Knowing what to do before winter arrives is a crucial step to ensuring your birds will stay healthy and comfortable. I have 5 winter care tips that will undoubtly make winter care for your chickens easier to do.
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5 Winter Tips for Your Chicks
This year winter was in full swing by December and I mean temperatures in the teens with wind chills next to zero. Caring for chickens in the winter takes some planning ahead and prevention is key. This type of weather makes you second guess the ability of your birds to persevere the cold. Some people heat their coops but I am not an advocate of heating the chicken coop because I don’t believe it to be a safe option. So as temperatures get colder the birds acclimate themselves and by giving artificial heat to the coop your throwing off their bodies cycle. You can’t just stand by and do nothing though. These are some things that you can do make it better for your ladies:
Cover the run and sides so snow won’t blow in
Nothing worse than when the snow lets up and the girls finally trudge their way out of the coop only to face a snow covered run. They won’t be so enthused to venture out and being cooped up for long periods of time only encourages bad behaviors.
I learned the hard way after a snowstorm, the run was covered in snow and they could only venture under the coop. I felt so bad so prior to our next storm I covered the run with drop cloths, which worked o.k. Next year i’m going to see if we can invest in getting a clear corrugated plastic roof.
If there are any drafts at the level your birds are at in the coop do some work to cover those drafty spaces
If you have windows in the coop make sure there are no cracks or areas where drafts can get in. Get some silicone and have those cracks sealed!
Provide adequate ventilation so the ammonia levels don’t get your ladies sick
I know I just said cover all cracks and prevent drafts and now I’m telling you to provide ventilation, confusing aren’t I? Well the thing is you want your ventilation to be at a height level above where the chickens roost. This is why almost all good constructed building structures, chicken coops included, have those wonderful things called soffits. Soffits are high up and can allow an exit point for ammonia and moisture to exit.
Make sure they have fresh clean water
At all times when the chickens aren’t roosting for the night, make sure they have water available. I have to say one of best assets I could have gotten for my girls is the heated water bowl, which you can purchase here. Nothing worse than having to change the water out 3 or more times a day because it froze. Those heated waterers can be expensive but really its more for the owner than the birds. Who wants to trudge out in the cold to replace water multiple times a day with so many other chores to do?
Give them some entertainment because chances are weather could prevent them from having outside time
Take some string and hang some veggies for them to go at it. I like to use broccoli or cauliflower, something to keep them pecking at it for hours. Also even with our best intentions the run gets just plain old nasty with mud sometimes so have some wood tree stumps or logs for them to climb on.
Winter can be a brutal time of the year to tend to chickens but with some planning ahead and prevention your birds will get through those months with no problems.