Chickens are usually fairly hardy creatures and shouldn’t require a lot of human intervention to continue to thrive in the winter months. However, as temperatures drop and snow falls across the country there some things you can do to make your flock more comfortable this winter.
Like many poultry keepers you might find that your birds shut up shop in the winter and don’t lay eggs. This is perfectly normal so unless your chicken looks unwell you don’t need to worry.
Although your chickens might not be giving you anything in return for your hard work it’s important not to let care standards drop in the winter. Keeping them in tip top condition will ensure that they start their new laying period raring to go.
So, here’s how to look after chickens in the snow:
Generally speaking chickens don’t mind the cold, what they do mind however is draughts, wind, and rain – particularly if they haven’t got any shelter.
Houses should be waterproof, draught free, and with ventilation above head height. Ventilation is vital, as tempting as it can be to block all ventilation holes this can cause frostbite as any moisture in the coop freezes over night.
If your chicken house is usually in an exposed area of the garden it might also be worth trying to find a more protected place for it to live in the winter.
A thicker layer of bedding will also make your birds happy but remember the house still needs to be cleaned out regularly to prevent mould, bacteria, and fungal growth making your birds sick.
How often should your clean your chickens out?
We recommend at least a weekly deep clean that involves removing all bedding, allowing the house to air, and checking for any general wear and tear.
If you do have quite a thick covering of snow you might find your chickens prefer to stay indoors rather than get cold feet. If they do opt to stay in their coop then you will need to clean it more often.
Providing your flock with fresh, clean water will probably be your biggest challenge during snowy weather. Drinkers tend to freeze or fill up with snow quickly so you’ll need to think of a solution to the problem before it happens.
Here are our top tips:
On very cold days check the water as many times as you can throughout the day
Remove drinkers at night and empty the water – it’s easier to refill a drinker daily than to defrost one
Move the drinker to a more sheltered spot
You may also want to consider investing in a heated drinker if you live in a part of the UK that is prone to extremely cold weather and snow.
Food for thought
In terms of feed your flock shouldn’t need anything different – although you may want to feed them more. They’ll also appreciate a warm mash on colder days and a few handfuls of corn before bedtime to keep them warm overnight.