These 10 fall chicken coop chores will help ensure your coop and chicken run are in good shape and ready for the cooler weather!
Fall is an ideal time to check out your chicken coop and chicken run! Summer is often so busy that some of the little chores can get overlooked. And with winter on the way, it’s important to make sure that your chicken coop and chicken run are in tip-top condition. Here are ten chores that you can do this fall to prepare your chicken coop for the cooler weather!
Clean the coop and run
Give the coop a good scrubbing before the cold weather sets in. Remove and replace old bedding. If you have a warm fall day, take advantage of the nice weather! Spray out and scrub the coop as needed to remove built-up droppings, cobwebs and any unwanted guests like insects and rodents. If possible, open all the windows and doors on a warm sunny day to let the coop fully air out.
Make sure you have adequate ventilation
Providing proper ventilation in your coop is one of the most important things you can do to keep your chickens healthy during the cold weather. Proper ventilation reduces the moisture and ammonia build-up from droppings which can cause frostbite and respiratory problems. You can add extra ventilation to your coop by adding screened windows, turbine style ventilation fans or screened air holes under the eaves.
Check for leaks and drafts
While it is very important to provide proper ventilation, the coop shouldn’t be drafty. Utilize a breezy fall day to check for and correct any cold drafts that might be effecting the coop. Checking for leaks is also very important! Most chicken breeds are hardy and handle winter weather well, but they must stay dry. Use a rainy day to make sure that your coop roof is secure. Check for moisture or any areas where wind-driven rain could enter the coop during a cold, winter storm. You may also need to wrap part of your chicken run with greenhouse plastic to block snow and heavy winds if you live in an area with harsh winters.
Check the coop perimeter for holes and weak areas
As the weather cools off, predators start searching for new sources of food. Make sure your coop is secure and predator-proof by checking the wire surrounding your coop and run. Replace any areas that are weak or damaged. Add extra wire for protection to keep predators from digging under and into the coop or run.This is also be a good time to install motion-sensor lights and new door locks and latches. If you use an electric fence around your coop or run, make sure the fence is in good working order and that your power cords or solar panels are ready for winter.
Provide a dust bath
Fall is an important time to make sure your birds are healthy, as they are finishing up molting season and heading into the cold weather. It’s important to check for feather mites, a common but deadly parasite. Providing a dust bath is one of the best ways to prevent mites and keep your birds healthy! Make sure your chicken run has a dust bath and that it’s ready for the colder winter weather. If you live in an area where the ground freezes solid, consider making your chickens a temporary all-weather dust bath for the winter.
Fill grit and/or oyster shells
Grit and oyster shells help your chicken break down their food, which can help prevent obstructed crops (more about obstructed crops here). However, grit is usually the first thing that gets overlooked in my coops throughout the summer! In the fall and winter, I try to keep the grit stocked at all times. Since the ground is usually frozen, our chickens are less likely to peck at and eat the small rocks and sandy particles that help with digestion. Providing grit at all times helps ensure healthy digestion for our birds over the cold months.
Clean feeders & waterers
Take a few minutes this fall to scrub out all of your chicken feeders and waterers. If your flock has been healthy, and there’s no moldy build-up in the feeders, you can just use warm soapy water to clean them. However, if they need to be sanitized, you can use a weak bleach-water solution followed by a thorough rinse to deep clean them.
With the cooler weather, mice and other rodents are looking for an easy meal! Protect your chicken feed from rodents by storing it in a secure place. Double check your feed storage to make sure that it is safe from rain and/or built-up moisture. An affordable storage option is to use heavy duty plastic trash cans. We use them to store all of our feed and have never had a single problem, even over the winter.
Put out heated waterers if needed/available
If you live in an area that freezes, you may want to use heated waterers for your chickens. Heated waterers are extremely convenient and also help ensure your chickens have constant access to water. If you are running electrical cords to the coop, make sure that they are rated for outdoor use. Also, double check that any plug-ins and connections are protected from moisture. If you don’t have access to electricity for your coop, make sure you have a plan in place and plenty of buckets ready to supply your chickens with fresh water over the coming months.
Stock your first aid kit
Fall is an ideal time to make sure you have essential first aid items on hand! Organize your animal first aid supplies and keep them in a convenient and easy-to-access location. We store our first aid supplies in a 5 gallon bucket. It’s keeps all the supplies secure and we can easily grab the buckets and go when needed! Here’s a list of everything I keep in our chicken first aid kit.
Kaylee Vaughn is a suburban homesteader, caring for chickens, goats, and a large garden on a little less than an acre. She and her family strive to create the most efficient homestead possible in the small space we have available. Her chickens are not only beautiful yard ornaments, but also a vital part of their homestead management practices! “We utilize them to produce manure, control pests, turn compost, and more.” Kaylee’s nick-named them “the gardeners” because they are always in the garden, working hard – and redecorating on occasion, too! You can follow Kaylee through her website.