We love chickens – they are such great characters – and the outdoor pet that gives back with a fresh egg every day. But just like any outdoor pet, they need our help to contend with all that the British weather might throw at them We’ve made it through a super-hot summer, so now let’s get those chooks ready for winter.
Chicken coops need to be adequately ventilated all year round so there’s no need to block all the holes in the house in a bid to keep your chickens warm. A good air flow is a must in order to reduce condensation on the walls and the ceiling causing cold and damp conditions. That being said, it’s time to repair the holes that will cause a draught, but do make sure that the warm air is able to leave the coop and fresh air is able to enter.
The Bedding and Litter
Don’t make the mistake of filling the house with straw as it can encourage fungal growth within the hutch, even if it looks clean to the eye. Shavings are far more suitable for creating insulation to avoid problems with respiratory illnesses affecting the chickens. Do use straw, enough to add insulation but don’t go overboard and remember to replace it frequently.
Cleaning the Coop
Mucking out can take place at least once a week for most of the year, but the frequency should be increased during winter, this is because chickens will often roost for longer and spend more time in their house, increasing the amount of mess and fouling inside. Spot cleaning each morning is useful and you might want to place newspaper below the perch so it can be removed and replaced daily without taking up too much of your time.
Feeding and Watering
Remember to disinfect the feeders and drinkers each week and rinse them well before drying and placing them back in place. Grit pots should also be checked and cleaned when they become soiled.
Chickens may eat more during the winter so some owners prefer to allow their chickens to free access to the feed. Another tip is to feed a handful of slow burning grain, such as corn, an hour before bed to help keep them warm throughout the night. The final tip is to take the drinkers into the coop each night to prevent them from freezing over in the night.