A safe, dry house is essential if you’re going to have healthy hens, especially during the winter months. Depending on where you live you might need to make more preparations for winter than chicken keepers living in warmer climates.
For example, if you’re in the north of England or Scotland you might need to think about hen house heaters or heated water bowls for this winter.
If you live in the south of England you probably won’t need to resort to extra heat for your hens, but having a heated water bowl could save you having to break the ice every day.
Here are some other things that all chicken keepers, regardless of their location, need to do before the cold sets in.
Give your chicken house a good clean
Whether you’re planning on using a deep litter method during the winter or not it’s best to start the winter with a clean chicken house.
Clear all of the bedding out and give the house a good scrub with a pet safe disinfectant. Make sure you get in all the nooks and crannies!
It’s also a good idea to treat your house with a mite and lice product, even if your birds haven’t shown any sign of having an infestation.
Don’t forget your accessories
Now is the time to give all of your chicken house extras, such as perches, next boxes, grit tubs, and feeders, a really good clean. If anything is broken, or doesn’t come clean with a good scrub, it might be time to replace it.
When you’re done, give everything a good rinse and leave to dry in the sun whilst you clean the rest of the chicken house.
Check for wear and tear
If you’ve bought a good quality chicken house it should have a long working life with minimum maintenance, but it’s still a good idea to check your chicken house is up to the winter weather conditions.
Check your chickens, or pests, haven’t damaged the house and that all of the fixtures are in good working order. Do the doors close properly? Are any of the metal fittings rusty? Is the automatic door working? If you find anything that isn’t the way it should be, then now is the time to fix it.
Consider installing solar lighting
Many chicken keepers find that their hens’ egg production reduces, or even stop completely, during the winter months.
This is perfectly natural and when the spring comes around again your hens should start laying. However, if you don’t want to find yourself needing to buy supermarket eggs then you could install a solar lighting kit in your chicken house to give your flock the amount of light they need to continue laying.
Make sure your run is up to scratch
Many chicken keepers prefer to restrict their hens to a run during the winter months to limit the damage done to the garden or field. If you only use a run during the winter then it’s important to check it’s still safe and secure after being stored for the summer.
Just as with your chicken house, give it a good clean and check the wire, wood, and any metal fittings. You might also want to add extra layers of wire to make it harder for hungry predators to get to your flock.
Stock up on bedding and feed
Long nights and difficult weather conditions can make it harder to get your poultry essentials. If you’ve got a dry, vermin free space it’s a good idea to stock up on bedding and feed so you don’t find yourself in a fix if weather conditions stop you getting to the pet shop.