Winter for any animal can present its challenges and it’s no different for chickens and the keepers of chickens. Providing the optimum conditions for your flock is essential and whilst they may not be laying at this point of the year effort still needs to be invested in their upkeep so they can start the new laying period in prime condition. Here’s 10 tips to help when you are out and about with your flock
1. Ventilation in the house is essential for your poultry throughout the year so don’t be tempted to block up every hole in the house in the belief it will keep the birds warm when the wild weather comes along.
2. Bedding and litter should be of an adequate depth to provide a level of insulation but don’t be tempted to stuff the house full of straw thinking it will create a cosy house.
3. Mucking out should be at least a weekly task but during the winter due to the birds spending longer in the house (and therefore fouling the litter more). To help try a quick spot of ‘poo picking’ each morning or place a sheet of newspaper under the perch that can be removed when you let the birds out each day.
4. Try to keep the entrance to the house dry or free from standing water or mud. A couple of old pallets in front of the pop hole might look unsightly but they will help.
5. Dampness can occur on the floor of the chicken houses despite your best efforts so winter is a good time to invest in a powder type disinfectant such as Stalosan F.
6. Disinfecting the feeders and drinkers on a weekly basis is advisable now as they will be getting dirtier due to the wetter weather.
7. It’s worth considering giving your chickens free access to feed during the day as opposed to measuring out a specific amount. This is because their consumption rate will vary depending on how cold the weather is, they will manage this accordingly.
8. A handful of corn or other ‘slow burn’ grain per bird given as a scratch feed an hour or so before they go into roost will provide some extra energy to keep the birds warm during the night.
9. Bring drinkers indoors at night or empty them completely. Its far easier to fill an empty drinker in the morning than wander around with a kettle of boiling water trying to defrost a solid drinker
10. Check the drinkers regularly during the day or keep them in a frost free place. Chickens will drink a significant amount of water even in cold weather.