We are truly headed into winter. Last week we had cold, gusty weather. The wind came out of the northwest and chilled right to the bone. Some of the gusts topped out at 60 miles per hour. The chicks went out as usual, only retreating to the coop when it began to blow and rain.
When it stopped raining, I broke a bale of straw and lined the northwest corner of the yard with “slices” or flakes of hay. These were normal-size kicker bales, so each slice was about chicken height. I then laid a few flakes of hay in the middle of the “V” so the girls could scratch them up and create their own fluffy bed of hay to snuggle down into protected from the wind.
The girls use this type of windbreak all winter in temperatures down to 14F. I keep them in when the temperatures drop lower. Dominiques have good tight feathering and their rose combs resist frostbite, so they are a good breed for this climate. I do make sure that their yard is snow-free with straw bedding outside and in the coop to protect their feet from the freezing ground and to insulate the coop floor.
Being chickens, they just couldn’t resist all the possibilities in those flakes of hay lining the fence, so eventually they tore them up and stomped them down as well. I went out a couple of times that day when the wind was at its worst to kick the hay back up against the fence and bank the corners. (Another option might be to wire a few sheets of plywood into place, but we don’t have any to spare at the moment.)
Most days find the girls gathered in the corner nestled deep in the straw, their dark plumage soaking up what sun is shining. They are tough gals and enjoy being outside, especially when there is some protection from the wind. Begonia