Guest Post: Chicken Farming in the Winter is for the Birds

It has nothing to do with the chickens but more an attitude I have since I hate going out in the cold. It never used to bother me till I started getting old.

Fortunately here in NC we have many nights it gets down to near or below freezing but the daytime always warms things up to the mid-40s and above. So frozen eggs aren’t a worry as long as I check right before the little buggers hit the roost for the night. It seems that in the winter they are in the roost as soon as the sun is hitting the horizon or even a little before that. In the summer they stay outside till its well on to getting dark out. In the morning is where I notice the biggest change. I hear the rooster crowing inside the coop around daybreak but no one makes an appearance outside till 9 or so. They sure like to sleep in.

The side area of the chicken pen has two compost bins I built in but I’ve gone ahead and made the whole area a temporary compost bin. In the morning I throw a cup of chicken scratch in the leaves and it keeps them busy and warm hunting around in the leaves for it. In the evening if I have kitchen scraps from the previous day I throw that in the same area.

The rooster is getting meaner and meaner. I guess if I was cooped up all the time with 6 females I would too. For the women just imagine being locked in your significant others man cave with 5 of his buddies 24./7. My wife will enter my man cave to borrow the computer once in a great while but not even the cat will come in here.

I have noticed that in the summer the hens tend to spread out on two different roosting poles but in the winter they are all on the same pole, even the girls who don’t like each other very much don’t seem to have a problem with that.

We are down to only the Plymouth Rocks laying now. I get 1 to 2 eggs from them a day. The rest have forgotten how to lay an egg. I have seen a couple of the non-layers in the nesting boxes in the mornings but I think it’s to keep warm more than anything else.

One of the Plymouth Rocks got loose the other day when I was in the pen changing the water. I went outside and just walked up to her and said in a loud voice “get back in that pen” and sure enough she ran back around the corner and through the door. Another time I was in the pen, down on one knee and running a cat pooper scupper through the sand. Well one of the Plymouth Rocks jumped up on my knee that was in the air to watch what I was doing. I just looked at her like she was nuts and she pooped on my knee. Never do that again, didn’t know they where so sensitive.

I’ve been talking with Julie about being a self-sufficient chicken farmer. How to feed the things when going and purchasing chicken feed isn’t possible. I’m letting her do all the hard work as she experiments with the grubs.

Getting greens around here in the winter is not a problem since Chickweed is so prevalent in my yard. Chickweed starts growing in the fall and grows all winter to die off in the heat of the summer. It’s easy to pull up handfuls of the stuff and throw it in the pen twice a day. They love the stuff even better than the kudzu they get in the summertime.

Well I’ve bored you enough for now. Stop back in a month or so and I’ll do it again for you.


Dan Shaw, chicken farmer and entrepreneur.

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5 Responses to Guest Post: Chicken Farming in the Winter is for the Birds

  1. Dan sounds like a genuine chicken farmer to me ! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  2. Julie Helms says:

    That rooster’s gonna need to go… I’ve got one for you in my young brood!

  3. glorylennon says:

    The chickens have obviously gotten used to Dan. That’s good except when they poop on you, I suppose. Good with the bad. 🙂

  4. Dan says:

    Raymond I sure wish the chickens would think that…
    Glory there is nothing worse than chicken poop, it’s not a little bit of poop like from a House Wren. It’s more like a dozen pigeons decided to poop in that same spot…
    Julie I agree, the old coot has got to go but we haven’t purchased our axe yet nor a pot big enough to scald it. I guess we got our work cut out for us but it’s gotten get done sometime.

  5. Chicken poop is one of the richest high-nitrogen fertilizers there is, but needs to be composted with sawdust and aged a bit before it goes on the garden, but that -makes it easier to handle too. “Rubber boots help”. “:)

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