As an Omlet Ambassador I’ve heard that line hundreds of times at trade shows and expo halls all across the United States. However, as a former DIY luxury chicken coop builder and longtime Omlet Coop owner I would like to set the record straight and explain why on Omlet Coop is the best purchase a backyard chicken tender can make.
This was my pride and joy:
A luxury coop that is Pinterest worthy and constructed of the best materials I could get my hands on. It has a radiant barrier roof that I shingled! It has a skylight in the middle that is UV blocking and tinted so as to only protect against the harsh and hot Texas sun. We used metal bracing on every corner to make sure we were squared up and secure. There are hundreds of screws holding up the double layer of hardware cloth. Literally, hundreds of screws. I used pressure treated wood that was rated for ground contact and further sealed with deck sealant. I used fiber cement siding that was rated to withstand hail impact and wind thrown objects. No expense was spared in building the Fort Knox of chicken coops that I thought would last a lifetime. I even ordered special chicken shaped handles for the coop doors:
Why is an Omlet Coop a better buy than building a DIY coop?
Experience should not be underestimated when lives are on the line
Omlet was founded in 2003 and has been innovating since. That is over 16 years of experience in building chicken coops. That is 16 years of predicting and preventing predators from getting chicken dinners. The average DIY’er that I meet at trade shows or talk to on forums such as BackYardChickens.com is a first-time chicken owner who hasn’t witnessed the creativity and determination of predator animals such as raccoons, foxes, and even neighborhood dogs.
Included in the price of each and every Omlet coop is 16 years of research and development to give us chicken tenders the best possible home for our flocks. That is 16 years of perfecting the Omlet Coops that get delivered to front doors all across the World. I cannot emphasize this enough because it is the most important factor in why I chose Omlet over DIY’ing another coop. It is not 16 years of making the same old coop over and over again like you’ll find at Tractor Supply or the local hardware/feed store. It is 16 years of constant innovation and stalwart dedication to making the safest coop on the market. While you read the rest of this please ask yourself whether you think a few google searches, a Facebook group, or in my case a Pinterest post can compete with 16 years of on the ground experience with thousands of models sold and tested across not just the US but the world at large. Think about the chickens you will soon be bringing home to live in the coop. Do you trust their lives to a weekend DIY project? Also, if you have kids and they are involved with the chickens then please consider the trauma of them waking up some day to find that a raccoon has turned their favorite hens into a recreation of a CSI episode with a headless hen as the victim. The cost may be steeper up front, but I can personally assure you that it will be more than worth it in the end for the peace of mind, the portability, the cleanliness, and so many other reasons.
DIY may seem like the cheaper route but I can assure you that the first time you wake up to find your favorite hens dismembered by a racoon or de-feathered and half eaten by a fox the last thing on your mind will be how you saved a couple bucks here and there. Why go through the heartbreak of losing hens and then spend the next couple days having to drain your wallet to renovate and repair the coop? Also, once a predator gets into your coop once they will keep coming back for more. They will poke, pull, and attempt to gain access in any way possible since they now know that an all you can eat chicken dinner is just inside. Why not stop them the first time so they never even consider coming back?
The most commonly encountered coops on the internet are constructed of wood. Wood can either be treated or untreated. Treated wood is wood that has been infused with copper products under extreme pressure in order to give it a few extra years of protection against Mother Nature.
However, treated wood does not protect against the ammonia rich droppings left behind by fluffy chicken butts. Chickens do not urinate and defecate separately like us humans do. Instead they combine the two acts and their droppings are highly concentrated and highly corrosive to many materials. This results in an accelerated rate of decay and decomposition of any and all wooden components of a DIY coop. This is a hugely important point to consider because decaying wood is similar to rotten wood in that it is incredibly fragile, and fragility is not something any chicken owner wants when it comes to their coop. The only way to circumvent this is to be diligent in replacing decaying panels as soon as you notice the first signs of decay. Mind you, this requires purchasing more materials, expending more of your time performing the labor to remove the decaying parts and reinstalling the new parts, and adds undue stress to your flock as you tinker with their home.
Of note, there are various sealants and paints that can be used on both treated and untreated wood, but my firsthand experience showed that these only served to prolong the inevitable as they too decayed. Furthermore, I would caution against their use as they can become a health hazard for your flock. Chickens will eat just about anything they can fit into their beaks so as the paint and sealant begin to crack, chip, and flake off the chickens will pick at the cracking paint or sealant and will quickly eat any flakes they can knock off or catch on the ground. I am not a veterinarian, but it certainly doesn’t take one to warn against the well-known dangers of ingesting paint.
