Nov 21, 2013

Surviving Winter with Chickens

 The thought of surviving winter with chickens doesn't have to send chills up your spine. There are really only two things that are critical to a backyard flock in cold temperatures: access to water and a dry coop.
Thoughts of surviving winter with chickens doesn't have to send chills up your spine. There are only two things that are critical to a backyard flock in cold temperatures: access to water and a dry coop. Actively planning to ensure both is the key to cold weather survival with chickens. When best coop management practices for good ventilation and waste handling are already in effect, bracing for winter's bite shouldn't require much effort. 
 The thought of surviving winter with chickens doesn't have to send chills up your spine. There are really only two things that are critical to a backyard flock in cold temperatures: access to water and a dry coop.
WATER IS ESSENTIAL
Water is the essential nutrient in a chicken's daily diet; it is required for regulating body temperature, digestion, growth and egg production. Lack of access to water for even a few hours can result in a drop in egg production for weeks. Chickens eat more in the winter to regulate their temperature and they require water to digest food- if water is frozen, they will not eat and cannot warm themselves properly.
Water is the essential nutrient in a chicken's daily diet; it is required for regulating body temperature, digestion, growth and egg production. Lack of access to water for even a few hours can result in a drop in egg production for weeks. Chickens eat more in the winter to regulate their temperature and they require water to digest food- if water is frozen, they will not eat and cannot warm themselves properly.
With temperatures in the teens overnight and 25°F at the time I took this picture, the water in The Chicken Fountain remained liquid.
3 Solutions to frozen water:
1. Cookie Tin water heater: For less than $10 and 10 minutes, a water heater can be fashioned out of common household objects, which will keep water in plastic and metal waterers liquid in sub-zero temperatures. (limitation: electricity required)
Cookie Tin water heater: For less than $10 and 10 minutes, a water heater can be fashioned out of common household objects, which will keep water in plastic and metal waterers liquid in sub-zero temperatures. (limitation: electricity required)
2. Poultry Nipple waterers: There are many different nipple water systems that can be installed to ensure water supply, from a homemade system with a 5 gallon bucket and aquarium heater to a commercially available system with its own heating system such as The Chicken Fountain. (limitation: electricity required)
There are many different nipple water systems that can be installed to ensure water supply, from a homemade system with a 5 gallon bucket and aquarium heater to a commercially available system with its own heating system such as The Chicken Fountain. (limitation: electricity required)
3. Haul it: Without electricity to the coop, traditional waterers require changing frequently throughout the day to prevent freezing. They should be emptied or removed at dusk and returned to the flock first thing in the morning. (not the most efficient system, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do)
 Without electricity to the coop, traditional waterers require changing frequently throughout the day to prevent freezing. They should be emptied or removed at dusk and returned to the flock first thing in the morning. (not the most efficient system, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do)
MOISTURE IS THE ENEMY
While access to drinking water is essential, ironically, water is also the enemy of chickens in winter. Most breeds tolerate cold extremely well, but freezing temperatures inside the coop in addition to moisture is the recipe for frostbite. Chickens generate a great deal of moisture from respiration (breathing) as well as from pooping as droppings consist of 85% water. If the windows of the coop have condensation on them in the morning, there is not enough ventilation in the coop.
While access to drinking water is essential, ironically, water is also the enemy of chickens in winter. Most breeds tolerate cold extremely well, but freezing temperatures inside the coop in addition to moisture is the recipe for frostbite.
Read all about frostbite prevention and treatment here.

Frostbite is most likely to occur overnight in a cold, poorly ventilated coop where litter is damp and moisture from droppings and respiration cannot escape. Frostbite to combs, wattles, and toes can interfere with fertility in roosters and egg production in hens.  Roosters and breeds with single combs are at the greatest risk of frostbite. It can't hurt to apply petroleum jelly to combs and wattles at night to prevent any moisture from clinging to them, but the jury is out on whether it really prevents frostbite.
Droppings boards are essentially a shelf designed to collect chicken poop deposited overnight. The boards are scraped down every morning, and the poop is removed from the coop. The less poop inside the coop, the less moisture in the coop. Droppings also generate ammonia, which can be a respiratory hazard to the flock, particularly in a closed coop. When droppings boards are used, a major source of humidity & ammonia are eliminated.
STRATEGIES FOR CONTROLLING MOISTURE:
If utilizing a hygrometer inside the chicken coop, the target relative humidity is 50-70%. 
Use Droppings Boards
Droppings boards are essentially a shelf designed to collect chicken poop deposited overnight. The boards are scraped down every morning, and the poop is removed from the coop. The less poop inside the coop, the less moisture in the coop. Droppings also generate ammonia, which can be a respiratory hazard to the flock, particularly in a closed coop. When droppings boards are used, a major source of humidity & potential ammonia are eliminated.
If utilizing a hygrometer inside the chicken coop, the target relative humidity is 50-70%
Don't Keep Water Inside the Coop
I strongly suggest keeping waterers out of the hen house. While controlling moisture from respiration and droppings is manageable with excellent ventilation, it is impossible to keep ahead of the moisture curve if waterers spill in the bedding. As long as the flock is given access to water at daybreak, there is no need for water inside the coop. 
I strongly suggest keeping waterers out of the hen house. While controlling moisture from respiration and droppings is manageable with excellent ventilation, it is impossible to keep ahead of the moisture curve if waterers spill in the bedding. As long as the flock is given access to water at daybreak, there is no need for water inside the coop.
Chickens should not be without water for more than an hour or so during the day. If using supplemental lighting to promote continued egg production in autumn and winter, I suggest using a poultry nipple waterer inside the coop for the very early morning hours before the flock is let out into the run. This will minimize the amount of water than could spill in the bedding. A drip pan of some sort to catch stray droplets is a good idea. Remove the waterer from the coop when the flock is let out of the coop for the day.
Chickens should not be without water for more than an hour or so during the day. If using supplemental lighting to promote continued egg production in autumn and winter, I suggest using a poultry nipple waterer inside the coop for the very early morning hours before the flock is let out into the run. This will minimize the amount of water than could spill in the bedding. A drip pan of some sort to catch stray droplets is a good idea. Remove the waterer from the coop when the flock is let out of the coop for the day.
The use of sand as litter inside the chicken coop is an outstanding choice in the winter because it evaporates moisture more rapidly than other litter and stays drier as a result. Sand also retains warmth better than any other bedding and given its high thermal mass, it will keep coop temperatures more stable than other litter choices such as pine shavings and straw. Sweet PDZ sprinkled in the litter will help control moisture and ammonia. Much more about how Sweet PDZ works HERE..
The use of sand as litter inside the chicken coop is an outstanding choice in the winter because it evaporates moisture more rapidly than other litter and stays drier as a result. Sand also retains warmth better than any other bedding and given its high thermal mass, it will keep coop temperatures more stable than other litter choices such as pine shavings and straw. Sweet PDZ sprinkled in the litter will help control moisture and ammonia.
The thought of surviving winter with chickens doesn't have to send chills up your spine. There  are only two things that are critical to a backyard flock in cold temperatures: access to water and a dry coop.
Properly Execute the Deep litter method
Deep litter is a method of chicken waste management that calls for droppings and bedding material to compost inside the chicken coop. There is a popular misconception that deep litter is the lazy man's way of heating the coop and managing litter, however, deep litter actually requires careful management, which includes stirring and monitoring moisture content. The deep litter method implemented improperly can be a serious health hazard to the flock. To properly manage deep litter: DON'T change the litter every few weeks, DON'T begin the process mid-winter,  DON'T keep less than 4 inches of litter on the coop floor, DON'T use diatomaceous earth (DE) in the litter and DON'T reloy on the chickens to do all of the turning. For much more information about how to employ the deep litter method correctly, click here.
Insulating is intended to retain radiant heat and reduce heat loss, making it more feasible to ventilate the coop well.
Insulation on coop roof.
INSULATE & ELIMINATE DRAFTS
 Insulating is intended to retain radiant heat and reduce heat loss, making it more feasible to ventilate the coop well. Insulating a coop does NOT mean making it air-tight. If there are gaps in walls or around windows that are not being used for ventilation, they should be sealed to prevent drafts. Insulation must be hidden from the chickens- otherwise they will eat it. Feed bags are a cost-effective choice for covering insulation.

