I don’t claim to spoil my chickens, but I do like to make sure that they are well taken care of and are happy. That’s where Winter Fun For Chickens comes in to play!
When cold and snow cover the ground, chickens can’t do what is natural for them like scratching and pecking for bugs and worms. Also their dust bathing area is frozen or covered with snow. Besides the obvious of clearing some snow from the ground, there are a few things I do for our ladies that help keep them entertained.
Dust baths are chickens way of keeping clean and fending off parasites such as mites and lice. Chickens naturally make dust bathing holes in warmer months when the ground is more pliable. They may need a little extra help in the colder months when the ground is frozen.
Using wood ash from a fireplace or wood burning stove is a great addition to help them have a dust bathing area. It is important to use only ash from a fireplace or wood burning stove. Do not use briquettes, ash from burning trash, or any other ash that had lighter fluid or other chemical coating on it. Those can be hazardous to a chickens health.
Putting wood ashes in a weather protected area is an added benefit of helping to keep the ashes somewhat free of rain or snow. You could also put the ashes in a container such as a kiddie pool or black rubber water/feed trough for your chickens to enjoy.
Our coop is elevated off the ground two feet and is enclosed with chicken wire. Having a weather protected are allows the chickens to be outside, but out of harsh weather, such as rain, hail, or snow. Many times our chickens like to hang out there instead of going inside the coop during heavy rains or light snows. You could also put some type of covering, like a tarp or constructed roof, over a part of the run to allow a weather protected area.
We constructed this simple perching area by using two 8 inch 6×6 treated posts and a 4 foot 2×2. It gives the chickens another level to stand on, above the snowy, cold ground. Other options could be tree stumps, small chairs, or step stools.
Even without the garden in the winter months, I still try to give our chickens kitchen scraps when available. When broccoli was on sale, I bought extra, with my chickens in mind. Simply tying some broccoli from a shepherd’s hook provide chickens hours of fun and provide extra nutrition. You could also use cabbage, which is inexpensive to buy. Screw an eye hook into the cabbage and tie it to a shepherd’s hook. Make sure it is dangling at the correct height for the chickens to peck at.
Offering chickens these or other winter activities will help to keep your flock active and healthy.
What is your favorite thing to do for your flock during the winter season?