With the cold weather hitting us this week and icy, snowy conditions, its time we thought a little more about caring for our feathery friends. Winter can be a bit of a challenging time for chicken owners with dark mornings, short days and drop in egg production, take a look at some of our top tips for keeping chickens in winter!
Smearing Vaseline on combs can prevent chickens from getting frostbite, particularly if they have large floppy combs.
Cold weather means that other animals are hungry too. Ensure your feed is stored away safely so that rats and mice can't cant get to it. Also regularly check your coop security so that foxes cant get in.
Have some shelter in your chickens' run so that they are kept warm and dry - they don't like the wet and windy conditions just as much as us! You can simply cover the run with plastic sheets/tarpaulin against the windward side of their run.
Give your chickens extra corn in the late afternoon, as they digest this it will internally heat them up throughout the night.
Keeping their bedding deep is a great source of keeping them warm at night as they can become sheltered from any drafts. The bedding should be dry and chopped straw and wood shavings will keep them warm and soak up any moisture.
Chickens don't like snow! Their feet are not very well insulated so they do not like to walk on the snow.
You will see a decrease in egg laying, however not all of your birds will stop laying but you will see the daily output will be significantly less. You can either give the egg department a much needed rest after laying all summer so the muscles have time to re-cooperate or you can artificially keep them laying.
Hens need between 12 and 16 hours of daylight to lay which should be constant to keep them in a pattern. To provide light you can install lights on a timer and adjust every other week to what the natural light is at.
Adding light to your coop also increases temperature and they can catch light very easily so be cautious - a 40 watt bulb will be sufficient for a small coop.