As the days become shorter and the temperatures begin to drop, you must not forget that your chickens have special needs, too. In preparation for the winter season, you must do several things to ensure your flock stays warm throughout those cold months.
Here in Australia, it gets really cold from June to August. To keep our bodies warm, we sometimes wear comfortable clothing and layer them. To further bring warmth, we drink up something hot, such as coffee or tea. However, it’s never the same with our chickens.
Although chickens are known to be tough as they can withstand the cold season even if they are in their respective chicken coops, there are still a couple of things you can do to be sure they stay as comfortable as possible during the cold months. Here are some of my tips:
1. Make their chicken coops cozy and warm.
Whenever you notice broken windows or other damaged parts in a chicken coop, better fix it before it’s too late. If the roof is leaking or if there are any tiny cracks, mend it. If you are having problems with digging predators, find ways to stop that. By taking care of these problems right away, you can ensure the safety and comfort of your chickens.
Here’s a heads up. It is not required to have an airtight coop. So if you want to fill every single hole you see, resist the urge. Why? Chickens produce moisture and if it can’t find its way out, there is a possibility of creating damp conditions inside that will lead to respiratory diseases.
2. Consider using the deep litter method.
Have you ever heard about the deep litter method? If not, then you should definitely read about it. Many have become big fans of this method because of the many perks it brings. You just simply have to let the microorganisms in the chicken coop to do all the work.
Basically, bugs consume the nitrogen found in the droppings of your flock. When they feed on it, the carbon content is broken down and compost is then created in your garden.
Here’s how you do it. Simply collect and pile dry leaves or hay in the chicken coop. Every once in a while, turn the bedding with a fork. If there are any wet areas, scoop them out. If you wish to speed up the decomposition, you can also throw chicken feed like cracked corn into the coop. That way, your birds will keep scratching around the bedding to find for corn bits.
3. Create a winter yard.
Creating a winter yard isn’t just a great way to keep your birds comfortable throughout the chilly days. It could also be an excellent bonding for the family.
How is this done? Together with your family, just gather around cornstalks, vines, barks, and leaves you see around you in your yard. And then, top them with wood chips, grass clippings, and any other organic substances you come across. In the long run, you will be surprised to see worms, bugs, and other critters feasting in the pile you created.
4. Try other feeding strategies.
If possible, keep the chicken feeder of your birds out in the yard. With this, you are actually preventing the rodent population from increasing inside the coop. At the same time, you are also practicing and encouraging your chickens eat and leave their droppings outside.
During winter, chickens can’t always go outside. For that, you can just move the feeder inside and toss them several treats to keep them busy. If you want, you can also visit the nearest pet supply store to find new feeding options for your flock.
5. Constantly check their water supply.
It is a fact that chickens are made of approximately 65% water. Considering that, you should probably have an idea how important water is for your girls.
Like humans, these creatures need more water than feed. If they do not have access to a clean and fresh water supply even just for a couple of hours, it can affect their productivity for days. Technically, a limited water supply may result in problems with digestion. Without it, the food they intake may affect their breathing.
During winter, their water supply is prone to freezing. But this does not mean you need to change it from time to time. Applying a little heat will suffice. Take note that these feathery creatures do not like very warm water. They want it cold. Therefore, when applying heat, make sure you only apply a little.
Of course, the best time to prepare your flock for winter is now. With these tips I presented, keeping your girls warm during winter may be achieved easily. But if you wish to reap off more perks from them, such as continuous supply of fresh and organic eggs, I suggest you read the eBook I wrote about 15 Ways to Get Your Chickens Laying the Best Eggs.