Omlet coops are made out of a high-density plastic polymers that are non-porous and designed to be durable against both Mother Nature and any mother hen. The corrosive droppings from your chickens do not affect the durability of the Omlet coop and will not cause it to degrade or deteriorate with wood. It will stay strong for decades or more without any need to repair, replace or renovate.
Chicken wire, I would like to just say to stay as far away from this as possible because every week I hear from people who used chicken wire only to discover their coops broken into and flock decimated. Chicken wire is good at containing chickens but is absolutely worthless for keeping predators out. Raccoons can reach their hands through it and can pull it apart in under an hour. Coyotes, foxes and neighborhood dogs can easily bite and pull it apart. Snakes slither right on in without trouble.
The other wire that people commonly use is hardware cloth. This is what I used when I first built my own coop and it does work for a while. However, over time it will sag, and it is not meant to bear weight well. It can prevent predators most predators for a while but it is far from impenetrable and without proper installation and constant checks it can easily fail and need replacing.
The run components are made from welded steel panels. I could go further into detail about these, but I think the picture below is worth a thousand words:
It was a sad day when I had to leave behind the Pinterest quality barn-inspired coop because we sold the house and couldn’t haul off the coop without hiring a forklift and crew to load it onto a flatbed.
Thankfully, that will never happen with Omlet Coops. They are portable when fully assembled and they are also so easy to disassemble and flat pack that I can now fit our multiple coops and run attachments into the bed of my pickup truck with ease. In fact, I had to do just that when we moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Austin, Texas.
Modular and Expandable with ease
One of the hardest parts about designing and building a DIY coop is that you have to know how many chickens you want from the start. That may seem like an innocuous task but there is a phenomenon known to chicken owners as “chicken math.” It is something I have encountered first hand and been a victim of. In what started with 3 chickens has now since expanded to 31 chickens and counting. Our barn inspired chicken coop was meant to house 5-6 hens at a time and any sort of expansion would be extremely costly and require cutting into, and compromising the structural integrity of the original coop to attach any expansions on it.
Our Omlet coop expanded with us and we are already saving up for another full-size WALK-IN-RUN to add. Attaching any sort of expansion or add on is literally a 10-minute job. Due to the modular structure of the Coop and the Walk-in-Run all that has to be done is clip on the new expansions to the existing ones.
The total cost of the Pinterest coop that I build was around $1600. It fit 5 chickens comfortably and held up for just short of 2 years before we started to have to replace parts and deal with decay.
Chicken coops from Tractor Supply range from $250 to over $1,000. However, most of these have wooden components that will break down and need replacing so you will have to throw money at it regularly to keep it functional.
There are a handful of plastic polymer options at TSC but none of them allow for attaching a run, or any sort of modular upgrades that will allow you to grow your flock or custom tailor your coop to your yard. Therefore, you will end up spending well over the cost of an Omlet coop for something that is not designed to fit together and is not as adaptable and flexible as a product from Omlet’s ecosystem.
Peace of mind knowing all of the “What if’s” have been accounted for.
As stated above, Omlet has more experience in this field than any DIY’er. They have answered all of the if, and, buts, and what ifs with first hand experience. The peace of mind that comes with being able to purchase an all in one coop that will last for decades, keep the flock safe, and be adaptable to your future needs is worth more than saving a few bucks by risking all of that.
Using a steam cleaner to clean any Eglu can be a very effective way. It will not affect the plastic, whereas all surfaces are cleaned, disinfected, and all killed mites, insects and dust are blown away by the power of the steam. As a bonus the surfaces will be dry in no time, because the plastic is warmed up.
Deep-cleaning an Eglu Go once or twice a year is extra easy if one follows these steps:
1. Take of the top panel (lid)
2. Unscrew both side panels and bumpers, and take these off as well. For a complete cleaning you may want to disconnect the run as well.
3. You now have access to all inner and outer surfaces. Clean them thoroughly with the steam cleaner, if required using an old dish brush as well.
4. Clean the bumpers, panels and top lid in the same way.
5. Re-assemble the run and the coop.
This cleaning method has been used for several years now by our Dutch team-member and is guaranteed to keep your Eglu in top condition, without damaging any parts!
