Once you've taken the necessary steps to winterize your coop – and begin the process of protecting your chickens for the cooler months ahead – you can now shift your focus to the daily care for your flock.
Your duties will change as winter conditions occur and temperatures begin to drop. What needs to be done, and how does your daily routine vary? Here are 5 things to do in the winter months.
1. Maintain a Clean Coop
Your chickens spend more time in the coop during the winter than they do in the summer. It's important to maintain a clean and dry coop to keep your flock healthy throughout the year.
Clean the coop often in the winter and implement a deep bedding method (6" or more of pine shavings) on the bottom of the coop. Your chickens will dig and repeatedly turn over the bedding, keeping it fairly fresh. Plus, it composts everything at the same time.
2. Collect Eggs More Often
With frigid temperatures outside, try to collect eggs soon after they are laid to prevent them from freezing. Check the nesting boxes twice each day, especially when outside temperatures are below freezing level, and even if the coop is heated.
3. Provide Plenty of Food & Water
Your chickens will need fresh water and plenty of food during the winter months to keep them warm, healthy, and productive. Plus, they will probably eat more during the winter months as well.
We recommend whole grains, such as scratch, be added to the chickens’ diet because whole grains raise the body temperature and will help keep the birds warm at night.
4. Keep Water Ice-Free
Keep their water free of ice by changing it a few times each day. Depending on your personal preference and coop setup, there are multiple heated water or de-icer options which include hanging nipple waterers, metal heat pads, plastic heated waterers, and drop-in heaters for water buckets or dishes.
5. Remove Snow
It is also a good idea to remove snow from around the coop and shovel off the top of the coop depending on the amount of snowfall. Keep the run shoveled out as well to safeguard the chickens from having to walk in piles of snow.
Overall, always make sure you're keeping up with what your flock needs. As the months change, so do the demands of your chickens. Work these 5 tips into your daily routine this winter to ensure your flock remains happy and healthy through the cold months.
Visit your local IFA Country Store for additional advice and to find everything you need for your chickens this winter.
Information for this article was provided by Maureen Goodrich, Logan IFA Country Store; Sandie Shupe, Poultry, Rabbit and Animal Health Manager, Ogden IFA Country Store; and Jill Singleton, Bagged Feed Category Manager, IFA.