We insulate the roof of our 4'x6' coop. The north and west-facing walls of the coop are protected from the wind by heavyweight plastic covering the run walls. That is enough insulation to keep the residents comfortable without supplemental heat in our New England winters.

Bales of straw or hay should not be placed inside the chicken coop as insulation. Mold and fungus and mites often grow inside the hay, creating a respiratory disaster zone inside the coop; of particular concern is Aspergillosis (brooder pneumonia). Far better to have a cold coop than sick chickens.
Bales of straw or hay should not be placed inside the chicken coop as insulation. Mold and fungus can grow inside the bales and create a respiratory disaster area inside the coop, in particular, Aspergillosis (brooder pneumonia). Far better to have a cold coop than sick chickens.
Bales of straw or hay should not be placed inside the chicken coop as insulation. Mold and fungus can grow inside the bales and create a respiratory disaster area inside the coop, in particular, Aspergillosis (brooder pneumonia). Far better to have a cold coop than sick chickens.
CREATE WIND-BREAKS:
Covering run walls with 4 or 6 ml contractor's plastic sheeting or tarps can serve several purposes: it provides the flock with a warmer run by keeping rain, wind and snow out during the day and it can keep the coop warmer and draft-free at night, depending upon the location of the run relative to the coop. Furring strips should be nailed or screwed to the structure to ensure that the plastic remains in place.
Covering run walls with construction grade plastic sheeting or tarps can serve several purposes: it provides the flock with a warmer run by keeping rain, wind and snow out during the day and it can keep the coop warmer and draft-free at night, depending upon the location of the run relative to the coop. Furring strips should be nailed or screwed to the structure to ensure that the plastic remains in place.
VENTILATE WITHOUT DRAFTS
Ensuring adequate ventilation is the single most important cold weather chicken care task. Yes, even more important than heat. Why? Because ammonia and moisture must have a route of escape from the coop even if it means losing some heat in the process. Fresh air inside the coop is critical to chickens' health.
Ensuring adequate ventilation is the single most important cold weather chicken care task. Yes, even more important than heat. Why? Because ammonia and moisture must have a route of escape from the coop even if it means losing some heat in the process. Fresh air inside the coop is critical to chickens' health.
HOW TO VENTILATE A COOP:
The goal is to get as much air exchange throughout the coop as possible without drafts, particularly in the roost area. Ideally there will be windows and/or vents on all four sides of the coop. Ventilation holes towards the top of the coop, far above roost height and chicken height are best for achieving effective cold weather air exchange. If your coop does not have adequate ventilation, create more. Think: windows, not little holes. A reciprocating saw, some hinges, hardware cloth and washers/screws are all the supplies necessary to install additional ventilation in an existing coop.
The thought of surviving winter with chickens doesn't have to send chills up your spine. There  are only two things that are critical to a backyard flock in cold temperatures: access to water and a dry coop.
We built our Little Deuce coop with vented eaves and a 9 foot ceiling. Yes, the warmest air will exit through the ventilation at the top of the coop, but warm air holds more moisture than cold air and the warmest air will take the moisture with it, which is the precisely what we want to accomplish.
The goal is to get as much air exchange throughout the coop as possible without drafts, particularly in the roost area. Ideally there will be windows and/or vents on all four sides of the coop. Ventilation holes towards the top of the coop, far above roost height and chicken height are best for achieving effective cold weather air exchange. If your coop does not have adequate ventilation, create more.
We did not build our 4'x6' coop- it came with three functioning windows on two opposing walls, but they did not provide enough ventilation for cooling in the summer, so...we cut more windows in the coop. The photo below shows the drop-down window we created above the pop door. Since the walls of the run are covered with heavy plastic in the winter, I can use the homemade coop vents in conjunction with the factory-installed windows to promote airflow in the coop.
The take-home message is: install as much ventilation as high up on the walls as possible while ensuring that the air over the roost remains still. You want the warmest, heaviest air moving up and out of the coop. If necessary, create a roost hood, which is like an awning over the roost (see photo above) to ensure that the pocket of air around the roosting chickens remains still. They're expending energy to keep themselves warm and cold drafts will rob them of it.
The take-home message is: install as much ventilation as high up on the walls as possible while ensuring that the air over the roost remains still. You want the warmest, heaviest air moving up and out of the coop. If necessary, create a roost hood, which is like an awning over the roost to ensure that the pocket of air above the roosting chickens remains still. They're expending energy to keep themselves warm and cold drafts will rob them of it.
This roost hood is made with styrofoam insulation boards, which the chickens may peck at- if they do, covering the sheets with duct tape will solve that problem.
This roost hood is made with styrofoam insulation boards, which the chickens may peck at- if they do, covering the sheets with duct tape will solve that problem. 
THE HOT TOPIC: HEAT IN THE COOP
Wherever you live, your chickens will naturally acclimate to the changes in temperature from season to season.  Regardless of where you come down on the issue of heating the chicken coop, please remember that a chicken's physiology is not the same as a person's. Our perception of how cold we would be in the coop at night is not the same as a chicken's perception. 
Wherever you live, your chickens will naturally acclimate to the changes in temperature from season to season.  Regardless of where you come down on the issue of heating the chicken coop, please remember that a chicken's physiology is not the same as a person's. Our perception of how cold we would be in the coop at night is not the same as a chicken's perception.
Doc Brown is keeping herself warm by fluffing out her feathers to trap warm air next to her body
Doc Brown is shown here keeping herself warm by fluffing out her feathers to trap warm air next to her body.
How a Chicken Regulates Body Temperature
A chicken is able to increase its body temperature by eating more in cold weather. Digestion creates internal heat, which radiates through the skin warming the air next to it, which is then trapped against its body by feathers. Chickens are tiny furnaces wrapped in down coats!
A chicken is able to increase its body temperature by eating more in cold weather. Digestion creates internal heat, which radiates through the skin warming the air next to it, which is then trapped against its body by feathers. Chickens are tiny furnaces wrapped in down coats!
A chicken is also able to conserve body heat by restricting blood-flow to its comb, wattles and feet, the very parts of the body that give off excess heat in warm weather. Not only do they have mechanisms to keep themselves comfortable in the cold, they huddle together to keep each other comfortable and warm.
Installing 2"x4" boards instead of round roosts provides them with the ability to cover and warm their feet.
A chicken is also able to conserve body heat by restricting blood-flow to its comb, wattles and feet, the very parts of the body that give off excess heat in warm weather. Not only do they have mechanisms to keep themselves comfortable in the cold, they huddle together to keep each other warm.
I took the following photo inside the coop late at night after an all day snowstorm. The day's high temperature was 18°F and the temperature outside at 11pm was 18°F. The temperature inside the coop was nearly 40°F! The combination of windbreaks, insulation, sand as litter and the chickens' collective body heat all contribute to an extremely reasonable, comfortable and dry environment for the flock.
IF you decide to add heat to the chicken coop in the winter, I implore you to please put safety first in choosing a heat source.
IF you decide to add heat to the chicken coop in the winter, 
please put safety first in choosing a heat source.
Use a less hazardous form of heat such as a flat panel, radiant heater. Only supply enough heat to raise the coop temperature a few degrees- the coop should not feel warm to you. Chickens are not served well by walking out of a toasty hen house into a freezing cold run. The more time they spend inside the coop, the more droppings accumulate inside the coop, the more moisture there is inside the coop, the less exercise they get, etc.
This flat panel radiant heater product is available online 
under various names for between $38 and $50
Another option to raise the temperatures inside the coop a few degrees is an oil filled radiator, BUT the inclination may be to heat the coop instead of just raising the temperatures a few degrees. That temptation should be resisted. The coop should not vary in temperature drastically from outside temps.
Another safer heat option to raise the temperatures inside the coop a few degrees is an oil filled radiator, BUT the inclination may be to heat the coop instead of just raising the temperatures a few degrees. That temptation should be resisted. The coop should not vary in temperature drastically from outside temps. These units would also need to be carefully monitored and vacuumed regularly due to the dust inherent to chicken coops. 
  • Never use a brooder heat lamp. There is simply no way to make heat lamps completely safe regardless of the number of chains/clamps/tethers or guards employed. Chickens have wings and feathers that are highly flammable- any scuffle inside the coop can send a chicken and/or feathers flying into a heat lamp, catching them on fire. There is no way to use a traditional heat lamp safely in the chicken coop.
There is simply no way to make heat lamps completely safe regardless of the number of chains/clamps/tethers or guards employed. Chickens have wings and feathers that are highly flammable- any scuffle inside the coop can send a chicken and/or feathers flying into a heat lamp, catching them on fire.
Fires like this occur every year in coops and barns due to 
heat lamps installed with the best of intentions.
  • Use a safe form of heat such as a flat panel, radiant heater. Only supply enough heat to raise the coop temperature a few degrees- the coop should not feel warm to you. Chickens are not served well by walking out of a toasty hen house into a freezing cold run. The more time they spend inside the coop, the more droppings accumulate inside the coop, the more moisture there is inside the coop, the less exercise they get, etc. 
Automatically regulate the use of electric heat sources such as a flat panel heater or cookie tin water heater by utilizing a device like the Thermo Cube TC3, which will turn the power on at 35°F and off at 45°F










