Backyard Chicken Winter Care Tips

by Caitlyn Andrews February 04, 2016

Winter Health Care for Backyard Chickens

Winter weather can bring challenges to many backyard chicken hobbyists. You may be wondering how you can keep your flock happy and healthy during the cold winter months. Follow these simple strategies this winter to keep your hens safe and productive. Here are some tips to help you with your chickens:

1. Food and Water

Feed: Chickens will often adjust their consumption rate of feed based on the temperature. Consider allowing your flock free-choice access to feed this winter to ensure they are getting enough to eat. If you feed outside be sure to bring the feed inside at night to keep rodents and other animals away. You can also offer your birds a high energy feed such as corn or sunflower to help them manage the colder nights of winter. Your hens will need more calories in the winter to help them stay warm and maintain egg production.

Water: Chickens, like any other animal, need a consistent source of water. In the winter when water freezes be sure to refill your birds' water throughout the day. If you use plastic buckets for water, consider using aluminum or rubber buckets during the winter. Plastic has a tendency to crack when water freezes and expands. If you aren't able to consistently refill water to keep it from sitting frozen, consider getting heated waterers for the winter.

2. Chicken Coop

Lighting: Keeping your coop lit with supplemental lighting can increase winter egg production. Using a timer will ensure the light is on at a set time every day. You don't have to worry about forgetting to turn the lights on or off.

Ventilation: A well-ventilated coop will keep your chickens healthy during the winter. Windows should be closed, though. You don't want drafts in your chicken coop. Coops without good ventilation can trap excess moisture, leading to mold and respiratory issues for your birds.

Bedding: Keep a thick layer of bedding in your chicken coop during the winter. The bedding can be up to a foot thick. This will help insulate the coop. Turn the bedding weekly and add bedding as needed.

3. Active Chickens

There's a reason for the expression of feeling "cooped up". Chickens get bored, too. Being cooped up all winter in their shelter can lead to bored and unhealthy birds. Let them out in their run as much as possible. You can scatter seeds to give your birds a chance to scratch for their food. Add straw or wood chips to the birds' run area to allow them to forage for any bugs that might live underneath. Keep your chickens as active as you can during the winter to help them thrive.

RememberBiosecurity is important for backyard flocks, too! Keep them safe from avian influenza with our biosecurity tips.

Caitlyn Andrews
Caitlyn Andrews


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