I think I am going to spoil my chickens. Why not.
They’ve just been shipped across the country (from Iowa) as young, barely feathered hens, they have nice coop, but we’re having a bitter November cold snap here in New England. Its 25*F and windy as can be. I know experienced chicken keepers tell me they don’t need extra heat, but it seems a bit of spoiling may be OK for their transition. I’m running an incandecsant bulb (40 watt) for the chickens so they have about 15 hours of light (about 6 am to 9 pm) to encourage winter egg laying. This adds some heat. But I’d like to add a bit more heat to the coop. I’ve tried putting a tarp over the coop to break this wind and contain warmth, but the humidity went WAY up, so NO tarp. (I have a nice little remote thermometer and humidity meter that I like for monitoring the girls’ situation.) They seem to like the red heat lamp that I have been using a couple hours now and them. I’ve ordered a ceramic 100 watt heater that should arrive soon that I think may be nicer. I think I will use continue to use the heat lamp (red or ceramic) below about 30*F for a couple hours in the evening until they are bigger and start laying.
The hens have been spending the nights together huddled in a nest box or on the coop floor. I think if they were warm enough they be on the nice roosting bar.
They have been eating very well. They have free access to pellets. I give them an ear of corn and a few leaves of lettuce every day. Occasional raisins, cottage cheese, even some earthworms I find for them. After three days in their run on nice grass, they’ve eaten the all the grass and sctatched up all the worms. Yesterday, I let them forage in the yard for an hour. They loved it. After an hour, they wandered back into their coop and settled down to rest. I opened their door today but it wa so cold and windy they didn’t want to go out.