  • Automatically regulate the use of electric heat sources such as a flat panel heater or cookie tin water heater by utilizing a device like the Thermo Cube TC3, which will turn the power on at 35°F and off at 45°F. (there are other models that turn on at 0, off at 10, on at 20, off at 30)
  • Plan for power failure. If you do not have a generator to power a heat source to the coop during a blackout, do not heat the coop at all. Chickens have died and will die as a result of sudden drops in temperature from a power outage when the coop is heated.
    Plan for power failure. If you do not have a generator to power a heat source to the coop during a blackout, do not heat the coop at all. Chickens have died and will die as a result of sudden drops in temperature from a power outage when the coop is heated.
    The bigger the run, (aka: enclosed outdoor area attached to the coop) the better. A spacious run gives chickens the personal space and exercise opportunities that do not exist inside the average coop. Chickens must be provided with elbow room to fend off boredom, obesity and avoid behavioral problems such as feather picking and egg-eating.
    chicken sweaters are not only unnecessary, they may be counterproductive, here's why:
    CHICKEN SWEATERS: Just say NO!
    The average chicken does NOT NEED a sweater. I'm not trying to be the Fun Police, I'm all about taking eggcellent care of pet chickens and enjoy a little silliness with them from time-to-time, but I have long felt that chicken sweaters are not only unnecessary, they can be hazardous, here's why:

    1. A sweater prevents a chicken from keeping itself warm naturally. (see "How a chicken regulates body temperature," above)

    2. A sweater will trap moisture next to the chicken's skin, which further impedes its ability to stay warm and encourages lice & mites to set up camp on feathers and skin.

    3. A sweater is a painful proposition for a molting hen whose sensitive pin feathers are better left untouched.

    4. A sweater prevents a chicken from maintaining their own hygiene; dust-bathing and preening their feathers are important to keeping parasite populations down and feathers in good working order.
    A chicken sweater provides hawks with a handy carrying-case for a free-range chicken. Let's not make their jobs any easier.
    5. A chicken sweater provides hawks with a handy carrying-case for a free-range chicken. Let's not make their jobs any easier.

    6. A roosters spurs or nails can get caught in a sweater while mating, which is a strangling hazard to the hen and a dangerous situation for the rooster who cannot free himself. 
    A roosters spurs or nails can get caught in a sweater while mating, which is a strangling hazard to the hen and a dangerous situation for the rooster who cannot free himself.
    The average, molting chicken in winter does not need a sweater. Take the cute photo and then pack it away with the Halloween costume that she also finds irritating.
    Battery hens that are primarily naked in cold weather may be an exception to the above, but even then, often the sweaters contribute more to making humans feel better about "doing something" for neglected birds than they actually contribute to the bird's well being.  In freezing temperatures, the average backyard chicken that is molting would be better served by an indoor dog crate in the basement or garage.