If you’re a first time chicken keeper getting started this spring, you will likely be wondering what exactly you need to take care of your new pets. Some things will depend on your garden and how many chickens you will be getting, and others are a standard essential for all chicken keepers. We’ve put together this handy guide for everything you need, plus there is a checklist at the end for you to use when shopping.
First things first – housing. Your choice here will mainly depend on the number of chickens you plan on getting. At Omlet, we recommend a plastic chicken coop to reduce the risk of red mite infestation and to keep your girls completely weather protected. The traditional wooden chicken coop may look nice but they are harder to maintain, keep waterproof and red mite free.
Our Eglu chicken coops not only look great (available in purple or green), but they are also completely weatherproof, twin-wall insulated, and super easy to clean, making it virtually impossible for red mites to survive.
The Eglu Go Chicken Coop and Go UP Chicken Coop are a good starting point if you are only planning on getting 2 to 4 chickens. The house is the same, with a pull out droppings tray, nesting area, roosting bars and easy open back door, the only difference is that the Go UP comes on a stand with a ladder up to the coop, making the run taller, giving more space for hentertainment and allowing your chickens to roost off the ground.
The Eglu Cube Chicken Coop is our largest coop. It is suitable for up to 10 smaller bantam breeds such as Pekins, 6-8 medium sized hens like the Rhode Island Red or 4-5 large breeds like the majestic Cochin. The Cube also has a back door and pull out droppings tray, plus a side egg port for you to easily collect your eggs from the nest box (which is big enough for 3 chickens to lay at once).
The Eglus are available with a fox resistant chicken run made from strong steel weld mesh, impossible for predators to break. A unique anti-tunnel skirt sits flat on the ground and prevents animals from digging in. Choose your run length based on how many chickens you will be getting and how often you will be able to let your chickens free range. If you start with a smaller run to begin with and realise later on your chickens need more space, we have chicken run extensions available, or you may want to consider a larger Walk in Chicken Run to give your chickens lots of space and make it easier for you to spend time with them and look after them.
A number of accessories are also available for your Eglu run including wheels and run handles to make it quick and easy for one person to move the coop and run to another area of your garden.
Something else you may want to consider for your garden set up is Chicken Fencing. Although, not predator proof, chicken fencing allows you to section off an area of your garden to keep your chickens in one place. This is especially useful if you have a larger garden that you don’t want your chickens to get lost in, or if you have a vegetable patch or flower bed to protect. This is best used when you are home or at a time when you know foxes are not about in your area, so you know your girls are safe free ranging outside of their coop run.
Like any other animal, chickens can get bored and need good sources of what we like to call hentertainment to keep them occupied when you are not around.
Our Chicken Peck Toys slowly release treats over time while being pecked and offer hens great boredom busting fun. The Omlet Chicken Perch can be placed anywhere on any chicken run, and allows your hens to fulfil their natural desire to perch from the highest point available while in their run during the day.
If you have a larger run or enclosure, you can accessorize it with the amazing PoleTree Chicken Perch Tree. The main pole of the PoleTree attaches to the roof of your run, and you can then add as many poles, perches and accessories as you like, creating an amazing poultry playground!
For spring and summer time you may want to consider a shade for the run to give your chickens a cooler area out of the sun where they can chill out.
For winter, an Extreme Temperature Blanket is ideal for keeping the coop warm when temperatures drop below freezing for multiple days in a row. There are also a number of run tarps and wind breaks available so your chickens can still enjoy time outside while being protected from the elements.
For laying hens you will need to provide layers pellets which offer the protein content they need to stay healthy and regularly lay eggs. A fully grown chicken will typically eat about 120 grams of layers pellets a day. You will also need to provide grit which is essential for helping chickens digest their food, as they do not have teeth.
Corn is a great treat for hens but should be limited as it is high in fat. Other treats, such as fruit, green veggies and cereals should also only be given in limited supply to avoid chickens filling up on those rather than the layers pellets.
It also important to ensure fresh water is available at all times – checking and refilling it daily.
Our Eglus all come with a feeder and drinker but you may want to consider buying extra to offer another area in your garden for when they are free ranging, especially important for chickens who don’t like to share with their coop-mates!
There are lots of different types of bedding available on the market, and which you choose is entirely dependent on your personal preference. Some to consider include dust extracted wood shavings, straw, chopped cardboard, Aubiose and Easichick.
