Whether you’re raising them for meat, eggs, or just for fun, it’s important for everybody who keeps backyard chickens to understand that it’s a year-round job! The health and happiness of your flock should always be your top priority, which means you need to know how to care for them in every season.
As a chicken owner, you are responsible for ensuring your animals have food, water, secure shelter, and stimulation throughout the year. Here are five tips to help you continue to do that successfully this winter!
1) Don’t Heat Your Coop
Heaters and heat lamps in your coop are a fire hazard, and your chickens don’t need them anyway. Your flock will huddle together for warmth. That, combined with their natural protective layer of feathers and plenty of bedding, will keep them cozy!
2) Use Petroleum Jelly to Protect from Frostbite
Chicken breeds with large combs and wattles are more likely to get frostbite. Although it only affects the tip of their combs and isn’t serious, it’s a good idea to coat their combs and wattles in a layer of petroleum jelly to keep in the heat.
3) Raise the Roost
To help your chickens stay warm, providing them with a comfortable roosting area is important. Ensure that the coop you have for your flock is spacious enough to accommodate all of them. The roost should be raised a few feet off the ground, as this will help keep your feathered friends warm. If you notice any chickens on the ground, it’s a sign that there isn’t enough room for everyone to roost comfortably.
4) Adjust Their Feed
Your chickens need to consume more calories in the colder months to have more energy to keep warm. Use a complete layer of feed to ensure they get enough nutrients and heated waterers to keep their water supply from freezing. Another trick you can use is feeding them cracked corn before bed so their bodies will digest throughout the night and keep them warmer.
5) Keep Your Chickens Active
There’s a reason they call it being “cooped up” when you’re stuck inside! Let your chickens walk outside if they want so they don’t get bored or cramped over the winter. You should also provide a little entertainment inside the coop—logs, a chicken swing, or toys to play with—to keep them moving.
Looking to upgrade your flock’s home before the winter weather fully sets in? Check out the prefab and custom-size chicken coops we offer at Deer Creek Structures! Our coops are built to be of the finest quality to withstand and protect your flock from all seasonal elements.