Are you worried about your flock for the cold weather that is upon us? Don’t fret! By doing a few things, your chickens will be fine. Remember…chickens are birds, not mammals.
Some things to ponder:
- Chickens have survived winter weather for many many years (before electricity – heated coops and water heaters were not heard of).
- Chickens huddle together to stay warm. I have peaked in on our ladies at night – they are always on the top roost, and are always snuggled close to each other. This is their natural instinct to stay warm.
- For birds of the air, we put feed in bird feeders and water in bird baths. We don’t give them a heated bird house or heated water.
With that said, there are a few things that I do to ensure that my ladies will be okay during the colder months:
1.) Frozen water is something that a lot of people deal with.
I have recently changed from metal back to plastic. The metal water container worked great in the warmer months, keeping the water cooler. But, when it started getting colder, the water seemed to freeze faster. Also, the metal container made it harder to break up the ice and open the container.
Just look at this picture taken after my daughter ‘beat it’, trying to open it so she could give them fresh water.
In my experience, the plastic watering container works better in colder months because if the sun is shining at all, it can penetrate the water so it doesn’t freeze as fast. Something that makes my mornings run a little smoother (but we are not in the habit of doing every night) is taking the watering container in the heated garage at night when we close the chicken coop up.
2.) For inside the coop, there is a vent. Ventilation is necessary to allow fresh air to circulate through the coop. We also keep the small coop door open during the day, while the ladies are out.
Ventilation also lets out moist air that can occur from the chickens droppings. Moist air in the coop can lead to frostbite.
If the coop is airtight (no ventilation), the droppings start to compost and create an ammonia smell. This can lead to respiratory illness.
For the floor, I may go a little longer (than normal time) for cleaning out the coop, adding more straw where they have scratched it thin between cleanings. This acts as insulation.
We close the ladies in at night. This helps to keep the cold wind and predators out.
3.) For outside the coop, the ladies have a fenced in area where they stay safe.
They also have an area under the coop that is also fenced and has a bale of straw to protect against strong bitter winds and blowing snow. Look at them – are they inquisitive or photogenic?
Handy Hubby built an outside roost for the ladies.
This can help to protect their feet from the snow-covered ground, and also gives them a ‘podium’ to speak from (smile).
4.) Although I don’t have as many food scraps to give them as I do in the warmer months (from the garden), I try to supplement their diet as often as I can.
Food scraps from our kitchen are healthy for the ladies at all times, but in the colder months it can be an added natural benefit of vitamins and minerals. We also give our ladies layer pellets twice a day.
With a few precautions taken, chickens can not only survive the cold winter months, but also thrive through the cold winter months.
Happy New Year from LL Farm!