    OUTSIDE SHELTER:
    The bigger the run, (aka: enclosed outdoor area attached to the coop) the better. A spacious run gives chickens the personal space and exercise opportunities that do not exist inside the average coop. Chickens must be provided with elbow room to fend off boredom, obesity and avoid behavioral problems such as feather picking and egg-eating. The bare minimum space allocation in the run per bird is ten square feet.
    Most chickens dislike walking in snow, but will venture out into a clear or shoveled area. Some chickens will brave the snow voluntarily, but don't try to force, cajole, encourage or bribe them into going outside. Allow them the opportunity to wander out by leaving the door to a protected run open, but let them decide where they want to spend their time.
    If the run is not currently covered, cover it. Most chickens dislike walking in snow, but will venture out into a clear or shoveled area. Some chickens will brave the snow voluntarily, but don't try to force, cajole, encourage or bribe them into going outside. Allow them the opportunity to wander out by leaving the door to a protected run open, but let them decide where they want to spend their time. 
    When temperatures are extreme and/or are accompanied by precipitation and/or wind, chickens would be well served by being contained to a covered run. Extreme cold in addition to wind/snow/rain puts chickens, even cold-hardy breeds, at risk for frostbitten feet, combs and wattles.
    When temperatures are extreme and/or are accompanied by precipitation and/or wind, chickens should be confined to a completely winterized and covered run. Extreme cold in addition to wind/snow/rain puts chickens, even cold-hardy breeds, at risk for frostbitten feet, combs and wattles. My New England flock appreciates a spacious run protected from the elements when it's dangerously cold outside.
    When temperatures are extreme and/or are accompanied by precipitation and/or wind, chickens would be well served by being contained to a covered run. Extreme cold in addition to wind/snow/rain puts chickens, even cold-hardy breeds, at risk for frostbitten feet, combs and wattles.
    MISCELLANEOUS WINTER PREP TIPS:
    Clean It: The chicken coop and run should be deep-cleaned in autumn. Remove everything that is not permanently affixed and clean it well. Unless the deep litter method or sand are being used as coop litter, all of the bedding and nest box material should be replaced.
    The chicken coop and run should be deep-cleaned in autumn. Remove everything that is not permanently affixed and clean it well. Unless the deep litter method or sand are being used as coop litter, all of the bedding and nest box material should be replaced.
    Secure It: Autumn cleaning is a good time to re-assess the coop and run for breaches in security. Hardware cloth should be intact on windows and the run. Any hole bigger than 1/2 inch is a potential portal for predators and pests.
    Secure It: Autumn cleaning is a good time to re-assess the coop and run for breaches in security. Hardware cloth should be intact on windows and the run. Any hole bigger than 1/2 inch is a potential portal for predators and pests.
    Chicken wire should be replaced with hardware cloth.  Many predators can tear through chicken wire with ease.
    Winter Weaponry: Round up the shovels and prime the snow-blower before they are needed and keep them in a convenient location. 
    Round up the shovels and fire up the snow-blower before they are needed and keep them in a convenient location.
    Feed: A chicken will eat more in the winter than any other time of year to fuel its internal furnace. Make feed available to chickens during all waking hours. Check and refill feeders frequently. Don't stockpile feed because feed components lose their nutritional value as it sits. It can also get moldy or become rancid.
    A chicken will eat more in the winter than any other time of year to fuel its internal furnace. Check feeders more frequently than usual. Don't stockpile feed because feed components lose their nutritional value as it sits. It can also get moldy or become rancid.
    In inclement weather, chickens that cannot access areas they are accustomed to frequenting (either the run or pasture because they are snow-covered) will quickly get bored, which can lead to feather picking and cannibalism.
    Boredom
    In inclement weather, chickens that cannot access areas they are accustomed to frequenting (either the run or pasture because they are snow-covered) will quickly get bored, which can lead to feather picking and cannibalism.
     20+ boredom busters for backyard chickens
    Add Novelties:
    Add outdoor roosts, logs, stumps, flower pots full of potting soil and dust bathing areas. Give the birds a new playground that looks different from their fair-weather run. It'll help them stay out of each others' way and encourage exercise. Try not to rely upon snacks/treats/food for entertainment routinely. Cover the run with a roof so they can get out of the coop even in foul weather.
    Add outdoor roosts, logs, stumps, flower pots full of potting soil and dust bathing areas. Give the birds a new playground that looks different from their fair-weather run. It'll help them stay out of each others' way and encourage exercise. Try not to rely upon snacks/treats/food for entertainment routinely. Cover the run with a roof so they can get out of the coop even in foul weather.
    Provide entertainment occasionally in the form of pecking treats: Flock Block Substitute, scratch sprinkled on top of a pile of hay, a hanging head of cabbage or fresh greens.
    Provide entertainment occasionally in the form of pecking treats: Flock Block Substitute, scratch sprinkled on top of a pile of hay, sprouted grains,  alfalfa cakes, a hanging head of cabbage, cucumber, squash or fresh mustard greens. 
    Research demonstrates unequivocally that backyard chickens are dying from obesity-related complications, primarily Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome and heat stroke. Our pet chickens are sufficiently spoiled with treats year round and many are already fatter than they should be going into winter. Plying them with high fat or high energy treats such as suet blocks and cracked corn does them no favors.
    Our backyard pet chickens have fat reserves upon which to draw on cold nights; they are well fed, often over-fed. Treats and snacks should be provided in moderation, so as not to interfere with their daily nutritional requirements. Based upon my research, which was aided by Dr. Mike Petrick, DVM, MSc, a laying hen veterinarian, I do not believe that one should "fatten up" hens for winter or feed them suet or grease blocks as an energy source. Research demonstrates unequivocally that backyard chickens are dying from obesity-related complications, primarily Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome and heat stroke. Our pet chickens are sufficiently spoiled with treats year round and many are already fatter than they should be going into winter. Plying them with high fat or high energy treats such as suet blocks and cracked corn does them no favors. 
    *Save the suet blocks for the wild birds and save the pet chickens. *

    A little bit of scratch just prior to bedtime on the coldest nights is fine, more than that is unnecessary and hazardous to their health. Obesity is a far worse problem than boredom and too many treats over time is killing backyard chickens.
     Collecting eggs frequently is the best way to avoid frozen eggs in very cold temperatures. Insulating the nest boxes can help with heat loss in between collections. Visit my blog article for a unique twist on keeping eggs from freezing here.
    Egg Challenges
    Frozen eggs: Collecting eggs frequently is the best way to avoid frozen eggs in very cold temperatures. Insulating the nest boxes can help with heat loss in between collections. Visit my blog article for a unique twist on keeping eggs from freezing here.
    DIY Nest Box Cozy Prevents frozen eggs
    The main cause of dirty eggs in winter is mud; mud in the run gets tracked into the nest boxes on feet and feathers, making eggs dirty. Since washing eggs removes the bloom, the egg's natural protective coating, it is better to wash eggs immediately prior to use if necessary, therefore, keeping eggs clean at the source should be a priority.
    Dirty Eggs from a Muddy Feet: The main cause of dirty eggs in winter is mud; mud in the run gets tracked into the nest boxes on feet and feathers, making eggs dirty. Since washing eggs removes the bloom, the egg's natural protective coating, it is better to wash eggs immediately prior to use if necessary, therefore, keeping eggs clean at the source should be a priority.
    The main cause of dirty eggs in winter is mud; mud in the run gets tracked into the nest boxes on feet and feathers, making eggs dirty. Since washing eggs removes the bloom, the egg's natural protective coating, it is better to wash eggs immediately prior to use if necessary, therefore, keeping eggs clean at the source should be a priority.



