All you ever wanted to know about chicken winter care is right here.
Come wintertime, we start thinking about toasty & cozy ways to stay warm. Hot chocolate, fuzzy blankets, staying toasty by the fireplace… you name it. But this is actually easier for us as humans than for our poor backyard chickens. Since hens, roosters, and chicks can’t really roast chestnuts by the fireplace, how can you keep your chickens warm this winter?
Why Is Chicken Winter Care Important?
Chicken winter care is important because just as you need different types of clothing and lots of extra layers to deal with chilly wind and snow, your flock may need you to change a few things around to help them stay warm and comfortable inside their coop.
5 Chicken Winter Care Tips
Here are 5 tips to ensure you’re keeping your chickens warm this winter:
1. Say No To Heaters
Your chickens – unlike you – don’t need a heater inside their house in order to stay warm. This is because of two reasons. The first reason is that heaters inside the coop are a huge fire hazard, so it’s best to avoid them. The second is that your flock already has the best insulation material available: their feathers! According to this article by The Happy Chicken Coop, when your chickens fluff out their feathers, “they create a layer of warmed air against the body of the bird, effectively a small cocoon of heat.
As long as the bird is out of blowing winds and chilly drafts, these layers of insulation will keep the bird quite toasty and warm down to about -20F.” This means that all your hens need to do is fluff out their feathers and huddle close to each other to stay nice and warm.
2. Say Yes To Deep Litter
Deep litter is a method in which you allow bedding material and chicken droppings to build up inside the coop during the spring, summer, and fall. This “litter” material will provide around a foot of composting material that will give off heat and will warm up the coop naturally. Though be warned – it’s going to be stinky. But your chickens won’t mind the smell.
3. Keep Their Water From Freezing
Even though you don’t need a heater inside the coop, we do recommend ensuring that your chickens’ water supply doesn’t freeze. After all, you’ll just end up with a very dehydrated flock. To avoid this, we highly recommend installing a drinker heater base for waterer founts, which will provide a steady continual warmth to ensure the water stays at the correct temperature and neither freezes nor gets too hot.
4. Watch Their Protein Intake
Well-fed chickens are happy chickens. During the cold winter months, it’s a good idea to provide treats that are high in protein to make sure your chickens have everything they need to stay warm by themselves. The Scratch and Peck Feeds® Cluckin’ Good Organic Scratch n’ Corn is an excellent treat choice during cold weather seasons because it helps provide additional energy through grains and oils. Also, corn is an easily digestible carbohydrate that can help your birds generate energy and thus, stay warm!
5. Automatic Doors Are Your Best Friend
We’ve already discussed all the differences between manual and automatic chicken coop doors in this article, but this time we’re going to explain why an automatic door can be extremely helpful during winter. Automatic chicken coop doors will be a huge help to you as a chicken keeper since you won’t have to go out into the snow in order to let your chickens out in the wee hours of the morning and again in the afternoon in order to let them back in for the night. Having an automatic door will also help keep your chickens’ coop free of drafts and chilly winds, which is a key component of chicken winter care.
These are our basic tips for taking care of your chickens during the cold winter months. In general, your chickens will do what feels best for them. Sometimes they’ll want to go out into the snow, and sometimes they’ll just want to stay cooped up inside. The good thing about your flock is that chickens are hardy birds, so winter care may go smoother than you previously thought if you prepare with enough time and make sure your chickens have everything they need to stay warm all by their fluffy selves.