Chickens can be highly entertaining creatures, worth keeping for regular access to fresh eggs. However, it can be a little challenging to make sure they stay healthy and happy during the winter months.
This is especially true if you live in an area where the winter months are icy. These are ten tips that can make your chickens more comfortable and happy during the winter, and how you can encourage them to keep laying if they are the type to lay eggs all year round.
Don’t Let Their Water Freeze
Firstly, it is important that you keep a close eye on your chicken’s access to water. They won’t drink frozen water for obvious reasons, and you could think about purchasing a heated chicken waterer which is a great way to ensure they can drink water as regularly as they want.
Patch Up Holes To Prevent A Draft
It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but many people forget about this step when they are preparing for the colder season. Try to take a closer look at the coop and see if there are any holes or gaps that could be creating a cold draft. Just like us, your chickens will not enjoy a cold breeze running through their home, so you should try to patch holes that are causing a draft in order to keep them comfortable and warm.
Another way to keep your chickens warm during the winter months is to increase the thickness of straw that you are lining their coop with. This acts as an insulator and helps keep some heat inside without letting the cold in.
Feed Them In The Evening
Try to change up the routine of your chickens and feed them less throughout the day. This way, you can feed them larger amounts of carbohydrates during the evening so that they are fuller and therefore warmer during the night when temperatures are at their lowest. This can be a great way to keep your chickens happy and satisfied during cold winter nights.
Keep Roosts Above The Ground
Obviously, roosts are kept above the ground, but it’s worth checking that they are at least 1-2 feet from the ground. Your chickens will use these platforms to huddle together when they are cold and get away from the icy ground or moisture that could have been walked into the coop.
Protect From Frostbite
It may seem a little strange at first, but Vaseline is a great barrier against extreme temperatures. It can be carefully applied to the most vulnerable parts of your chickens, to prevent them from getting frostbite. If your chickens have especially large wattles and combs, it is worth protecting them by covering them in some petroleum jelly.
Sheltered Outdoor Space
It’s no secret that chickens don’t really like snow. However, they still enjoy being outdoors during the winter because of the access to natural light and space to explore. If you are anticipating an especially snowy winter, it could be worth creating a covered outdoor space around your chicken’s coop. Try to get your hands on a polytunnel, old tarp, or makeshift greenhouse and create a little shelter.
Keep Them Entertained
Your chickens can become a little unhappy if they are unoccupied, so it could be useful to think of some toys or games which can keep your coop busy. Hang a cabbage on a string somewhere around your coop, and you could even have a little fun creating obstacle courses for them to complete.
Don’t Shut Them Inside
A common mistake that many chicken owners make is shutting the coop during the winter and leaving the chickens inside. They enjoy their freedom and will settle inside if they are too cold. Leave your coop open, so your chickens have different options. If you are especially concerned about them being cold, then you could lay down extra hay and straw around the coop so that their feet are protected.
Heaters Are A Fire Hazard
While it can seem like the most innocent thing to do, heaters do not pair well with the amount of dry straw and hay which are in the coop. It is a natural fire hazard, and your chickens don’t really need it. They like to huddle together for warmth, and they will be fine with a little extra insulation.
Some of these steps could seem a little unnecessary, but it is definitely worth making sure that your chickens are happy during the winter months. This can lead to better-tasting eggs and hens that are enjoyable to be around.