Right between the end of summer and the beginning of fall is the perfect time to learn how to take proper care of your chickens this upcoming winter season. We’re here to offer 7 expert tips on what you can do to take the best care of chickens in winter.
Know Your Breed
One of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to keeping chickens during the colder months of the year is that some breeds do better than others. Chickens of a medium to large weight, meaning those that are at least six pounds, have the small combs necessary to offer them sufficient protection from the bitter cold. Specific breeds with this advantageous feature include:
- Black Giant
- Rhode Island Red
- Speckled Sussex
- Plymouth Rocks
Pay Special Attention to Chicks
Chicks growing during the winter require especially close attention if they’re to survive. Loud peeping and huddling means they’re in need of warmth. If your coop has a red heat light, lower it to warm your chicks up; just make sure they don’t get too warm. Additionally, baby birds should have plenty of insulation to walk on and live in an area that isn’t exposed to drafts.
Use a Lightbulb to Keep Egg Production Going
While egg production will undoubtedly slow during the winter, it doesn’t have to grind to a halt. Let your chickens molt as they normally do, then use a lightbulb to extend daylight hours; just make sure your chickens aren’t overstimulated with an abundance of light.
Don’t Keep the Coop Too Warm
One common mistake when raising chickens in the winter is keeping them too warm. While they might not seem like it, chicken winter breeds are more comfortable at low temperatures than you might think. Keeping a heater or light constantly going runs the risk of a fire, and you don’t want your chickens to be too used to the warmth in case they suddenly lose it due to a power outage.
Go Easy on the Insulation
On a related note, be sure your chicken coop isn’t too well insulated. If it is, the trapped humidity could cause frostbite. There’s also the danger of too much trapped ammonia gas from their droppings.
Use Caution With Additional Heating
For those times when you absolutely have to resort to extra heat, either a ceramic bulb or a 60- to 100-watt lightbulb will serve you better than a standard heat lamp. Not only that, the bulbs are less of a fire risk than an actual heat lamp.
Pay Attention to Your Chicken’s Water Supply
As you’re checking to ensure your chickens are warm, make sure their water supply hasn’t frozen over. Break up ice that forms over the water, and be sure you change the water supply often. You might also like the idea of investing in a heated bucket.
Raising healthy chickens in winter is made easier when you’re pointed in the right direction. Keep these tips in mind as the mercury starts to plummet to keep your birds happy, warm and healthy.
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