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Hay Bale Chicken Coop in Vermont WinterPage 1 - Chicken Coop South Side
Winter 2002/2003 - Hay bale chicken coop and brooder in the kitchen atrium. The coop is layed in a rectangle of hay bales like bricks. The second course is offset half a bale. Stakes were then driven down through the bales into the ground and a scrap of plywood was used to cover it to make a roof. Loose hay was piled on top. The snows cover it making it into a cozy igloo (you can see the snow depth over in the left corner and along the roof line.) In a warmer climate you would want to have some type of cover to keep off the rain and mold could be a problem. In our cold climate from November to April this isn't an issue. The bedding inside is added to each week (hay) and allowed to build up. This makes a nice compost of hay and chicken poops that stays warm. Good ventilation is important - there is no door, it is just open to the south east. Our wind comes from the northwest, the back of the chicken house and this keeps the wind off of the birds which is important. No additional heat was needed even when it gets down to -40F for weeks at a time. The birds layed right through the winter at about 0.6 to 0.8 eggs per day per bird without additional lighting. Note that the chick brooder did have a heat lamp in it and a drape when the November chicks were young for about the first five or six weeks. After that they integrated with the adult hens. Ducks and chickens were both kept together here. Vissible here are Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks.
Note: 2004-01-14 it was -22F this morning but inside the chicken coop it was toasty warm, warmer than in our house and inside the hay bale animal shed it was also very cozy with water vapor rising up from the bedding pack. Pigs seemed quite happy despite the cold.
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Walter Vose Jeffries,
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