Dec 05 , 2019
As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, it's time to start getting our chicken coops ready for the approaching winter. Here are our best tips on how to keep your chickens safe, healthy, and warm at night.
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First Things First
We all experience winters differently. Some climates are frigid and dry, others are cold and wet. Some are long and dreary, while others only have a short few weeks of Winter weather. Regardless, we should all take some time to protect our girls and get their coops ready for the season.
We don't suggest using supplemental heat lamps. Chickens are surprisingly adept at keeping warm in very cold temps, even when molting. If a heat lamp fails on a cold night from a bad bulb or power outage, the temperature will plummet, and that sudden change can be deadly. Heat lamps are also a fire hazard, and we don't suggest taking that chance.
Step 1: Prepare
The first step is to clean, and clean everything! We suggest doing this on a warm, sunny, dry day. Listen to some great music while you work!
You'll want to replace your bedding, but this isn't the time to just add more. Pull all the old, dirty bedding out. If there are any caked spots like under roosts or in corners, work them loose and get them out of there. Scrape down any yucky places. Go in with a scrub brush and clean your roosts, walls, and nest boxes. Take down any cobwebs. While your coop is empty and drying, inspect the corners for rodent holes. Patch and fill them wherever needed. Once your coop is dry, put in new bedding. It's best to add a little more than normal through the winter.
If you use the Deep Litter method (LINK), leave your bedding as it is! It produces a natural heat from the composting materials that is great for your girls through the winter. Just make sure you continue to turn it and maintain it as you have been. We do still suggest scrubbing your walls, roosts, and nest boxes, but take care not to introduce too much water to the environment.
Step 2: Winterize
Check the integrity of your walls for drafty spots. Chickens can keep warm very well on their own in still air, but a draft or breeze can spell trouble. If you have a lot of hardware cloth or chicken wire, consider covering it with plexiglass, FRP panels, or a plastic tarp.
Make sure you have adequate ventilation at the top of your coop. Without ventilation, the coop will retain too much moisture and cause them to chill and their combs more prone to frostbite.
We do suggest placing a heated waterer in a safe place so your chickens always have access to fresh water.
Step 3: Maintain
Make sure you are well-stocked on chicken feed just in case there is an emergency. Store it in a dry place away from critters.
When you follow these suggestions, to keep your coop dry and free of drafts, you'll make it easy for your chickens to do what they do naturally.
Have these tips helped you? What more do you have to add? We'd love to hear from you!