Since December is approaching, and that pretty much means most of us will be getting blasted with winter weather, you may be wondering how to care for your chickens when it gets cold outside. Chickens are pretty hearty birds and can withstand cooler temperatures if you provide them with enough to do and a strong place to say warmer and out of the wind. Here are some tips on How to Care for Chickens in the Winter.
How to Care for Chickens in the Winter
A heater is not necessary. You may think that your chickens will need one, but really, chickens are outdoor animals and fare much better than you might think in the cold temperatures. Running a heater is a fire risk and the bills for doing so can be outrageous.
Make sure to provide fresh water. Chickens, like most birds, need a lot of water to survive and produce eggs. Since water freezing in the winter can be an issue, I suggest getting a heated bowl (the kind used for outdoor dogs) and keeping an eye on the water level. This is a low cost way to make sure your chickens always have water available no matter what the temperature drops to outside. Also, do not allow your water to be left in the coop as it can be a moisture problem.
Watch for chicks. Baby chicks can require extra care in the winter, so make sure you watch for a potential hatching. If you see some, or you are trying to get some, make sure you have a setup inside for taking care of them once they hatch. This can be as simple as a heat lamp area.
Provide extra food and even treats for your chickens. Chickens often don't even want to leave their coop in the winter since they don't like snow or ice and can potentially get frost bitten if they do. This means you have bored chickens and heavy competition for food since it is scarce anyway. Make sure to provide extra food and treats for your chickens during the cold months so they have extra energy to stay warm as well.
Make sure they still have a place to scratch. Scratching is important to chickens and in the winter it can be hard to give them space to do this. One way is to build a run that is covered and protected from the wind. Make sure to keep the area clean and dry by covering with something as simple as a tarp or plastic.
Keep predators at bay. If you are not a city chicken farmer, but live in a more rural area, you might have issues with predators such as foxes. In the winter, this can be extra work to keep them away since predators are finding it harder and harder to find food and may come down into farmlands to do so. Do a quick once-over of your coop area to make sure it is secure.
Provide good ventilation. In the winter, the chickens will crowd in to stay warmer. You may have an issue with moisture and that can lead to sickness. Make sure to have plenty of ventilation on your coop to keep things dry inside.
Do you have any tips for caring for chickens in the winter? Let me know in the comments!