6 Ways to Prepare for Raising Chickens in Winter
A Guide to Chicken Care in Fall and Winter
As winter is soon to set in, fall is useful for making some necessary preparations. Raising chickens in winter has its challenges, but these six tips for fall flock preparation will help your chickens get through the colder months in good health.
It’s a good idea to rid your fowl of internal and external parasites now, so they’re free going into the winter. There will usually be little or no trouble with parasites in cold winters if your birds and facilities are clean. So it’s also a good idea to dust or spray the housing with an insecticide.
2. Clean Up
Fall is a great time to show your chicken coop and run some TLC. For those who believe a deep litter method offers the best bedding for chickens, it’s good to clean it out periodically; about twice a year. So fall is a great time for that. And you can spray and dust the coop while you’re at it in accordance with the step above. Some people don’t use bedding in their coop, but in winter the birds will definitely appreciate it. Here are some great tips on how to clean a chicken coop.
In summer it’s good to open everything up as much as possible to let the fresh air and sun in. We still want that in winter, the fresh air and sun, but we’re going to compromise a little to exclude winds and drafts. So close up anything that will cause a problem in that respect, while still leaving some ventilation.
Winter cold is a stressful time for the birds. You want them going in with strong immune systems and keeping it up throughout the winter. Good options are herbs and herbal teas and maybe some probiotics. Garlic, hot pepper, nasturtiums, apple cider vinegar, culinary herbs (and more) are popular choices.
Sustaining proper nutrition is as important now as it ever was, but those “treats” that you usually used sparingly can increase in winter as high-energy, warming and fatting foods. Two popular answers to what can chickens eat as a treat are corn and sunflower seeds. A scratch grain, or bird feed, high in these ingredients is ideal. Fed in the evening, the birds will stay warmer through the night. And fed in the morning, scattered on the ground, it will keep the birds occupied and exercising while scratching around for it. You still don’t want to overdo it, to make sure they get their needed nutrition from their regular feed. Also keep in mind that the birds will, and need to, eat more in the cold of winter.
It’s always a good idea to let your birds out to roam when possible, even in winter, although they don’t like snow, the cold won’t stop them. For birds in confinement, any type of entertainment will be beneficial to keep them from just sitting around mourning the cold. Hay to peck and scratch in is always welcome, kitchen scraps, greens, bugs, new and interesting items like mirrors or roosting bars, and anything else you can think of will be appreciated and help greatly in getting them through the dreary days of winter up ahead.
What tips would you add to the list for raising chickens in winter?