When you give your chickens’ droppings tray and bedding area its weekly clean, you might want to consider sprinkling some Diatom Powder around to prevent any bugs making a home in your chicken coop, and adding some BioDri to bedding will help to sanitize the litter, make it last longer, and reduce the growth of bacteria.
Deep clean your whole coop once a year with a disinfectant such as Johnson’s Clean ‘n’ Safe to ensure the coop is spotless.
Last but not least: Chickens!
When you have everything in place and are ready to get some chickens, we strongly recommend looking to charities to rescue an ex-battery hen. While these hens may be a little more wary of their new home and the strange environment they are not used to, they will soon come round and settle in and be a great layer for you and your family.
A lot of chicken keepers are worried about their chickens during cold winter days. Chickens are usually well adapted to the cold and as long as their coop is dry on the inside, they feel happy and warm in the Eglu.
Of course there are a few things to look out for and prepare for during the winter, so we have spoken to Stefanie, who is going through her second winter with the chickens in their Eglu Cube this year. She tells us about the preparations and adaptations she makes for when the weather gets icy and how she and her chickens get through the season.
Omlet: How long have you been keeping chickens and how many have you got?
Stefanie: We have been keeping six chickens since February 2018.
Omlet: What is your favourite thing about keeping chickens?
Stefanie: I love that we have our own, freshly laid eggs every morning.
Omlet: You live in an area of Germany that usually gets very cold and snowy in winter. How cold can it get in winter and how much snow do you have at the moment?
Stefanie: We live in Lohberg, in the south of Germany. The temperatures are usually between -5 and -15 degrees centigrade in winter (5f), so it does get very cold here. We currently have around 50cm of snow, which is normal for this time of year.
Omlet: What changes did you make to the Eglu Cube to get it ready for winter?
Omlet: Do you change the daily food and water routine during the winter?
Stefanie: We make sure to feed them more regularly and keep an eye on them to make sure they definitely eat enough. They eat a lot of fresh lettuce, and I like to give them warm food to help them keep warm. Keeping an eye on the water is extremely important as it easily freezes.
Omlet: Do the chickens use the run more or less in the winter than they do the rest of the year and do your chickens like snow?
Stefanie: My chickens don’t like snow at all, so that’s why they mainly keep to the covered areas of their run, where it’s dry.
Omlet: Do your chickens lay eggs in the winter?
Stefanie: Our six girls don’t lay as much as they usually do during other times of the year, but even though we have a lot of snow, we still get around two to three eggs every day.
Omlet: Do you add a light source to your coop?
Stefanie: Yes, we do have a light in the coop as it gets dark very early these days.
Omlet: As chickens love scratching and foraging for food, do you give them some other entertainment when it’s snowy and icy?
Stefanie: Yes, we tend to spread some corn in the covered areas of their run. This keeps them entertained and offers them a chance to scratch naturally.
These are great ideas to keep your chickens happy and healthy during the winter. Have a look at our video of top tips for chicken keeping in winter:
On a cold winter’s day, when there’s a heavy frost or a thick blanket of snow do you ever wonder how your chickens manage without central heating and a mug of cocoa? It’s natural to worry if your hens will be comfortable when the temperature dips below freezing.
Unsurprisingly, chickens will look for shelter when the weather’s bad so the first thing you can do to keep your chickens cosy is make sure they have a winter proof chicken coop. In this respect choosing the right chicken coop is similar to choosing your own house. You wouldn’t want drafty windows and doors, a leaky roof, and paper thin walls – and neither do your chickens. Many coops that are bought are fine during the summer, but unfortunately when winter comes they can leave their occupants shivering. We set about testing two very different chicken coops over the course of 3 nights in the Bavarian Forest in Germany. A place that gets more than its fair share of snow and ice.
The first chicken coop was typical of the type sold all over the internet. On first impressions everything fits together well and it’s attractively painted, it comes with a roosting bar and a nesting box and a run. It appears that this is a perfectly good chicken coop. However, on closer inspection it’s worrying to find that large sections of the wooden panels are only 5mm thick. There’s no insulation and nothing in the instructions regarding the suitability of the coop for year round use.
The second coop was the Eglu Cube Chicken Coop by Omlet. This chicken coop is part of the Eglu range which all feature a twin walled construction providing an insulating layer all round the coop. Similar to the way ice chests are made, it feels extremely robust and heavy duty. You could say it’s agricultural quality in a hobby chicken coop. It looks the part – but would the Eglu keep the cold out and the warm in?
