Preparing Your Chickens for Winter

Preparing Your Flock For Winter

Believe it or not, winter is already here for some, while others are just now starting to feel the cooler temperatures. Although most chickens are cold hardy, it is important to prep your chickens for the cooler temperatures so that way any possibility of frostbite is lower and you don’t have to worry about your birds getting to cold. Here’s some good tips to keep your birds from getting cold this winter that are safe and effective!

Treats

Chickens love their treats, no doubt about that, so why not spoil them a little? Remember that treats should only about 10% of their diet, but that still leaves plenty of room for good warming treats. Here’s a list of my favorite treats that I give my chickens throughout the chilly months.

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  • Scratch Grains: The corn in the scratch helps to warm up your chickens, as well as making a good bordem buster. I like to fill up plastic berry boxes with scratch grains and my chickens love to kick the boxes around and hunt for treats!
  • Warm Oatmeal: Making your chickens oatmeal not only is good for them and has a bunch of health benefits, but the warm oatmeal also helps keep your chickens warm and entice them out the coop on cold, snowy days.
  • Mealworms: These are high in protein, and chickens love them. The protein is good because they’re still recovering from their fall molt, and protein will help make their feathers stronger.
  • Cabbage: This doesn’t keep your chickens warm, but hanging it from a string turns it into a great chicken toy that keeps them from getting bored.
  • Eggs: Cooked eggs are full of good vitamins and proteins, and the warm eggs warm up your birds.

Should I put their feed and water in the coop?

Even though it is cold outside, and their might even be snow on the ground, your birds still need to go outside and get exercise, so that means their feed and waters stay outside. I never put food or water in their coop, no matter the season. It makes messes, and it means my birds spend more time inside verses out getting exercise.

Depending on how it cold it gets where you live, their water can freeze. Since chickens need constant access to water, these are a few good tips on making sure your chickens water doesn’t freeze.

  • Bring the waters inside: Bringing the water inside keeps it from freezing since your house will be warmer than outside
  • Empty your waters at night: Sometimes emptying out the waters at night is a good thing. It allows your chickens to have fresh water everyday, and some vitamins that you can mix in their water need to be replaced daily, so this is almost like motivation, right?
  • Use a heated water: You can find heated water bowls on amazon, and they’re perfectly safe to use. They keep the water warm enough so that way it won’t freeze, but it’s not to warm to where your chickens won’t drink it.

Coops

Moving on from water and food, let’s get into your chicken coop. Some people swear by heating their coop in the winter, but I disagree. For starters, we all know how much of a fire hazard heat lamps are, so hanging them in your coop wouldn’t be a good idea. Also, chickens are cold hardy no matter what breed they are, so they don’t need a heat lamp. Ok, so you may feel bad for your chickens in the snow, but they will be ok. Your birds will cuddle with each other on the roosts, tuck their beaks under their wings, and keep each other warm. Even through this, though, there is a chance of frostbite if you live in really cold climates, so make sure you watch out for that. Rubbing vaseline on your chickens combs and wattles is said to help prevent frostbite.

Back to the heating the coop, your chickens can actually become dependant on the heat and get sick or not come out of the coop to eat or drink. Say the bulb in the lamp burns out or bursts, your hens would go into shock because their bodies are used to the heat, and that would only lead to trouble. They also make heating plates, much like the brooder plates you can buy for chicks, but they stand upright and radiate heat around the coop. Again, not a good idea as your chickens can become dependant on the heat and it still posses as a fire hazard. Here’s a couple of safe and easy tips to keep your chickens warm:

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  • Straw: Straw serves as a great insulator and helps trap in heat as it is hollow. Also, it’s a great bordem buster as my chickens love to dig in it to find the seeds. Don’t use hay as it considered to “green”.
  • Draft drapes: Place some curtain like drapes by your chickens door into the coop. These will keep some of the cold air outside.
  • Make sure your coop is draft free: Making sure that drafts can’t enter your coop is very important. Drafts are already problem causers, but making sure they’re not able to blow cold air into your coop is important. It is important however, that your coop is still well ventilated.

I hope this helps you prepare your chickens for winter this year. Winter defiantly can be hard on chickens, but not as tough as summer, that’s for sure! If you have any more tips I didn’t mention, head over to my Instagram and share your favorite winter tips! Happy chickening!

Dancing with Chickens

© Dancing with Chickens, 2018.

 

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