We all know that keeping chickens during the winter can be difficult, particularly when the snow and frost comes! So in this article I’m going to share with you 4 steps you can take to keep your chickens happier this winter.
Keeping the Coop Warm
Your hens will be spending a lot of time in the coop during the winter, so the first thing you need to do is make sure their coop is ready. You have three main things to do here:
1. Eliminate drafts
3. Add heating (sometimes)
As far as eliminating drafts you want to make sure you have no gaps or holes in the coop. If you do they need sealing up, otherwise your chickens might get frostbite. Once you’ve eliminated any drafts you need to insulate the coop. You have a few options when it comes to insulation, but my favorite is to use Styrofoam boards. These boards can easily be cut to size and glued in place; just make sure to cover any Styrofoam with wood because your chickens may peck at the foam and it is toxic for them.
Finally if you live in cold areas (anywhere below freezing) then you may need to consider heating the coop.
Making the Run Safe
Once you’ve made the coop suitable you can turn your attention to the run. You have two main things to keep in mind here: security and comfort.
First let’s look at security. During the winter time predators will get very hungry and with this comes an increased desperation to hunt. This will make them even bolder when it comes to attacking your chicken coop and chickens. You should make sure the perimeter of the run is properly secured using hardware cloth. If you live in an area with predators known for digging (Coyotes or Foxes) then you need to also bury the hardware cloth horizontally to prevent them digging into the run.
Once you’ve made the run secure you need to keep it comfortable for your chickens. When it snows or freezes you need to cover the ground with leaves or straw, as chickens don’t like walking on snow.
Feed Them The Right Food
As your chickens will have stopped laying during this time, you can slightly reduce the protein in their feed, however this isn’t mandatory. Most people will continue to feed their chickens layers pellets during the winter.
You can however, add chicken scratch to their diet during the winter. I like to give it to them as a treat each evening just before they go into roost. Feeding them scratch will kick on their digestive system which will provide them with some warmth as they go to roost.
If it’s exceptionally cold you can also feed them warm porridge in the morning; mine love this! Be careful with adding syrup to it though; lots of sugar isn’t good for your chickens. You should just feed it to them plain or with the occasional piece of fruit added.
KeepThe Water From Freezing
Lots of people don’t think twice about water during the winter but this would be a mistake.
If you’re in an area where it doesn’t freeze you just need to keep to the usual routine. However if you live in an area prone to freeze you need to be very careful with their water. You can either use a heater waterer or you will need to visit the waterer several times a day and break the ice out and replace with fresh water.
I hope these four tips help make your chickens’ lives a little easier during the winter!
David Woods is a carpenter, outdoorsman, and author with more than 30 years of professional woodworking experience. He is the author of best-seller How to Build a Log Home and has educated more than half a million people on how to build a log cabins.
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