Get your chickens through the winter with these tips.
October 2022 was when temperatures started to drop in our neck of the woods. In the span of one week, we had 80 degree temps to 40 degree temps. Talk about chilly! But as the saying goes – if you don’t like the weather, just wait a week.
Unfortunately for my chickens, waiting a week wasn’t an option. Especially when one of them began limping around the run, unable to keep her head up.
As their keeper, your mind starts to race. Could this bird be battling an infection? Will other birds begin to fall ill? Will this be the year we lose our entire flock?
Before you begin your frantic Google searches, there are a few things you can do to support your flock when the temperature changes. Because while chickens may be able to deal with low temperatures, some birds can have life-threatening complications if not given a bit of help.
Prepare your Coop
In the winter, we are fans of the deep litter method.
It’s not uncommon for us to see temperatures dip well below freezing here in zone 6b. And with a wind chill, we saw temperatures at negative 27 degrees Fahrenheit December 2022!
Because we see such cold temperatures, and we don’t run electricity to our coop, we trust the deep litter method to keep the birds who prefer to roost low warm. Even on the days they don’t leave the coop, the extra, clean bedding we provide them is more than enough when combined with the warmth they already produce.
BONUS TIP – Consider the overall position of your coop and the size of your entrances. Our coop is surrounded on three sides by either a fence or trees and has a very small door. The end result? Wind buffers that have been organically built into our chicken’s living space.
Prepare your flock
Winter 2022 was the first winter we decided to incorporate vitamins in to our chicken’s water. So far, we haven’t seen anymore limping, lethargy or the like. The brand available to us was Durvet. You can find your own packages here on Amazon.
We also give at least a cup of whole kernel corn daily. The research we did found that whole kernel corn helps stimulate their digestive systems, literally warming them up from the extra energy their expending. The extra calories don’t hurt, either. On days where we have a negative windchill we rarely see our birds outside their coop. If they aren’t out, they aren’t eating. And thus the cycle to make sure they’re getting what they truly need begins.
Implementing things like vitamins and whole kernel corn shouldn’t be happening the day of a cold snap – it needs to happen a week or two prior. Begin layering that bedding. Begin adding vitamins to waterers. And if necessary, assess how you may need to change those plans in the event the weather takes a turn for the worst. Our first harsh winter with our chickens, we actually housed them in our garage for a week because they couldn’t escape negative 20 Fahrenheit windchill and sleet!
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. When harsh conditions threaten your flock, you must have a game plan to protect the life of your animals. Be a good steward.
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Do you miss then things were green and thriving? Revisit our fall 2022 harvest with me in this post. Since we’re stuck inside with snow on the ground, check out my Homemaking Page for ideas on organization, cooking and more.
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