Dec 24, 2012

AcCOOPtrements

The chickens have been settling into their coop for a couple of weeks now. Wynona continues to be the only one laying eggs so far; the two Cochins, Poppy and Raveena, are taking a little longer to get in their egg groove. 

Poppy blends in with the straw and wood.
December temperatures have been all over the place this year, ranging from 30 F to -14 F, with most nights and some days in the below zero (F) temperature range. I've been experimenting with their lighting (which is probably not helping the Cochins with their egg laying) using either an infrared heat lamp when it's really cold or a white light when it's 5 degrees F or warmer.

In an attempt to finally provide the girls with some consistency, this weekend I installed a two light system: LED white light on a timer for 14 hours a day (regardless of outdoor temperatures) and a 150 watt infrared heat lamp that can be manually plugged in when the temperatures fall below 25 degrees F. To secure the two lamps in place I installed eye bolts and attached the lamps using small carabiners, eliminating the chance that they can be knocked down and into the straw.


I added a couple of additional weather upgrades, including a wide strip of reflectix along the top of both fold-down doors. Foam weather stripping wasn't quite thick enough to cover the top seam of the door, although it worked well along the left and right door seams.


One of the more vexing design flaws of my coop has been that I didn't install a retainer for the thick mat of straw on the floor of the coop. Little nuggets of frozen chicken poo roll out (disguised in bundles of straw) and jam themselves into the hinges as I close the door. To fix the problem I screwed in a couple of pieces of scrap board as a temporary retaining wall until it warms up a bit (from -5 F), and later I'll cut a piece that fits the space correctly.


 I hope the girls are happy with these small upgrades to their cozy coop. Maybe the Cochins won't want to lay until summer, or maybe they'll surprise me one of these days with an extra egg or two in the nesting box. Either way, I enjoy starting every morning and ending every evening with a visit to their coop.

Wynona roots around for hidden tasty treats.
 
This blog post is linked to the Clever Chick's Blog Hop #14 
and Tilly's Nest Blog Hop #17


5 comments:

  1. Hey Mo, love the cold weather plans...in case you didn't know there is something called a thermo-cube: http://www.apelectric.com/TC-1-Thermo-Cube-Plug-in-Thermostat-15A-p/tc1.htm
    that automatically goes on and off with a chosen temperature variance outside...the link is just an example but I think they may have different temp ranges...just a suggestion for your heat lamp...I haven't used one but I have seen that others with chickens use them for this exact purpose....might help with peace of mind...

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  2. I have a thermocube for my coop Mo. They work great just have to have the plug in the coop for it to work. They have them at Home Depot or you can order one online. Comes on at 35 turns off at 45. And the only worry I would have about sealing up the coop too tight is all the ammonia from the chicken poop.

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  3. hi. i'm following the "down home" blog hop. i would love for you to visit my blog and follow if you like it.

    http://www.blackinkpaperie.blogspot.com

    thanks
    new follower bev

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  4. Thank you for linking up with the Clever Chicks this week; I think your girls should be all set for winter now. :)

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick
    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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  5. Thanks for all the great feedback, fellow chicken lovers. I think there is a thermocube in the coop's future...maybe for the water heater, maybe the heat lamp, or both?

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