Identical digital thermometers were placed inside the Eglu and the wooden coop which would take readings both inside and outside the coops during the night. Cameras were also placed inside the coops to record the chickens. After the chickens went to bed the front doors were closed, in fact the Eglu Cube came complete with a rather fancy Automatic Chicken Coop Door which gently closed behind the last chicken.
As it got dark the outside temperature dropped to -3.8℃. While it was getting colder outside, it was getting warmer in the Eglu Cube Chicken Coop. Around an hour after the chickens had gone to roost the temperature inside the Eglu Cube was 8.3℃ and it stayed there all night. That’s a plus 12℃ temperature difference.
Unfortunately it was not as cosy in the wooden house. As the temperature outside dropped so too did the temperature inside the wooden coop. At 11pm it was -2℃ inside the coop. That’s only 1℃ warmer than the outside temperature. In fact the inside of the wooden coop stayed below zero for nearly the whole night, warming to just above zero by 7am.
If it was freezing inside you might be wondering how on earth the chickens survived. Chickens, as with all other warm blooded animals, have temperature-regulating mechanisms to keep their body temperature at a constant level (around 41-45℃ in a healthy adult hen), so they can cope with a certain amount of cold. Just like wild birds, chickens will fluff up their feathers when it gets cold; this traps a layer of air which insulates the chickens against the cold. This is why it’s so important that chickens don’t get wet during cold weather, as this prevents them from being able to fluff their feathers up. In addition a drafty coop will make it hard for them to trap this layer of warm air too.
They will also tuck their head under their wings and huddle together with their coop companions to keep themselves warm. On the in coop camera recording you could clearly see how the chickens select a roosting place, and then fluff up their feathers.
So if the chickens in the wooden coop were able to keep themselves warm even though it was freezing inside there’s nothing to worry about? Not quite, a coop that’s not insulated or draughty will place extra demands on your chickens because of the heat being lost. Chickens in a cold coop will have to increase their metabolism to turn food and fat reserves into heat at a faster rate than hens in a cosy coop. If the heat loss is extreme, or a chicken is not fully fit then over the course of several cold nights there is a risk that all the energy reserves are used up resulting in the chicken being unable to keep it’s body temperature high enough with potentially fatal consequences.
What this test shows is that properly insulated, winter ready chicken coop can make all the difference between a cosy night in the coop and one spent shivering to keep warm. As an added bonus hens that use up less energy keeping warm are more likely to keep laying.
Jo Page is a veterinary nurse who also runs the blog My Little Country Lifestyle, where she shares stories from her countryside life in the South West of England. Jo recently upgraded her old wooden chicken coop for an Eglu Go UP, and has written about her first weeks with the new coop:
“As a veterinary nurse I take the welfare of all my animals very seriously. As humans we have bred animals and birds to suit our wants and needs and on occasion this does mean they aren’t able to survive or thrive without human intervention.
The hens are also not ‘only a chicken’ they are birds I have chosen to keep for the benefit of fresh eggs and it is my responsibility to ensure their needs are met.
The Eglu Go UP is worlds away from the make shift house they had when we moved and much more superior to the coop and run at our previous house. Both were predominately made of wood and we have already had to dispose of one chicken house due to a red mite infestation which we could not clear. Red mite bite the chickens at dawn and dusk, can make them anaemic and effect egg production. They thrive in damp woody environments so traditional wooden chicken coops are a breeding haven for them.”
Insulating your chicken coop and getting your flock ready for winter is vital for their health and happiness. Most chicken breeds cope well in moderately cold temperatures as long as they have a well-insulated, dry coop. Chickens normally acclimatize to the cold weather, so if you have an insulated coop such as an Eglu Chicken Coop, you won’t need to fret during the cold months. In fact, chickens are able to adapt to the cold much better than hot weather! But with a little extra planning and preparation, you can ensure that your flock not only endures the winter, but thrives in it.
Why you should use an insulated chicken coop
Whilst chickens tolerate the cold well, ensuring your chicken coop is insulated during the cold months can promote their health. Whether you live in a state such as Alaska that is cold all year round, or experience warm summers followed by cold winters it’s vital you choose a coop suitable for the weather.
The insulation of our chicken coops is not the only benefit they provide. They are easy to assemble, easy to clean, portable and simple to attach to chicken runs. This will allow you to give your flock the space they need to roam during the day, as well as a cozy spot to sleep at night.
