Keeping your chickens fit and healthy through the winter months doesn’t have to be a painful task, with a little preparation and forethought this process can be accomplished with relative ease. When looking to prepare your chicken and their home there a few things that must be considered these include lighting, heating, ventilation and choice of food.
When to get prepared?
Is it ever too early to be prepared? That being said we recommend getting started by the start of October as the first frosts of winter can be potentially fatal to many of the less hardy breeds. Some of the best breeds of chick for cold climate include Ameraucanas, Black Giant, Buff Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks and Russian Orloff.
When the weather starts to worsen you will notice a dramatic decline in the number of eggs being produced by your hens, one great way of combating this problem is to install a light in the coop this can give the impression of longer daylight hours and in many cases keeps eggs coming all year round. It’s best to use a timer system when attempting this method as anything over 10 hours of daylight can disturb this hens sleep cycle.
The best light to use for the job is a simple 40watt bulb with reflector around 6 feet from the floor of the coop; this single bulb should be enough to provide adequate light for 180 square feet!
Here at the farm we use green house heaters in our main coop this give of low levels of steady heat that stop frost from reaching plants inside the greenhouse but they work in much the same way when it comes to chickens. Be warned overly warm coops interfere with the chicken’s ability withstand cold temperatures in the future.
When insulating the coop be sure to allow decent ventilation as without proper air flow condensation can build up leading to ammonia.
As autumn passes into winter it can be a good idea to start supplementing your chicken’s diet with a higher density vitamin enriched feed. These vitamins can helps hens when molting as well as improving their ability to cope with the cold weather.