Winter preparations

The place to discuss chicken coops and runs.

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mikeclough
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Winter preparations

Post by mikeclough » Tue Oct 01, 2019 9:14 am

I'm completely new to keeping chickens. We procured 4 ex-battery chickens in July, provided them with a small hen-house, cordoned off part of our garden for them to scrat around in and so far so good. They seem healthy and happy and are now fully feathered and producing four eggs almost every day. But we are concerned about their well-being if we get a bad winter. Where we live in north-east Cumbria, on the edge of the Pennines, we are subject to horrible weather at times. Specifically, if there is an easterly wind we get a phenomenom called the Helm Wind (apparently the only named wind in the UK) when the wind howls down from the fells, much stronger and colder than elsewhere. Should we provide extra shelter for our chickens? Are they pretty hardy?
bigyetiman
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Re: Winter preparations

Post by bigyetiman » Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:20 pm

Chickens are pretty hardy souls. They like a nice draft proof area to keep freezing winds out and a nice dry draughtproof coop.
The only time ours really sought shelter was when the beast from the east hit last year, luckily we have a large walk in coop and they sought refuge in there whilst the wind was howling, with just brief forays outside.
As most of the winds we get come from the west, we put some bamboo screening around the run on that side, to act as a wind break. Our biggest worry was keeping them supplied with unfrozen water
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chrismahon
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Re: Winter preparations

Post by chrismahon » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:16 am

Ours hate wind, even a moderate breeze and will go into the coop to escape it, meaning they don't eat or drink. It depends I think upon their age and type of feathering, because fluffy birds get their feathers lifted, which removes the insulation and they get cold. We have solid barriers to the West on all our runs by the feeders and drinkers. Obviously during the moult or with poor feathering (like exbatts) the problem is severely compounded.

I think Mike you will need a good windbreak system to keep them happy, healthy and importantly laying. In Summer it could be removed. We used to have a system of suspended 'scaffolding debris netting' (doubled over) which cut the wind down to less than 30% and that was then lifted from the bottom to give them some breeze in hot Summer. It was a system that worked extremely well but can't be used here until we have a proper enclosure with a strong structure that will take the weight and wind loading. This netting also stops driving rain and we use it as hail protection in the vegetable plot- it's very strong and UV resistant.
mikeclough
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Re: Winter preparations

Post by mikeclough » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:41 am

Thanks for the replies. I will definitely be constructing wind breaks for the winter!
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Marigold
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Re: Winter preparations

Post by Marigold » Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:09 am

mikeclough wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:41 am
Thanks for the replies. I will definitely be constructing wind breaks for the winter!
try this - excellent firm, fast delivery, clear tarps long-lasting, easy to cut to size and good value. Just nail them up round exposed sides using wooden battens in winter. Snow proof too - willow screening is excellent but lets snow through.
https://www.tarpaulinsdirect.co.uk/tarp ... -tarpaulin
dianefairhall
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Re: Winter preparations

Post by dianefairhall » Sun Oct 06, 2019 12:35 am

That could be useful, thanks, Marigold. We don't get much snow here but it's bloody windy.
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Marigold
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Re: Winter preparations

Post by Marigold » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:59 am

Does your run have a roof? As well as shelter from wind and snow, a roof will keep them dry and therefore warm. It will also prevent the run floor from getting horribly messy in wet weather. If you can fit a roof with plastic panels and a gutter to take away rain that otherwise would blow in under the edge, you will make it much more pleasant for yourself as well as the birds. My combination of roof + side tarps/willow screening provides a really nice microclimate for them in awful weather. You can take down the tarps when spring arrives (June? !!)
They don't need heating if they're warm and dry, but rain and wind breaks up their otherwise excellent insulation, and if they go to roost with wet feathers, the coop becomes humid as they dry off, and this can lead to respiratory infections.
mikeclough
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Re: Winter preparations

Post by mikeclough » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:00 am

Thanks for the advice. I'm in the process of adding temporary plastic side panels to their run.
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