How to easily insulate your chicken coop
Whilst our chicken coops are naturally insulated, in really cold temperatures you may wish to insulate their home even more. Our Eglu Extreme Weather Protection are designed to perfectly fit your coop for added insulation. The temperature blankets are filled with a heat trapping recycled material that is breathable whilst keeping your pets warm. They are simple to fit to your Eglu and are easily secured with bunjees.
However, if you do not have an Eglu there are other ways to insulate your coop:
Weather protection & insulation for wooden coops
Your chickens’ coop must be waterproof! Most chicken breeds do well in the cold so long as they are dry. Chicken coops should also be insulated enough to remain warm inside even in the cold of winter. Here are our tips for insulating a chicken coop:
Spray foam insulation – you can hire someone to insulate your chicken coop with spray foam to help trap heat inside your hens’ nest.
Fiberglass insulation – using fiberglass insulation is an easy way to add DIY warmth.
Wool blankets – adding wool blankets to the smalls can help to keep the coop insulated.
Ventilation whilst keeping cozy
A well-ventilated chicken coop will ensure that plenty of fresh air gets inside the coop. This will keep the odors down and avoid moisture build-up. Whilst you want to stop chilly drafts, a chicken coop without ventilation will retain moisture along with heat. And while some air circulation is good, make sure the coop is draft-free.
Elevation to reduce dampness
Height can also be an issue when making sure chicken coops are insulated. Coops should be raised off the ground to prevent the base becoming damp. For larger flocks, the Eglu Cube is an excellent choice for both insulation and elevation. If your coop doesn’t have legs, you can place bricks under the coop to allow air to circulate and reduce dampness. Always make sure you place or build your chicken coop and run-on high ground that won’t flood during heavy rainfall.
Size of the coop
It seems counterintuitive, but chicken coops can actually be too big. When the coop is too big for the size of the flock you have, your chickens won’t create enough body heat to warm up the space. This is why it’s so important to understand how much space your chickens need, when deciding which coop to buy. Chickens huddle together and keep each other warm, so they don’t need much space in their sleeping quarters. Try not to open the door of the coop at night when your chickens are roosting as it can compromise your insulation. Be mindful that this pent-up body heat is keeping them warm, so make coop and egg checks quick! If you have a large coop or barn and just a few chickens, you can place a large cardboard box on its side, half filled with chopped straw or wood shavings in a corner to help them conserve their body heat.
Keeping your chicken run insulated
It’s important that at least part of your chicken run is covered during winter months. Using weatherproof chicken run covers will help reduce how much snow can build up inside the run. You can also build a greenhouse-style addition to your coop, covering it with clear plastic, which will help convert sunlight into warmth. To prevent areas under the run from becoming too muddy, cover wet spots with pelleted pine bedding (usually used for horse stalls). Mud is a breeding ground for poultry parasites, so muddy areas should always be addressed.
Perches for cold chickens
Give your chickens plenty of places to roost. To prevent their feet from getting too cold on the frozen ground, you’ll need to give your chickens a place to perch in both their coop and run. The perches need to be wide enough so that the chickens can cover their toes with their feathers to thaw out chilled toes. By placing freestanding chicken perches or wire-mounted chicken perches, you’ll give multiple hens the opportunity to warm their feet while they’re out of the coop.
Cleaning your coop in winter
Keep your chicken coop clean and dry. Clean the droppings from inside the coop daily and replace bedding as necessary. By keeping the coop both dry and clean, you will help to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to frostbite on your chickens combs and wattles.
It is important your flock always has a source of fresh, unfrozen water. Depending on where you live, this can pose a challenge. To prevent frequent defrosting, you can invest in a heated waterer or heated poultry drinking base. You can also insulate the water like you have your coop, by wrapping the chicken drinkers up in a layer of bubble wrap to keep the water thawed for longer. Don’t place the water inside the coop, as it will increase humidity levels.
Chicken feed in the cold
During winter your chickens feed consumption will be higher than in the spring/summer. Often chickens enjoy warm feed, like cooked lentils or warm oatmeal with some raisins or other small, dried fruits. Give your hens extra corn or scratch inside of a peck toy for both physical and mental stimulation in the afternoon, as this will heat them up internally as they digest it overnight. Offer hay or dried grasses for extra ruffage to fuel their metabolisms. Hens will decrease or even stop laying eggs in the winter to conserve energy. But you can help encourage hens to continue laying by providing adequate feed – both in quality and quantity. Supply layer pellets to give the right nutrients your egg-producers need throughout the winter.
