The ladies are spending a great deal of time in the coop since the weather has turned very cold and blustery, and I don;t blame them. When the weather gets like this the only thing I want to do is stay inside, load up the wood stove and tackle some pressing chores like book reading or hot chocolate sipping.
They must have their own little rituals and ways of passing the cold, snowy days. I am guessing it revolves around eating, roosting and pecking at the nice flock block that I gave them for Christmas.
To keep the ladies warm, we use the deep bedding method and place extra bales of straw around the inside of the coop, against the exterior walls, to block any drafts. I also keep a thermometer in the coop and watch the temperature. It has never gotten below 30 degrees and the ladies all seem to be fine. Any lower and i might get out the heat lamp and hang it about 5 feet up. I would want them to get some warmth, but not so much that when I turn the light off, that the temperature change would be too drastic. The deep bed method works great to preserve heat, and it creates wonderful compost. It is however, a little smelly. And poop does to photograph well.
I do have to say, before I go any further, that unless you are Martha Stewart, any pictures taken inside of a chicken coop are not going to be pretty.
They have, with the few exceptions, all filled out nicely and have their winter weight on full display. The few that are still looking a little scrawny are either molting, or it is just Hildred - the chicken that has always been and will always be the smallest, oddly looking chicken in the bunch. But she has personality....
The two newest ladies have both been doing rather well, given that one of them is the lowest one in the pecking order. They are Rhode Island Reds and their color is really beautiful as you can see with the picture below. She is the dark one on the right and she has grown from a small, awkward bird into a large, sleek lady.
I do have to think that one of their highlights of the cold winter days is when I visit the coop with fresh water and treats after dinner. They usually get a mix of whatever was left over from dinner, mixed up with some bread scraps and any vegetable peelings. It is quite a show when i flick on the light and open the coop door - chickens literally flying off the roosting perches to see what I am offering that night.
Craziness sets in with the flight to get the good stuff - bread scraps are the most popular, followed closely by leftover rice and beans. Apple peels and stale crackers are ok, but I think they reserve those for those lower in the pecking order.
The craziness ensues when I drop the treats, as demonstrated by one of the ladies giving me the "stay away from my bread" eye.
One of my Golden Comets eating her bread as fast as possible, hiding from the others, then going back for more as if she we just happening upon the scene. "Oh, there is bread here? Well, I was so busy laying an egg that I didn't even notice!"
Even the scrappy little moulter gets a few - she knows that if she hangs out on top of teh nest boxes, I will hold the bowl up to her before I dump it out. That way she gets first pick of the scraps.