If you’re new to raising chickens, winter can be a scary time. You may be wondering if your chickens are warm enough or if they will keep laying eggs. However, taking care of your chickens in the winter isn’t as hard as you think. Of course, you want to maintain your chicken coop all year round, but you can take extra steps to enhance your chickens’ experience. Let’s learn how to prepare your chickens for winter.
6 Steps for Ensuring Your Chickens Get Through the Winter
- Use deep litter to keep them warm. Using deep litter is a way to allow bedding material and chicken poop to build up through the spring, summer, and fall so that, by winter, you have roughly a foot of composting material on the floor of the coop. The composting material will give off heat, warming the coop naturally.
- Provide supplemental light. Some birds lay eggs right through the winter, but in general, supplemental light is required if you want your birds to keep laying eggs. Many chickens don’t lay eggs during the shortened daylight hours. Supplemental light will lengthen the day for your chickens and keep them happy and laying eggs.
- Feed your chickens at night. A nice feeding of cracked corn before bed gives the chickens something to digest during the night, keeping them warmer.
- Protect against frostbite. In the coldest winter climates, you may find that breeds with large combs and wattles are prone to frostbite. To protect them, you can smear petroleum jelly on their combs and wattles. If your chickens do get frostbite, it’s usually nothing serious. It may look bad, but they’ll be okay.
- Build a sunroom. If your chickens are a little snug in the coop, a sunroom is a nice winter addition. The chickens can spread out a little, get some fresh air, and get exposure to sun without the elements.
- Give them room to roost. Chickens will roost together and fluff themselves out. This keeps them warm and off the cold ground. Make sure you have enough space for all your chickens. If a few are roosting on the ground at night, then there isn’t enough space. There should be space for all.
With a little preparation, you can keep your chickens warm and happy through the cold winter. Remember, chickens don’t need heat—they huddle together for warmth. So don’t be tempted to just put a heater in the coop. Knowing how to prepare chickens for winter is easier than you think!