We have snow in the forecast for the next few days, so today I made sure our flock is set and ready for the cold winter weather. In general we don’t do a whole lot to change their environment as their body temperatures keep each other warm enough. But…
There are 3 important things to know:
1)WATER: Make sure there is always fresh clean water and the water doesn’t freeze -you can buy heated water dishes (left pic) or heaters that go inside your waterer (right pic) from most pet supply retailers or feed stores – it is a great investment and usually costs anywhere from $20-40:
2)FOOD: Make sure your chickens have full crops when they go to bed at night so they can digest as they sleep. Chickens may need more calories than they would in warmer months – Martha Stewart uses wild bird seed for the extra fat!
3) WARMTH -While chickens are hardy birds, make sure they can roosts away from any drafts of cold air, but don’t restrict ventilation too much otherwise dust and airborne particles, moisture and ammonia from manure can be dangerous to a chicken’s respiratory systems. Heating a coop may not be necessary unless the temperatures stay well below freezing for a long period of time – we use a typical light bulb on a timer and that works just fine. Adding extra bedding is a great way to add insulation and as it breaks down it gives off heat.
Also, certain breeds handle colder temperatures better than others, with Rhode Island Red, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Brahma, Wyandotte being among the some of the colder climate breeds.