Take care of their combs and wattles
If it gets extremely cold during the winter, your chickens’ combs and wattles can be in danger of getting frostbite. Most hardy breeds have small combs, but if you have chicken breeds with very large, floppy combs you will need to gently rub Vaseline on their combs and wattles. You will also need to keep an eye out for coughing, sneezing, and general symptoms of being unwell.
Remember at this time of year, there are hungry rats and mice attracted to the chickens feed and water. Take extra care with the storage of your feeds. Store feed away from the coop and keep it in an airtight container. If you notice any signs of vermin, remove the feeders and drinkers at night, when they are most active. Offer kitchen scraps or fresh vegetables in a Caddi Treat Holder to keep the floor of your flock’s run free of tempting treats for unwanted visitors.
Fighting winter boredom
With less grass and weeds to munch and fewer bugs to feast on, your chickens will experience boredom in the winter. This can lead to behavioral issues, like feather pecking, egg-eating etc. Prevent boredom by giving your chickens toys like Chicken Swings, perches, piles of leaves, mirrors, or even a xylophone mounted to the run! Keeping your chickens hentertained will ensure they’re mentally stimulated and kept busy.
Introducing Omlet Petcare
Whether you’re a keen chicken keeper, or have a whole pack of pets, we’re here to help you take care of them. From chicken pens to roam in, to comfy dog beds your pooch will adore.
A familiar problem for both backyard chicken keepers and commercial farms lies in how to prevent and treat infestations of the birds’ environment with red (poultry) mites – also known as dermanyssus gallinae. Compared to other poultry parasites such as fowl ticks, lice and flies – mites are by far the most common, destructive and difficult to remove. Red mites are nocturnal parasites and hide themselves in gaps and cracks during the day, laying wait to wreak havoc on your flock at night.
Signs and diagnosis
Red mites are up to 1mm in size. The title “red” has been given to these mites because they turn from gray to red after they have had a blood meal. Infected hens will not be the picture of chicken health. Once the infestation becomes significant, your chickens will become anemic. Their wattles and the combs will appear pale and their egg production will drop significantly. Red mites also cause:
Restlessness in the flock
Your chickens will also probably be reluctant to go into their coop at night because that’s where the mites are lying in wait.
When checking your chicken coop for red mites, be sure to also check their perches or other chicken coop and run accessories. An easy way to check for red mites is by rubbing a white paper towel underneath the perches at night. If there are red mites, they will be on the underside of the perch after feeding on your chickens – you’ll see red streaks on your paper towel after coming into contact with them.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But, when it comes to red mites, that’s sometimes easier said than done. Wild birds or new chickens can transmit red mites to your flock. Check your chickens’ health regularly to make sure all flock members are feeling their best.
It’s also a good idea to check for red mites routinely when you clean your chicken coop and use some preventative measures. Diatomaceous earth as part of the weekly clean is helpful in preventing and killing mites (DE is a 100% natural powder which dehydrates parasites it comes into contact with). All types of chicken coops can get red mites – however wooden coops tend to experience the most infestations.
Unfortunately, red mites can survive for up to 10 months in an empty hen house, so leaving a coop empty for a while doesn’t usually fix the problem. Choosing your housing carefully can help prevent infestations Omlet’s Eglu chicken coops are made from plastic which makes it very difficult for red mites to make a home. And in the event that there is a red mite infestation, they are quick and easy to clean. A quick blast with a pressure washer will be enough to send the mites packing.
6 Ways to treat red mites
If you find lots of red mites in the coop, it’s time for a deep clean. This type of cleaning will take several hours with a wooden chicken coop, but significantly less time with a plastic chicken coop. Remove all hens from the coop and strip it down as much as possible. Clean each part individually and allow for the coop and parts to dry completely.
2. Mite disinfectant detergent
Mix a mite disinfectant detergent (such as Smite Professional Disinfectant 1L Concentrate or Barrier Red Mite X 500ml Concentrate) with water (using the manufacturer’s guidelines). Apply this to the coop, ensuring you get it in the cracks and crevices. Omlet’s Eglu chicken coops don’t have these awkward and accommodating spaces, making red mites much easier to control. Concentrate your efforts where there is the highest population of red mites. Leave for 15-20 minutes.
