The chill of fall is in the air on the homestead and we had a welcome rain blow into our area today. The weather is cooling off quickly here and it’s nearing time to bust out the hot cider, warm throws and the Eden Pure space heater.
The plastic storms will end up on the inside of the wire.
I am always looking for the best winter strategies for helping our chickens deal with the Michigan cold weather; deep snow and winds. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a harsh winter this year and I want to be ready.
Gene has begun building the plastic storms for the new chicken coop and run. He is using 4 ft. long lathe wood strips he buys at Menard’s and cuts 8 mill heavy-duty plastic to fit and screws them both into the wood of the run to make a kind of storm window. This will provide a wind break barrier for the chickens and turn the run area into a mini sun room for the winter.
Because we live 17 miles inland from Lake Michigan we can get some pretty wild windstorms here in the winter with temperatures up to 20 degrees below. In my experience chickens can manage pretty well in the cold as long as they have enough high quality protein to help them build heat internally but they do not prosper in direct drafts.
Chickens are birds not mammals, so they do not require heat in the winter. Their bodies interpret the cold much differently than we do. Both Rhode Island Reds and Cochin Bantams are considered cold hardy breeds with small combs and they will do just fine with bit of planning and my help.
The enclosed Rhodie run with screening on but not storm windows.
So our enclosed run system with plastic storm windows is our answer to combating drafts. Having this space is also a way to get them out of the coop 24/7 and to provide them with some wintertime exercise as well.
Last winter I saw our lightweight Cochin Bantams reacting negatively to the strong winds and it was obvious to me that they are not fond of the wind blowing them around.
The plastic storms are going up one panel at a time.
Last winter they liked hanging out in the enclosed “playpen” run and this year we plan to re-create the same system again. We designed both coops so that they open out into the shared enclosed run through chicken doors. This way the chickens can choose to stay in the coop or go out into their open or their enclosed run and move around depending on the severity weather and their desires.
You can see that both chicken doors from each coop opens up into the run area.
We are “hoping” that the two flocks will successfully tolerate each other during our six month-long winter. The Cochins and the RIR have been integrated now just over five months and are for the most part tolerating each other. How they act when both flocks are sharing the same covered run for months at a time and eating their food and water from the same physical area remains to be seen.
Yes, we have spoiled but very happy chickens!
Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna