Anyone who owns chickens knows that these birds are surprisingly resilient creatures. However, like all animals, your chickens can have a hard time if you leave them out in the cold. While winter might mean less chores in and around your coop, you should still take the time to make sure your flock can handle the cold temperatures. From keeping a warm coop to looking out for signs of frostbite and other trouble, here’s our guide on how to care for your backyard chickens this winter.
Winterproof the Coop
Just as you prepare your own home for the frigid weather, you also need to make sure your coop is ready for the season. No one wants to spend winter in a drafty, leaking home. Walk around the coop and look for any problems that might have developed over the year. Patch holes and make repairs as you go. Pay special attention to the foundation of your coop. Rodents and other small creatures will burrow in at any opportunity, so make sure you don’t give them an opening. While you’re working on the coop, make sure to leave room for adequate ventilation. Too much insulation can lead to higher levels of humidity and moisture buildup, which can cause mold, diseases, and other problems down the line.
Just like every other season, hydration is a key part of how to care for your backyard chickens this winter. Unfortunately, freezing temperatures can cause your flock’s water supply to turn to ice, preventing them from drinking. Consider investing in a heated water system that won’t freeze during cold snaps. You should also move any waterers out of the coop during winter. A reckless spill can lead to wet or frozen bedding, which is both uncomfortable and unsafe for your hens.
Did you know that chickens can get frostbite too? Just like humans, chickens’ extremities—particularly feet, combs, and wattles—are susceptible to the cold weather. Before the winter weather hits, make sure you know how to prevent frostbite in your flock. Keep in mind that some breeds are more at risk than others. However, all chickens can get frostbite if you’re not careful. Check on your birds and keep the coop warm, and you should all be able to enjoy a cozy winter no matter how cold it gets.