  • Don't build new coops in low-lying, wet land, which will become muddy at the least bit of precipitation. Install drainage if necessary.
  • Cover the run with a roof to keep rain and snow out. (also fabulous for shade in the heat of summer
  • Use sand for run flooring. Among the many, wonderful benefits of sand is that it drains beautifully, eliminating the opportunity for water to puddle.
  • Sand on floor of the coop. Feet get cleaned enroute to the nest boxes (think chicken pedicure!).
  • Plastic on run walls, keep snow and rain from blowing in from the sides of the run.
  • Important Note: This article does NOT pertain to the management of baby chicks. Chicks require special care, which includes a SAFE heat source since they are physically unable to regulate their body temperatures. For more about baby chick care, click here.
    And finally, remember that spring is just around the corner!
    And finally, remember that spring is just around the corner!
    Sources available upon request.
    Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®

    256 comments :

    1. I guess I should be glad we live in Florida :)

      ReplyDelete
    2. Patricia Stowe11/21/13, 4:13 PM

      Great information! Thank you! :)

      ReplyDelete
    3. Jessica Christiansen Avila11/21/13, 4:15 PM

      Just was out in my coop filling waters again and laying new straw for them to play in ! Would love to win this!! I always enjoy your articles as well as getting friends to read them

      ReplyDelete
    4. Thank you for this blog, even though I live in Florida and our winters are someone mild, my peeps are not accustom to the occasional frigid air. This was so helpful. I have been guilty of putting the heating lamp in the coop and thank God that it did not start a fire. I will never do it again. They may all be in my garden tub in the house, but no heat lamps in the coop!

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    5. Deidra Benson Ozment11/21/13, 4:16 PM

      Sign me up!

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    6. Thanks for a terrific summary reference article. Perfect timing for folks to winterize their flocks!

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    7. I love your newsletter. I always learn so much. We are just now getting our first cold front so we will see how my girls get along. I think we are prepared.

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    8. Lindsay Williams Lang11/21/13, 4:18 PM

      Great info!

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    9. Jacqui Ainsworth11/21/13, 4:18 PM

      I live in Austin where mpst of the winter is in the 60s and 70s but we have occassional sudden drops to at or below freezing for a few days. Then back up to 75. Can they handle all of that fluctuation without assistance?

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    10. Maria Campbell11/21/13, 4:19 PM

      I have a light on a timer inside the coop which comes on at 4:30 every morning. I let them out at 6:30 to the run where the water is. If there is no water in the coop, will that two hours without water be determental to them? Currently, I have a two liter hanging in the coop with a nipple waterer on it but will remove it if it is harmful to them. Thanks for the giveaway. I subscribe in all the usual places

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    11. Cherry Blackwell11/21/13, 4:21 PM

      Great advice!

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    12. Kit Bridgette11/21/13, 4:22 PM

      Nice article esp for all those poor chooks in colder climates! We're hoping to hatch some Polish in spring, a brooder like this would be awesome!

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    13. Great blog post. :)

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    14. Susan Dietrich11/21/13, 4:23 PM

      I dig your blog. And I'd love to win! Winter is the challenge.

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    15. Excellent article!

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    16. Well written article with concise, pertinent information. Thank you for posting.

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    17. Love the idea of adding novelties and the info on ventilation will hepl me tremendously! I am also guilty of installing my chicken fountain inside the coop. I will be taking it out and employing the deep litter method this time around! Thanks!

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    18. Would LOVE to win a Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder!!

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    19. Tammy/Our Neck of the Woods11/21/13, 4:28 PM

      These are some really great tips! Thanks for the wonderful in-depth post. And please enter me in the giveaway for the EcoGlow! My email is tdbarani@yahoo.com. Thanks!

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    20. Tina Surdi Meeker11/21/13, 4:32 PM

      very good articul thank you!

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    21. Josephine Evatt11/21/13, 4:34 PM

      My chickens would walk right up to the door once the path was shoveled. Otherwise they wouldn't leave the coop

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    22. Allison Phillips11/21/13, 4:34 PM

      This was a good read up for me. This is my first winter with chickens hopefully it will be a good experince knowing all this now. Thanks!

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    23. Best information thanks!!!

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    24. Jenn Werner-Williams11/21/13, 4:37 PM

      Great article! Thanks again!!!

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    25. debbie plancarte11/21/13, 4:38 PM

      thank you that was very helpful

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    26. Kelly Kanedy Schwindt11/21/13, 4:39 PM

      Oh my! I would LOVE to win this!! I want to hatch some chickens for the first time! =) Thank you for the opportunity!

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    27. Love the well thought out and tried out suggestions in this post!

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    28. This is wonderful advice, thank you so much! We were just starting to figure out how to heat our coop, and you've given me a lot to think about. Thank you!!

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    29. Shelia Dawn Carter11/21/13, 4:44 PM

      Thank you for the winter tips. I would love to win the Brinsea Ecoglow Brooder. I need it for my chicks in the spring.

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    30. Such a timely article, right before the overnight temps drop to 10F in Chicago this weekend. We have a very small coop and 2 chickens. We have insulated a bit but I don't think the indoor temps are going to be much higher than outside. Eventually I found myself looking at the chicken sweaters online today. http://www.buzzfeed.com/babymantis/20-pictures-of-chickens-wearing-sweaters-1opu :)

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    31. Melissa Grover11/21/13, 4:46 PM

      Excellent and thorough info yet again Kathy! Love the stockings from feedbags in the pics, got my lil wheels spinning in several directions! :D

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    32. Charise Charly McOmber11/21/13, 4:46 PM

      love your tips. follow you every day

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    33. thank you for the info. I do worry about my peeps as snow is permanently on the horizon in my neck of the woods

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    34. This would be great to have! Love your blog as well as the information you offer. The pictures you take and post are pieces of art!

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    35. Love this!

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    36. My husband is retired from the Air Force and we are finally able to settle down in one place where I can get my chickens! We are moving to Indiana. I grew up raising chickens in California, so this post has really taught me a lot. Snow wasn't really an issue by the beach! :)

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    37. Thanks for the tips!

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    38. I have just built a new 8 x 6 coop with a vinyl floor and sand on that. Roosts are cover with a plastic tarp that can be cleaned with a cat liter scoop. The walls are covered in heavy plastic and empty feed bags stapled in place. The temp so far has stayed about 45 at night.They have big nest boxes with pine shavings in them and they stay very clean. I have a tap light that is battery operated and stays on for 6 hours then goes off. They have a nice big window to watch what goes on in the run when they are in the coop at night. We call it the chicken condo...lol

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    39. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 4:59 PM

      My pleasure. :)

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    40. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:00 PM

      No chance of retiring to a farm by the beach, is there? :D

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    41. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:00 PM

      Thank you Barb. :)

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    42. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:00 PM

      Thanks Charise!

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    43. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:01 PM

      LOL! Thanks Melissa.

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    44. I have 3 brooder lights I put in place on the outside of the coop against nothing but wire. My coop is an open coop about 18" off the ground and these are located under the coop. They do not come in contact with the hens or wood at any point. I will have old windows hung in place around the coop to cut the wind on the north/west sides but they also do not cover everywhere (allowing ventilation).Since I don't have free-range, these windows add heat as the sun rays pass thru. My coop is also set underneath the front wing of our shed so it actually has 2 roofs. You have to remember that my coop is only 4x10' and I only have 4 ladies. I've made it like a little Ft.Knox as far as the predators are concerned: buried wire, 1/4" wiring, pavers.... Can't think of anything else I need to do.....???? Suggestions welcomed.

