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 farmer, it is your responsibility to ensure your chickens have food, water, secure shelter, and stimulation throughout the year. Here are a few tips to help you continue to do that successfully when winter hits!
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 stay warm, chickens will roost and puff out their feathers. Make sure you invest in a coop that’s large enough for your entire flock to roost comfortably. Your roost should be raised a few feet off the ground to help them stay warm as well. If you see a chicken on the ground, there’s not enough room.
4) Adjust their feed.
Your chickens need to consume more calories in the colder months, so they have more energy to keep warm. Use a complete layer feed to ensure they’re getting 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 the finest quality so they can withstand and protect your flock from all of the seasonal elements.
Contact our team to learn more about the standard features of our pre-built options or start building your custom coop today!