tipping switch suggested, Heat lamps safer) it will bring the temperatures just high enough to prevent freezing and bursting. But they are other things that need to be done. Here at Metro East Farms the first determination was extreme heat and cold, so the poultry house was orientated so that the door faces East this is because the United States the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. In the summer the sun comes up in the east rising and going across the southern horizon and finally setting in the west.
It is much cooler in the morning and as it goes across the southern horizon it gets warmer and eventually hotter before setting in the west. 95% of our storms in the spring and summer come from the south west towards the East and North East driving rain into buildings not oriented thoughtfully. WINTER is another story the sun still rises and sets the same way however most Fall and Winter comes from the North and North West again driving weather such as obscene cold temperatures, sleet and snow into building not oriented with thought.
The BEST orientation for chicken houses, rabbit hutches, dog houses and even barns are best if the entrances and fronts of rabbit hutches face the East because it gets light, no hot sun directly into the buildings and or weather and trees will help providing some shade in the summer and fall and winter no leaves it will benefit from the sun hitting the buildings.
The other thing to consider is insulation this can be done cheaply fiberglass insulation rolls are cheap, Generic paneling or super thin paneling is cheap and it’s able to keep the temperatures more consistent. One other thing is air circulation, DON’T cover your ventilation openings instead only cover ¾ of the ventilation area. We have a hole at both the top and bottom we cover the bottom opening screen completely except for a 1-inch gap at the top of the bottom opening and then we cover the top opening screen ¾ to allow the ammonia and such to escape
I hope this has helped you. I know some people will disagree there always is someone that thinks they are a professional or a know it all, but this is how we do it and it works and that is what is important. BUT don’t feed your chickens inside the poultry house many reasons but I’ll let you google that. You can place water inside to keep thawed but be aware you’re probably going to have to clean the container more. Here we use a floating Anti-Ice device that keeps the temperatures high enough to prevent freezing. We use a 15-gallon galvanized tub and 2 kiddie swimming pools for the ducks HOWEVER we don’t fill the kiddie pools when freezing is in a 24-hour window because ducks require water to moisten food so they can swallow.
I hope this helps, please consider joining our mailing list here on Metro East farms so you receive the newsletters and post in your EMail.
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