Good winter chicken care

Chickens are fun, interesting and easy animals to keep. However, your chickens need a little more care in winter. The winter months, including freezing temperatures, can affect the health and well-being of your chickens if your coop is not prepared for cold weather. Here are some tips for good winter chicken care:

Prevent dehydration:

Install a small heat lamp over the chicken’s water source. Chickens need water just like dogs or cats, and adding a heat lamp prevents the water from freezing. Even in temperatures above freezing, a heat lamp creates a more attractive source of water.

Protect against drafts:

Spend some time in your coop and look for drafts. Use good construction techniques when building your chicken coop, and patch and insulate drafty areas, including around the floor.

Install a second heat lamp above the coop to ensure the chickens don’t freeze overnight. Chickens roost at night, so they wouldn’t benefit from the heat lamp you have over the water.

Add fat to chicken feed:

Birds need extra fat to maintain their body temperature in winter. Add a wild bird seed block that they can access. Or add a fatty seed like sunflower seeds to your daily diet.

Protection against predators:

When food supplies are tight for wild animals in winter, chickens need extra protection. Check your coop for loose areas of fencing. Add 2x4s around the outside to help prevent animals from digging under the pen. Make sure the chicken coop door has a locking latch for overnight stays.

Young chicks:

Chicks are much more vulnerable to cold. In fact, chicks need a 90 to 100 degree environment for their first week, gradually decreasing to about 75 degrees.

Consider adding young chicks or mature chickens to your flock until the colder winter months are over. You can also start with the chicks inside and wait until they are older to introduce them. This ensures they get off to a good start and also do better with older chicks if they are mature.

By implementing these simple tips, your chickens will be protected from the winter elements. Chickens are hardy animals and will do well even in sub-zero temperatures. By adding a few simple heat lamps, checking the coop for drafts, adding a greasy seed to the feed, and shielding the chickens from animals, you will have created a safer and more enjoyable winter for your chickens!