Chickens are fun, family-friendly animals that provide us with delicious eggs and endless entertainment. Keeping chickens in winter in your backyard is very rewarding, but as anyone who’s kept chickens for a while will tell you, they need a little (a lot) of steering in order to keep them safe and healthy all year round.
Winter brings the cold and with it a whole host of chicken care duties. While here in Central Texas we don’t usually have to worry about freezing temps and snow, we still need to make some preparations to keep chickens happy, healthy, and safe all winter long.
And, fingers crossed that we don’t have another winter like the 2020 winter. We do not need ice or snow taking out the power again.
Here is a quick guide to preparing chickens for winter:
Nobody likes a cold, drafty house — and that includes chickens! Check your chicken coop for holes, rotted areas, or framework that’s starting to split. Most repairs can be simply done with patchwork but start the process early in the season so you don’t have any surprises!
Speaking of drafts, make sure your chicken coop is properly ventilated up high near the roof to encourage good airflow.
Use the Deep Bedding Method
A deep bedding method (also called a deep litter method) creates a layer of compost on the coop floor that provides extra insulation and generates heat to keep your chickens cozy all winter long. The basic process is to layer bedding and mix it with the chicken poo throughout the year, adding more bedding as needed. Come winter, you’ve got a deep layer of composted bedding that your chickens will love.
Check that the Door Closes
Chickens like to wander – trust me, I know this all too well – but it’s important to keep chickens snug in their coops during the winter. A well-sealed coop with a properly closing door will keep the cold out and your chickens in and away from bad weather. Plus, wild animals are always looking for dinner, especially in winter! Our chicken coops are expertly crafted in a controlled environment and most fully-assembled models are ready to deliver within a couple weeks. Check them out!
Have questions about chicken coops? Check out our Chicken Coop FAQ.
Adjust their Feed
Chickens need to eat more in the winter to keep warm so adjust their feed to include more high-quality feed and add some yummy treats, too. While we humans may love a good pumpkin roll or Christmas cookie (ahem, or three), your chickens will appreciate cracked corn, oatmeal, squash, and mealworms for some extra protein.
Keep them Entertained
Since they’re going to be cooped up in their, er, coop, chickens still need to have some fun and exercise. String a head of cabbage in their chicken run for a great, nutritious toy. Scatter cracked corn or FlockBock for hours of endless entertainment.
As a quick note, your chickens may not lay as many eggs or lay any at all in the winter. That’s ok! Shorter days means less sunlight which means fewer eggs. If you feel safe and comfortable, add supplemental light to encourage egg production. But honestly, it’s just part of the cycle of the season.
Are you ready to winterize your coop? Let us know how we can help! In addition to selling high-quality coops here at Farm+Yard, many of us currently have or grew up with chickens and are happy to share a few pointers.
Give us a call at 254-537-1013 or click here to schedule a free yard evaluation to discuss your chicken coop needs.