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    45. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:01 PM

      Thanks Barbara.

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    46. Would love to win this and expand my flock...

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    47. i think im gonna get the construction plastic and put it on, r there heavy duty types, we get 60+mph winds here daily>

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    48. I just placed my order today for spring chicks, I could really use this brooder! :)

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    49. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:07 PM

      Thanks Tina. :)

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    50. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:08 PM

      Thanks Tammy. You're entered!

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    51. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:09 PM

      I'm happy to know you picked up a few things that will help you get through the winter, Corina!

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    52. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:09 PM

      Thanks Steph!

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    53. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:09 PM

      Thank you Lydia.

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    54. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:09 PM

      Thanks Susan. :)

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    55. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:09 PM

      Thanks Kay!

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    56. I want to win the new giveaway for the Brinsea Ecoglo brooder. Love the blog!

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    57. Loving all the winter tips! I think we'll be using some, such as covering the coop. May show the hubby the cookie tin heater too, what a great idea!

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    58. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:12 PM

      I would suggest putting a drip pan underneath the nipple waterer inside the coop for those two hours and then removing the waterer from the coop during the day. It will at least limit the amount of water dribbled into the bedding.

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    59. Such timely info--thanks for the chance to win a Brinsea EcoGlo Brooder!

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    60. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:15 PM

      Thanks Lisa. Good for you, I'm sure they'll do fine.

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    61. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:15 PM

      Thanks!

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    62. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:15 PM

      Thank you Pam!

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    63. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:16 PM

      That's really great to know.

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    64. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:16 PM

      I'm jealous!

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    65. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:16 PM

      Thanks Patricia!

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    66. Cindy Crager11/21/13, 5:16 PM

      These are great tips I would love to win the brooder!!!!

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    67. My husband would kill me if I bought any more baby chicks. Awww, he'll get over it!

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    68. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:18 PM

      LOL! Eventually. :)

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    69. I was worried about the cold and just about did away with all of the ventilation. Im going to fix that immediately! Thanks for the post!

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    70. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:18 PM

      Yes, there are various thicknesses, just check the big box hardware stores.

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    71. TheChickenChick11/21/13, 5:19 PM

      Thanks Linsey.

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    72. Lots of great info! Thanks!

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    73. Valerie Jensen11/21/13, 5:21 PM

      WE had our first snowfall last night. Some of the girls did NOT want to get their feet in it. The flew from the wagon to the chair to the stump and finally into the coop! It was comical to see.

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    74. Cold front with freezing rain will be here in Texas tonight. We winterized a few weeks ago. This was great info. Thank you.

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    75. Leigh Uemae-Valdivia11/21/13, 5:23 PM

      Another great article! I live in Hawaii so snow and cold isn't a problem, but the tips on proper ventilation and ways to decrease boredom are very helpful. As always, I love the beautiful pics! :)

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    76. Thank you! Sunny out today, will put up plastic when I get home from work.

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    77. Would love to win the brooder heater. Thanks for all the great tips for winter.

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    78. Thanks for posting. It is supposed to get in the teens on Sat. night and we have been going back and fourth about heating the coop. This info is definitely going to help make that decision.

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    79. We moved our hens into our new coop about 4 weeks ago. We had 'foster parents' keeping them for 3 months until it was built. They recently started laying (hiatus from the move, I'm sure). They laid an all time high for us on Tuesday - 9 eggs! Yay! In reading the winterizing process, I'm glad we have a roof and many of your recommendations implemented. I haven't done the sand yet, but hope to by spring. I think we'll all prefer it. The plastic wrapped run is something I hadn't considered, but think it'll probably be a good idea for where we live. Thanks so much for sharing your expertise - and goodies!

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    80. Donna Varbel Reece11/21/13, 5:35 PM

      Great information! Thank you!

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    81. Janelle Testa Bulan11/21/13, 5:39 PM

      as always your blogs are always helpful and informative!!!

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    82. Conservative Liberterian11/21/13, 5:45 PM

      Love your winter tips. I sure wish I could build a coop like yours. But it costs to much. I'm thinking about buying a portable building. One of those you rent to own and turning it into a coop of some sort. Maybe some day. Thanks for another chance to win another Brinsea Ecoglow Heater. That's something I could really use. I'm really tired of using heat lamps.

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    83. Deborah J Jackson11/21/13, 5:49 PM

      could sure use any of the gifts you give out. Just added 14 more chickens to our brood. Taking turns letting them out so they can meet eachother safely. Was wondering what your little black and white ones are? Sebrights?

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    84. Stephanie Brown11/21/13, 5:49 PM

      Thanks for the winter tips! Id love to win the drawing!

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    85. desertmtnalpacas11/21/13, 5:52 PM

      Great article. I don't get as cold as you do but it doesn't hurt to keep the chickens as comfortable as possible during the winter. I will be using some of these tips.

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    86. Sara Robinson11/21/13, 5:53 PM

      Enter me please : ) and thank you for the winter blog!!!

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    87. Thanks! The snow is on its way now here in CO.

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    88. Heather Mercier11/21/13, 6:12 PM

      Thanks for the great info!!!!

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    89. Great article with practical advice

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    90. this would be great as i am asking for an incubator for christmas

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    91. Excellent advice! Hoping to get our girls safely through the winter and hatch some chicks in the spring!

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    92. Some excellent tips that I can't wait to employ....I live in southcentral Alaska and it's brutally cold this week...it's been -15*F for three days...I agonize over the poor chickies :( They are insullated and out of the wind...are those tiny furnaces enough to keep them warm in these cold temps!?!?!?

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    93. This is my first winter day with chickens - they have refused to leave the coop all day. I tried serving them warm oatmeal with snap peas - they of course did not appreciate it :(

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    94. We are entering our first winter with our girls. I have already identified some things to do so that the winter will be less difficult for them; plastic around the coop to reduce drafts (On the windward sides only), poop board under their roosts, sand on the floors, and a wind break around the coop door to reduce moisture and winds from entering when it is open (we have a full sized door). I love your blog and think you are wonderful!!

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    95. Krista Atwater11/21/13, 6:34 PM

      i truly enjoy your site, you have some of the most helpful advice in one place, always a great read..

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    96. Meredith Skyer11/21/13, 6:46 PM

      What a great article, Kathy! "Chicken physiology is not the same as a person's" is going to have to be my motto this winter. I just feel so terribly bad for them when it gets super cold out. We're using the deep litter method for the first time this winter. I'm really hoping it helps to keep the coop warmer this year. We'll see! Thanks for all the great tips, as always! :)
      -Meredith
      ImaginAcres

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    97. Michelle Pettinato11/21/13, 6:48 PM

      Great Advice! Will be printing off and implementing a few ideas..
      especially the plastic lined wind breaker

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    98. Looks like a great system for raising baby chicks. Would love one please.

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    99. I need this. Baby chicks coming this spring. woohoo!

