Winter can be a demanding time for both chickens and chicken owners. However there are several things you can do to prepare for winter which will make both you, and your chickens’ life, much easier.
Keep reading to learn the four key steps to preparing your flock for winter.
Step 1: Get Your Coop Ready
The first thing you need to do is prepare your coop for the bad weather that inevitably comes with winter. I like to do a visual inspection of my coop and see if I can spot anything. I’m generally looking for any signs of rotting or vulnerability where predators might be able to get inside the coop.
Another good point here to mention is that you will have to close your coop door earlier and earlier as winter progresses. If you’re working and this isn’t possible, you might consider an automatic coop door.
Step 2: Get Your Chickens Ready
You want to make sure that your hens are in fine health going into winter. Winter can be demanding on your hens so any illness or problems they have will be compounded and made worse by winter. In September/October I like to give my hens a visual inspection and once over.
You should be looking for things like parasites, any signs of abrasion, or any other anomalies. If you’re really looking to get them in tip-top shape, you can consider adding electrolytes or garlic into their water. This will give their immune system a welcomed boost.
Step 3: Keeping Them Warm
One of the biggest problems your chickens will face during wintertime is the cold. You need to make sure you keep them warm during this time. Note, this doesn’t mean you need to provide them with a heater, but it does mean you provide them with suitable housing. You should make sure their coop is draft proof and insulated. For insulation you can use small Styrofoam boards, just make sure you cover them all so your chickens don’t peck at it!
Another good way to keep them warm is to use food. You can feed them cracked corn just before they go to roost in the evening and their digestive system will be activated; this provides them with some warmth during the night time.
Step 4: Preventing Boredom and Bullying
If you’ve spent any amount of time watching chickens you will notice that they spend large amounts of their time roaming, scratching, and pecking at the ground; they are mostly looking for food and scavenging!
However during the winter when the ground freezes over and snow comes down, your chickens can no longer forage like this. This means that your chickens will get bored and this normally results in them bullying and pecking other chickens. You can avoid this problematic behaviour by keeping them busy. A common way to do this is with cabbage tetherball.
Claire is the editor at The Happy Chicken Coop, www.thehappychickencoop.com