Winter is here! We have waist high snow and nice cozy 20’s temps. Good fun for us humans who like to ride studded fat tire bikes and cross country ski. Not so much fun for chickens. Our flock that we picked up this past summer are still getting used to the snow and ice. We had a great fall with them free ranging. Winter has brought on some challenges.
Our birds were used to foraging in several spruce groves on our property. The clusters of forest are scattered along the perimeter of our land. Some of them began to stay in the groves at dusk to avoid the lengthy stretch of deep snow leading back to their coop. This presented a headache for us as we had to go round them up. Not an easy task as you might imagine in dense woods. We have a couple hundred feet of poultry netting which we considered for setting up a contained area around the coop. The problem is that the posts will get frozen into the ground and the 5′ high netting will eventually be barely above the snow if at all.
We have been using the Justin Rhodes ChickShaw for their coop. It is the perfect complement for their free ranging life during warmer months. We love the coop.
If however they don’t free range, the coop is too confining as a full time shelter. We put up a small greenhouse to start seeds in the spring and provide winter shelter for the birds. They have occasionally been using it. To avoid the pesky dusk drama, we decided to make it their full time home.
We waited on moving the flock to see how the hoop house held up to storms and snow. We have had both… 50+ mph winds and deep snow. We can thankfully report that the hoop house has held up well. This structure was based on free web plans that we modified. We put a past post out talking about the build and our changes.
The birds seem pretty happy in it thus far. We put a deep layer of straw down. There is a 2×6 that runs the length of the greenhouse and serves as a perch. They have a galvanized Little Giant feeder. These are great feeders that can last days between refills. We get about 4 days for our 14 chickens. We also supplement their diet with house scraps.
We have a Little Giant 5 gallon galvanized waterer with a heated base. This system has served well in temperatures down to -15 degrees.
We will update later this winter on how this setup works out. They will miss foraging but at least they will not be getting stuck in the snow where they are sitting hawk bait. The bears and the moose don’t bother the chickens but these guys will.