The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Winter flock

Happy winter chickens

Winter is one of the toughest times to keep your hens healthy, but entries in our chicken photo contest prove it can be done well.

You've got until the end of the week to enter, and anyone can vote on their favorite entry on the blog or on facebook.

What are your chickens doing during this cold winter?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I live about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis,MN and it has been a hard winter on my hens. We had about 3 weeks in December where we were at 0 degrees or as low as -50 F with windchill. We started the winter with 11 hens but we lost one about 3 weeks ago. I'm not sure why she died but she was one of the oldest hens we had. The coop is wood and is insulated. For heat we are just using an elevated heat lamp, and a heated waterer.

We've had a few days in the mid 30s and I took the opportunity to clean up their quarters. The area we have them laying boxes, roosts, and food and water during the winter months is about 5X7. It felt good to clean it and put some new pine shavings down. Also took the opportunity while they were in their run to preemptively treat them for mites (powder). If I found it rewarding they definitely did! Thank goodness for them we are forecasted to have a couple weeks in the 30s.

Just found your blog and I love it. We are just getting into hobby farming and it has been thrilling to read your past posts to read about successes/less than successful things you've done.

Comment by Dave Mon Jan 13 18:13:56 2014

If you have a Wood Stove, Fireplace, or just a BBQ Pit you can give the Chickens the wood ashes and they simply love to give themselves a dust bath. This alone will take care of any mites. No need to spend money on powdered chemicals.


Comment by Edith Mon Jan 13 20:24:44 2014

Wow, I wish our chickens were as happy as these lucky chickens this winter!

For this year, their winter-home has been inside the barn with only a small window and lamp for heat and light. I feel bad for them every day I go out to see them, and try to bring them extra food scraps whenever I can. I can tell they're beginning to feel a bit... cooped up. By this time next year, I hope we'll have finished the greenhouse/winter chicken coop we're planning. Too bad we didn't get to it this year or I'd enter your contest!

I can definitely sympathize, Dave. Very much ready for warmer weather just like my flock!

Comment by Roberta Mon Jan 13 20:48:25 2014

Those are some nice looking chicken palaces! We have been colder than usual this winter, and my poor rooster, Wendell, has some frostbite on his comb, in spite of an insulated coop filled with deep bedding.. It will be shorter come spring I think. I try to give them extra fat and protein in the winter. Recently i discovered they REALLY love coconut. Who knew? But it has lots of fat, which should be good for theM. I hadnt heard of using wood ashes for a dustbath - thanks for the tip!

Comment by Deb Tue Jan 14 02:14:09 2014

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