Every year our spoiled chickens have us get their ‘house’ ready for the winter. Here are a couple important things that they have us do:
As soon as the weather starts to get below 32 degrees, the first thing we do is get out the water heater. Water is very important to chickens. If they go without it for even one day, their egg production will stop and they could die. We plug our water heater into an electrical outlet placed in the coop.
It is necessary to keep good ventilation in the coop, while still keeping some heat. Usually we have to put plexi-glass over half of the window to allow for good ventilation and still keep in warmth.
In the winter, when the days are shorter we have to set a timer to make the light go off early in the morning. Chickens need 16-18 hours of light to lay. We set ours to turn on around 5:00am and go off at 8:00am.
We have to check eggs quite frequently in cold weather because if there is no hen sitting on them they could freeze. If they do freeze, we just leave out on the counter and let it unthaw.
Chickens need extra protein during the winter to help them still lay good and keep warm. Every morning we give them a cup of sunflower seeds. Now, if we don’t give them their sunflowers seeds, they start causing a ruckus!
When it snows out the wind blows the snow into the enclosure and over the ramp leading to the coop. Some chickens don’t like to get their feet cold so they won’t come out of the coop. Last year we put up plastic over half of the north side. It helped a lot and we plan on doing it this year too.
Of course, our spoiled chickens need entertainment during those long winter months, so here’s what we do:
Chickens love pine needles, not the short ones, but the long ones. So, every year we find a nice small pine tree and pot it and put it in the enclosure. Usually by Christmas all the lower pine branches are stripped clean.
In the enclosure we hang a suet cage. We fill the suet cage with old bread, lettuce, and any other table scraps that fit. Sometimes, as a special treat, we buy them a real suet cake, they love that!
Also, hanging in the enclosure is a chicken toy. Basically, it is a round ball that you can put sunflower seeds and mealworms in, and they have to peck at it and some dispenses. Unfortunately, one of our chicken figured out how to peck it and crack it open, thus getting all the seeds at one time. When she left (we gave her to someone else), all the other chickens were trying to figure out how to crack the case. Eventually, our detective, Flint, figured out how to crack it open.
Every Friday the chickens get two bowls of oatmeal. Not just any old oatmeal though. This oatmeal is doctored up with 1 drop of oregano oil per bowl, 1-2 cloves of garlic, and a tablespoon of yogurt. They love it!! The potions in the oatmeal help keep up egg production, fight away parasites and worms, and helps with feather growth.
Our chickens get to celebrate Christmas just like we do. Every one has their own stocking with their name tag on it. Every Christmas they get some sort of special treat: sunflower seeds mixed with dried mealworms and popcorn.
Also, a few special chickens get sled rides in the woods. Flint especially loves it and snuggles right into her blanket to enjoy the ride!
Have a good week and pray for snow!