Theresa McCuaig's Urban Permaculture News
Christmas is only an enticing time of year for humans. Ed Bruske of nearby Upstate New York portrayed his pitiful chickens for Garden Rant:
The solution is keeping cold-adapted breeds in an enclosed shed for the winter, and using the deep litter method (DLM).
BEST BREEDS: Silkie, Chantecler, Ameraucana, Dominique, Icelandic, Russian Orloff, Wyandotte, and Norwegian Jaerhone chickens are adapted to cold climates. Expect frostbite and mortalities in Hamilton’s Climate Zone 6 if you choose a Mediterranean breed, such as Minorca or Leghorn chickens.
SHED: Each chicken requires 4 square feet of floor space to prevent fighting. Adequate ventilation is essential, so allow one extra foot of empty floor space around every 10 square feet of shed floor for the air to circulate freely. Allow 1 foot of space between perches. Affix the perches 18 inches from the wall and 2 feet from the roof to allow the birds to turn around comfortably. Provide at least one 12 inch X 12 inch nesting box for every three hens. Make an outdoor run beneath or beside the shed. Mount the shed on posts to use it as a roof for the outdoor run. Fence off 10 square feet of ground per chicken with chicken wire strung on posts. If the run is beside the shed, provide a covering to prevent hawk attacks.
LITTER: Place at least 4 inches of wood shavings or other absorbent, biodegradable litter on the shed’s floor. Aspen is preferable to pine; the latter contains volatile oils that can harm small animals’ lungs. Sprinkle food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) over the litter to control insect pests and help dehydrate the guano. Mix the DE throughout the litter. Keep adding enough fresh litter every week to cover all the old litter. The litter will begin to compost, thereby heating the coop for free. At a minimum, add two inches of fresh litter to the coop every month. If the girls are not doing an adequate job of mixing the litter, help out with a rake. DLM only requires mucking out in the spring, or when the litter becomes too wet, or when an infestation occurs, or when it smells foul. Generally, DLM cuts down the frequency of mucking out to twice per year. DLM makes excellent garden compost.
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