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    100. Shel Reitmajer11/21/13, 6:54 PM

      We have fertilized eggs coming soon. We have an incubator, but not a brooder. We have always used a heat light.

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    101. Ann Massarella Maxted11/21/13, 6:54 PM

      Great winter tips!

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    102. Thanks for this advice. Had a new coop built and I am insulating the lower part but I will leave the top uninsulated now. Thanks again.

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    103. Wonderful article! Even though we have been keeping chickens for the past 10 years, I learned a lot of new information from reading this! And I follow you via email and Bloglovin'. =)

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    104. Please enter me, thanks for all the info, some was very helpful, gotta get that plastic tarps soon, getting cold here in Ohio, thanks again.

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    105. Michelle Chun11/21/13, 7:25 PM

      Looking forward to spring when I can get a new batch of littles. Would love the brooder as I was a nervous wreck everyday the heat lamp was on.

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    106. I have raised chickens as pets for 34 yrs and I am STILL learning new things from this blog. Thank you!! It is so nice to know I am NOT the ONLY soul out here that is in-love with FeaTherS. I would LOVE to Win this!! Have never had one :)

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    107. Kathy, I use the cookie tin heater for our waterer, and will be needing to have it in the coop, only because there is no other dry place to put it. Because of this should I add heat to combat the moisture?

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    108. I have raised chickens as pets for 34 yrs and I am STILL learning new things from this blog. Thank you!! It is so nice to know I am NOT the ONLY soul out here that is in-love with FeaTherS. I would LOVE to Win this!! Have never had one :)

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    109. Never thought of the plastic on the runs! Great idea..think I will use it.

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    110. hannahking0011/21/13, 7:46 PM

      I would love a brooder!

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    111. Barbara Wright Fontaine11/21/13, 7:50 PM

      Great tips for our first winter with our girls.

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    112. Ok. A brooder would be great. Enter me please

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    113. I would love this prize since I want more chicks in the Spring

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    114. And this article was a great help in preparing for the cold, thank you

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    115. You have the best ideas!! I love all your pictures of chickens!! What kind of chickens are the chocolate brown ones with white flecks?

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    116. Denise Allison Magil11/21/13, 8:11 PM

      love to win construction plastic seems late to d it now

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    117. Michelle Hoyt11/21/13, 8:27 PM

      I haven't used anything to raise chicks other than a broody hen because that was all I have had, but this looks wonderful!

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    118. thank you so much for all these tips. I'm entering my first winter with my new chickens, learning as I go and doing my best to be up to par to keep my little backyard flock healthy and safe during these cold months. Thanks again :)

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    119. Great info. Plastic bought tonight, going up tomorrow. When my chickens see snow, they back up and go back in the coop.

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    120. nitanameidea11/21/13, 9:13 PM

      Thx for the tips! That brooder is on my "wish list" for next spring. I wouldn't mind getting it a little earlier than that :) ;)

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    121. Misty Svedberg11/21/13, 9:24 PM

      I am nervous about that heat lamp fire. I had some 2 month old silkies in my house and I had to get them out of here. I ended up putting them out in our shed out of the elements until they could get used to the temp out there, but the temps dropped drastically and are now in the 20's and teens the last few nights and no warmer then 37 in the day. That is a huge change from 70 in my house. So here I am a terrible chicken owner with the darn heat lamp out there in the shed so they don't get cold. now I am a little paranoid and feel like I should bring them back inside.

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    122. Kathy -Thank you for teaching me what I do not know and reminding me of the things I do! You are awesome.

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    123. Jaime Booker11/21/13, 9:30 PM

      thank u so much. this is gonna be my first winter with chickens and u just taught me a lot

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    124. OOH! I'd love to win this brooder! Thanks for another great giveaway!

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    125. Jodi Baldacci Hager11/21/13, 10:20 PM

      Thanks for the winter tips and thanks for the opportunity to win the brooder!

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    126. T Marie Kalisek11/21/13, 10:39 PM

      I love it thank you for all the GREAT information!!!

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    127. Annie Klein Douglas11/21/13, 10:43 PM

      Great tips! We are just finishing up our winter proofing.

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    128. Thanks for the great info. Appreciate the chance to win one of the great prizes!

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    129. Sharon Evak-Downing11/21/13, 10:53 PM

      Thank you for alleviating the fears of the winter for my feather babies :) Our first weather isn't so scary now. We also have 4 new little ones "due" on Dec. 9! Lavender Orpingtons. It will be nice to have our new babies in the house for Christmas!

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    130. Ashley Cardinal11/21/13, 11:04 PM

      Freezing weather in Washington. I've been using the replace the water frequently method but I believe I'm going to get a heated outside water bowl. Like they use for dogs. Turn it on only at night and shut back off in the morning.
      As for the plastic on the sides of the run, is one or two sides better than all sides? Won't covering all the sides make for unhappy chickens in their runs?

      (also hoping to be an entry into the giveaway)

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    131. Thank you for the extensive advice on wintering chickens. I have used a brooder light for the past couple of years, but am trying not to this year. My main concern is and has been a power outage as we are in the country with unreliable power. It just gets so cold here and I have been trying to make improvements, though I am not sure that we are quite there. We've been looking at a type of thermostat to simply keep the temps from dropping too low, we'll see. We'll also be expanding our flock in the spring and I have been wanting to try hatching a few chicks, I think that the kids would really enjoy watching this. So, thank you for the article and giveaway!

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    132. Had our first snow this morning - the girls didn't like it! I will have to get some of the plastic to cover their run!

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    133. A timely and informative article - thanks so much!

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    134. We are just finishing up our 10x10 coop and also have the high ceiling and open gabels. I was just telling hubby he needed to seal up the gables! He said no need too. He is gonna love it when I tell him "you were right I was wrong" :-)

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    135. I have a heat lamp but the walls to my new chicken coop have frost. I love all these tips but could you enlighten me on what to do about the coop having frost on the walls. Even the spider webs are frozen.
      Johanna (jojomo in Facebok)

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    136. Oh, and I would love to win something. :)

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    137. Looks like I have a lots of work ahead of me, building a roof over the run for one thing. Thanks so much for the info.

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    138. It's in the single digits here tonight. This post is exactly what I needed. Thanks! So cool that you're giving away an EcoGlow - it's on my Christmas list! :)

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    139. Laurie Matson11/22/13, 12:00 AM

      Thanks for all the Winter tips! I'd love to win the brooder!

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    140. Diana O'Brien11/22/13, 12:02 AM

      Thanks so much for this! I am new to keeping chickens and was wondering if I should put the water and feed inside the hen house since they wanted nothing to do with snow. I am now going to use plastic outside to keep the snow from blowing into the run. I wish I could come across some Solar Tubes at our Habitat ReStore..hens need vitamin D too, right? ;)

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    141. Katie Brown Stafford11/22/13, 1:21 AM

      I could really use the brooder. Thanks for the blog! Winter is a challenge in Alaska!

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    142. Do we have to put a roof on run, is it necessary? (Mine is huge!) What about pine pellets for bedding? Thanks!

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    143. Love the cookie tin! I have been looking for something safe and this fits the bill! Thanks!

