4 Steps to Making Your Backyard Chickens Happy During Winter

| 12/10/2018 9:27:00 AM

Chickens in Winter

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

2. Insulate

3. Add heating (sometimes)

12/19/2018 9:45:26 AM

I'll also agree with RoyPfz (and would love to know the name and/or author of the book you mentioned!) I'll add an endorsement for deep bedding--that is, provide an initial good layer of bedding early in the fall, added to whenever it seems necessary (smell or dampness), and no clean-out until spring. The chickens will scratch around in the litter and keep it aerated, it will begin to decompose underneath providing a little warmth, and it insulates the coop floor. The chickens stay healthy--more so than when kept scrupulously cleaned out! Of course, you don't just forget about the bedding--check to make sure the chickens aren't just packing the top layer down, which can happen if they have to stay inside due to storms and/or if your numbers are pushing the size of the coop. If this happens, just turn the bedding over with a fork every few days and add some fresh. I also provide some feed scattered into the bedding (encouraging the birds to spend time scratching around in it) and the occasional cabbage hung up for pecking. Keeps the biddies busy if they are stuck inside. I'm also able to double their space, for daytime. My coop happens to be up on wheels (posts also work) so there's a good space underneath. Several old storm windows and doors leaned against the edge of the coop keep out most of the wind and snow, and allow the full sun in. Even on sub-freezing days, I'll see the biddies basking in the sun or dust-bathing under there. (As a bonus, the raised coop means rats and other rodents can't burrow and nest under the floor.)

12/12/2018 11:55:28 AM

I appreciate your thoughts on winterizing the coop but I feel I need to disagree on a couple points. I live in Northeast Colorado and we have wind and extreme cold during the winter, like 20 below. I have heavy breeds like barred rock, Rhode Island reds and orpingtons and guineas. I have an open sided coop, the south side of course, and I have no issues with the winter conditions. My hens lay through the cold weather and enjoy being out of the coop except when there is deep snow. The only things you need to worry about is drafts, moisture and water. Heavy breeds were bred for all but the hottest weather, your grandparents didn't heat or insulate the coop and their chickens were fine. As long as the birds are dry and out of the wind they can take the coldest of conditions and thrive. Fresh water is always important no matter the weather and I have good luck with a heated base under my waterer. The only time is gets ice on the edges is around 15 below but it never ices over. There is a good book written in the 1930's about open air chicken houses that talks about the problems caused by chicken houses that don't have good ventilation. Just something to think about.

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