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What Do You Do With The Animals In The Winter?

Aren’t they cold? Don’t they need heat? But it’s so cold outside! Poor chickens! Where do the bees go for the winter?

We get many questions and comments about raising animals in MN winters. Truth be told, it’s pretty much just like raising them any other time of year, except their water freezes in the winter.

The Bees

Bees don’t hibernate or fly south for the winter. They hunker down inside their hive flapping their wings with the sole purpose of keeping the Queen warm, 94 degrees to be exact.

The bees prepped for winter by: making as much honey as they could and getting rid of the dead weight-Drones to be exact. The Queen doesn’t lay eggs during the winter, so there is no need for the Drones aka male bees. It’s kind of alarming to walk by the hive and see a pile of dead bees on the landing board. But, the worker bees were just cleaning house and getting rid of the dead bees.

Mr. and Mrs. HH did a few more things to help support them through the winter. We treated for Varroa mites, placed sugar patties in the hive, added a moisture board and wrapped the hive with a thin layer of insulation. After all this was done, we strapped the hive down and wished them Good Luck! Here’s to hoping that they are strong enough to survive the winter. If not, we will start over with new bees in March.


The Chickens

The chickens stay nice and cozy in their run and coop. To prepare for the winter, we add plastic to the sides of their run to block the wind and snow. We do not add heat to their coop, because after all, they have their own down coat. A chickens external body temp is over 100 degrees! If we add supplemental heat and the power goes out or the heater breaks (like our bucket heater did this year) our chickens are sure to freeze because they didn’t adapt to the cold naturally-we don’t want that.

Last winter during the Polar Vortex, we did need to bring one chicken into the house. Wren was molting during the Polar Vortex and she just didn’t have enough feathers to keep herself warm and she did suffer pretty significant frostbite. She survived with a little TLC and is living her best life this winter.

The biggest struggle during the winter is keeping water thawed. Luckily, we have power to our run, so we just add a bucket heater and life is grand.


The Pigs

These little piggies LOVE the snow and have no problem with the cold as long as they have enough straw to bury themselves in and each other to cuddle with and keep warm.

They have a hut that stays dry in the winter and summer. Just today, they got two bales of straw to bed down in and were busy tearing them apart to get them “just right.”

Winter pigs grow a little slower because they burn more calories staying warm, but that’s ok with us.

The struggle with winter pigs is keeping their water thawed. We have power to our pen to run a submersible stock tank heater. Getting water to the stock tank takes a little more ingenuity from Mr. HH as we don’t have running water our their yet. Today, 10 buckets of snow refilled the tank just fine though.

The animals of Hideaway Homestead live their best lives no matter what the weather!

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