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    144. Stephanie Serenity Steele11/22/13, 4:50 AM

      We just finished improving our hen house to help the girls stay safe this winter.

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    145. Thanks a bunch for the winter tips!

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    146. When my husband finally retired from AF the first things I got were chickens!! Waited 20+ years for those girls and LOVE them :)

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    147. Comprehensive and useful information. Thanks.

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    148. Meintc Goodies11/22/13, 7:43 AM

      Very informative! This will be my first winter with my chickens and I wasn't sure about their coop! But think I got it down. All but the water, that I'll start removing at night.

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    149. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 7:47 AM

      Thanks Kathy. :)

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    150. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 7:47 AM

      Awesome. :)

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    151. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 7:48 AM

      You bet!

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    152. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 7:48 AM

      I cannot fathom winter in Alaska.

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    153. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 7:50 AM

      LOL!

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    154. I have had success using a heated water bowl for dogs. It is inside the coop, but the coop is large and only 4 hens live there now. I have a pail to empty it out, a rag to wipe it and keep the refeill container in the house.

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    155. I always keep an eye on my chickens and especially in the winter. Heavy plastic for winterizing and don't forget to check the roofs for leakage. Thanks for an informative article

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    156. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:06 AM

      Why would they be unhappy in a covered run?

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    157. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:11 AM

      Thanks Amy!

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    158. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:11 AM

      Do whatever you have to to, Misty.

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    159. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:12 AM

      Books?

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    160. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:12 AM

      Let me know how it goes, Rita.

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    161. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:13 AM

      Thanks Sharron!

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    162. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:14 AM

      Thanks Susan. I believe your'e referring to a Speckled Sussex.

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    163. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:14 AM

      It's never too late to keep the elements out of the run.

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    164. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:15 AM

      Thank you!

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    165. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:16 AM

      Thanks Meredith!

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    166. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:16 AM

      Thank you Krista!

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    167. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:17 AM

      Thanks Debi!

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    168. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:18 AM

      Which breeds do you have, how old are they, what does the thermometer say inside the coop, how much ventilation do you have...?

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    169. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:19 AM

      Thank you Margaret. ♥

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    170. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:19 AM

      Silver Spangled Hamburgs

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    171. TheChickenChick11/22/13, 9:20 AM

      Thanks Leigh. Aloha!

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    172. Melanie Jensen Schatz-Pattay11/22/13, 9:31 AM

      We had a couple losses last winter. This year we've added another 20 sq feet of coop with around 18 feet of additional roosts. I'm hoping this will help the girls stay happy with each other.

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    173. Misty Svedberg11/22/13, 10:15 AM

      i will be doing the same with the plastic. I just know they hate it when the rain blows in. nothing like getting your feet wet on an already cold day.

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    174. Cindy Jack Beard Jr.11/22/13, 10:51 AM

      I Love your input and your information is so helpful ! Thanks for doing what you do.

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    175. Love your no-nonsense approach to writing. I got my first flock last spring and your website has been a wonderful resource-I subscribe through Feedly. I would love the brooder-- I'm already deciding what kind of chicks I want to get this spring...

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    176. Anna @ Backyard Chicken Lady11/22/13, 12:06 PM

      Perfect timing on these tips as I am working in my run today to get it ready for our first winter together! I knew some of this but still learned a few things as always. Thank you Kathy!

      I would love to win this weeks prize. I am subscribed, follow, like, etc. wouldn't miss a post...sometimes have to save several for one day but I do read them all.

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    177. Jamie Boyer Musall11/22/13, 12:06 PM

      This would be an eggcellent addition to our first time chicken coop and raising chickens

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    178. Denise Allison Magil11/22/13, 12:08 PM

      okay well ill see about plastic dont know about covering its really high !!! with net over it

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    179. Denise Allison Magil11/22/13, 12:09 PM

      wouuld love to win as always

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    180. sure would love to win the brooder heater

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    181. Richard Van Driesche11/22/13, 12:27 PM

      Love this post! I am making my first "Cookie tin water heater" tonight ...love the idea! That EcoGlow brooder looks mighty fine! Thanks again!

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    182. Allison Darlene Nelson11/22/13, 12:27 PM

      I just love reading your post. Would also LOVE to win something. I have plastic on 2 sides of my run and the inside I may need to do a little more work. Gotta get busy since it is going down to the teens tomorrow night.

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    183. Susan Pearlman11/22/13, 12:39 PM

      Thanks for all the winter tips. I'm in Michigan and this will be my first winter with the girls!

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    184. Andrea Manuszak11/22/13, 12:41 PM

      I am happy to here I am doing most of this right. I did put a heat lamp in last night just because of my Broody Silkie and her one chic were not even leaving the nest to drink water. I turned it off this morning and I will find a different heat source today for just their little corner of the coop. I would love to win the incubator for my kids school!

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    185. Laurel McGilvery11/22/13, 12:48 PM

      Get at least 6ml plastic. Holds up to winds and inquisitive beaks better. My biggest problem is keeping their water above freezing. Think I'm going to have to invest in a heater base this winter.

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    186. What do you do if you only have 2 hens and they cannot stand to be in the same place together? I have a small double decker coup and each girl has her own level. If I put them together, they fight. I tried do it at night and every other way possible. Can a single bird make enough heat to stay comfortable? What I do now is to put on a regular light on the nights it is cold enough for their water to freeze. Is this ok? Thanks and love the pictures of your birds!

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    187. Me, too--- I like the idea of minimizing drafts with plastic covered runs.

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    188. Melodie Smith11/22/13, 1:04 PM

      Great advice about the winter with chickens as this is our first year.. We have a chicken tractor with a very small run so all of this is very helpful. WOuld love to win the brooder as we will be adding a few chicks in the spring.

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    189. Joyce Zaleski11/22/13, 1:36 PM

      Another great giveaway and great information. Thanks once again.

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    190. Lisa Dowdy Lampman11/22/13, 1:44 PM

      We have covered our run and it is amazing how much nicer it is in there rather than outside! If only the darn wind would stop wiping so strongly so the plastic will STAY on the run! LOL Need to add more furring strips this weekend! I can't wait until we can use sand - my poor girls always seem to find mud to play in! Such dirty birdies!!

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    191. Great information for poultry health, winterizing, bedding, and other information even for Seasoned Poultry lovers. Thank you for always researching and adding new information to your blog. We also appreciate the opportunity to enter a giveaway...our baby peeps' would love, love, love a new very safe, heat source for proper health and growth.
      Marcus
      Paws' and Peeps' Mini Farm
      Clayton, NC. (NPIP # 55-1200)

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    192. I LOVE you mentioned the hanging a cabbage trick! That's my flocks winter fav!!!

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    193. Thank for the information! I am going to go make a cookie tin warmer right now!! Love it! I shared your blog on pinterest and facebook. Please enter me in the ecoglow giveaway! It would be a good christmas present! :))

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    194. great tips!

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    195. Tina Wahl Gosnell11/22/13, 2:41 PM

      I would love to win this brooder!

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    196. Thanks for the great info!

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    197. No extra heat for my girls...love the boredom buster idea!

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