3. High-pressure hose
Use a hose (preferably a pressure washer) to hose down the coop and the parts. Try to get in every nook and cranny, as this is where the mites like to hide. Leave for 10-15 minutes to dry. After this, you will most probably see more agitated mites crawling out. Repeat this process until there are very few mites emerging after each wash. Eglu chicken coops are made of heavy-duty plastic and are designed to be pressure washed with ease. One pressure wash will be enough to eradicate any existing mite population.
Leave the coop to thoroughly dry. It’s ideal to perform coop cleanings on a sunny day where UV rays can kill some of the bacteria. Put the coop back together and add bedding. Dispose of the old bedding in a plastic bag in the garbage – red mites will happily find somewhere else to live if given the opportunity.
5. Red mite powder
Sprinkle your entire coop and your chickens with a red mite powder. Ensure you rub the powder onto the perches so that any remaining mites will have to crawl through it to reach your chickens.
6. Repeat red mite powder treatment
Re-apply the red mite powder every couple of days or when it has rubbed off. Red mites are primarily active during mild weather, making peak seasons the spring and fall. They will lie dormant throughout the rest of the year, waiting for their next opportunity to emerge.
Preventing red mites with Omlet
Any chicken coop can fall victim to red mites, but with any easy-to-clean plastic chicken coop, you’ll be able to nip infestations in the bud. Our chicken perches can be removed easily for a thorough cleaning, and our plastic Chicken Swing offers a mite-resistant place to find relief. Don’t fall prey to red mites – take control with Omlet’s chicken products.
We have recently started working with the show Coop Dreams, providing them with a new setup of coops and runs for their farm. If you haven’t caught any of the episodes before we highly recommend that you check them out. Great source of knowledge if you’re thinking about keeping chickens and they also demonstrate problems and hurdles they come across in a funny and light hearted way, link is here.
In the meantime, we wanted to find out a bit more about where it all started and so Brad, the founder of Coop Dreams, has taken the time to explain to us, where and how this all began!
Soooooo… We are often asked when and how the TV show Coop Dreams started and that’s a tough question to answer because it has its initial roots way back in 1999 but really blossomed in 2014.
In 1999 I was fortunate to be asked to serve as the national spokesperson for the charity ‘Keep America Beautiful’ and speaking about conservation, recycling and reducing carbon footprints on a daily basis… That set the wheels in motion of recognizing the impact of the way we were living. Lots of changes happened over the next decade but fast forward to 2014 when we bought some land and actually began our homestead.
Not having a solid knowledge of homesteading we started searching for videos, books and blogs to help us learn… Admittedly I am NOT a ‘reader’ (Jackster is) and I do not process information well in that arena… So I began looking for videos and everything I saw had perfectly manicured lawns and flowers and incredible landscaping… Well that was pretty un-relateable and so we created a video series that would document our start for others… Showing the successes as well as the failures so people can connect… One thing led to another and pretty soon we were talking to the Discovery network about making it into a TV show… And here we are in the early parts of shooting season 4.
With that we have moved from the city to a 32 acre farm and built a barn and a small house. It has kind of exploded over these 4 years as we now have 3 dogs (2 rescues), 2 cats (That have walked out of the woods and adopted us), 3 horses, 4 goats and 36 chickens… Plus all of the deer, raccoons, foxes and other critters we share the land with.
Homesteading with Coop Dreams – If I was pressed as to why we do this and what we enjoy about it I think it would be the ‘honesty’ of it all. There is something very pure about raising your own food and caring for animals. Additionally there are no games with the animals we share our farm with. We love them and as long as we scratch backs and bring food – they love us. It is pure, honest and very comforting… I do not think I could go back to a life before this farm.
It doesn’t come without its challenges as with almost 50 animals we have to care for, someone is always sick or hurt… Something always need to be fixed or repaired… and there are NO days off. Additionally it is tough to lose an animal, painful to see any suffer and stressful to know when any are not ‘right’.
The other challenges come from being a part of the TV show. In being a true reality show we do not hide, script or cover anything up so our mistakes are out in the open for viewers and followers to judge, criticize and correct. We are grateful that the Coop Dreams community, which continues to grow, has been very understanding and helpful in both our challenging and tough times. I really think it is because it is so easy to see yourselves in us… We are not tv people, we are not perfect and we are certainly not experts… We are just a family that cares about their animals and are trying to live in a more compatible way with the environment.
It appears as though our little chickies have seen something intriguing….can you work out what it is? Their camera can’t quite pick out the details from this far away but we hope to bring you some clearer images as they get closer over the next few days.