Winter can be a difficult time of year for both chickens and their flock keepers.
What with frozen water, billowing wind and snow; it can really be a miserable time. Perhaps one of the most difficult things during winter is the warm; or lack of it!
So in today’s article we are going to focus on 4 ways you can keep your chickens warm during the winter.
Step 1: Insulate The Coop
The first thing you need to do is add insulation to the coop. There are a few ways to do this; the easiest way is to use Styrofoam boards. However you can use a variety of other things such as straw bales, mud bricks or more wood.
My favorite is the Styrofoam because it is very easy to fit and provides a lot of bang for your buck. You don’t need to insulate everywhere in the coop, but the roof and walls would make a good start. Just make sure you cover the Styrofoam with something afterwards otherwise your chickens might start to peck at it and this can be toxic for them.
Step 2: Use A Heater
After providing your coop with insulation you might still find that the thermometer is still plummeting to unreasonable levels inside your coop. Whilst this is unlikely further south, up north in areas such as Maine and Washington it is a possibility.
If this is happening to your flock then you have a few choices. You can either bring your chickens inside to keep them warm (not really advisable as it can get messy), or you can heat your coop. If you’re looking into coop heaters, you can find out more at The Happy Chicken Coop.
Step 3: Feed Them Warm
Have you ever thought about what you feed your chickens and how that impacts their digestive system and warm? The food which you give your chickens can impact their digestive system and this in turn can make them warmer or colder. A simple and cheap food you can use to your advantage is scratch.
Scratch is a mix of cracked grains; normally corn.
When you feed them scratch it takes a few hours to reach their digestive system. When it does it causes their digestive system to get to work and as a by-product produces some heat. I like to give them the scratch as a treat just before they enter the coop. Please make sure to clean up any reaming scratch because this will attract vermin; a big no-no.
Step 4: Prevent Against Frostbite
Even if you are keeping your chickens warm using the three tips shared above they are still at risk of getting frostbite during the winter.
You don’t have to worry too much about most hens because they generally have small combs which means there is less area to heat and as a result less change of them getting frostbite. However if you have roosters they tend to have large combs which can get frostbite quite easily. To help prevent against frostbite take some petroleum jelly and spread it on their comb to protect it. You can read more about frostbite right here!
We hope these four tips help to keep your chickens warm this winter!