The first snowstorm is upon us so at VJP Poultry it’s time to make sure that the plastic is up and covering the chicken runs. We have used plastic on the runs for many years. In the past we have hung cheap plastic from rolls. It looked great at the beginning of winter, but pretty droopy by the end. This year we decided to use something else.
I like using the plastic for several reasons. First of all, it keeps the snow from coming into the run. My silkies do not like walking on snow and will avoid it at all costs. They will not leave the coop if they see snow out their door. The plastic will also keep the rain out of the run keeping the ground dry. The silkies will look nicer for not having mud on their feet and feathers.
The second reason I like hanging plastic around the runs in the winter is that it cuts the wind and makes it warmer the run. It kind of creates a greenhouse effect inside of the run which makes it more inviting for them to come out in colder weather. I make sure that the plastic is up on the North side and the West side. That is where the cold wind will mostly come from in the winter. I kind of leave the South side a little more open to help with ventilation. You don’t want the plastic so tight that fresh air is not getting in.
We are trying a new kind of plastic this year Instead of using plastic that comes on a roll, we ordered clear tarps that have built in grommet holes. The tarp also has lines running through it to keep the tarp stronger and to keep it from ripping in the wind.
We placed eye hooks in the wood along the bottom of the run. The grommet holes fit into the hooks and secure the tarp. We then use ball bungee cords at the top to fasten the tarp down. Hopefully this clear tarp can be easily taken down and put up for many years to come. We also use zip ties where needed to keep the tarps secure.
I don’t usually take the plastic down until it has warmed up in the spring. Even after the snows have stopped it still keeps the spring rains out. It can also keep some predators out of the run as well.
Winterizing the chicken coops and runs is an important task. You want them warm and snug, but really what they need is to be free from cold drafts, to stay dry, to have the air well ventilated and to keep the waterers open and not frozen over. If you can keep those things in mind when winterizing, you will be keeping your silkies healthy and happy this winter.