Considerations for Winter Shelter
Unless we have an extreme winter in 2017, your chickens don’t need to live in an insulated house. However, they do need shelter that is draft-free and out of the wind. Keep in mind that shelter shouldn’t be all damp. Manure contains large amounts of water that can create unhealthy air when the coop is closed in the winter. Good ventilation is essential, so be certain to install vents high on the roof. Shoveling the coop weekly and placing fresh pine shavings ensures that your chickens remain as comfortable as possible.
You may want to avoid putting in a heat lamp because it’s not good for your chickens to go from one temperature extreme to another. With a heat lamp present, they tend to huddle near it for warmth and then get very cold when they move away from it to roost or eat. Try to keep the coop as sunny and bright as you can. Your chickens will naturally huddle up together to stay warm at night. We recommend keeping the coop closed and heated from a source other than a heat lamp.
Keep Your Chickens High and Dry
Since chickens’ feathers don’t shed water, it’s important that you keep them dry during the winter. They can perish from getting too wet or damp or standing in mud. If your chicken has a big comb, it increases the risk of frostbite. You can prevent this by applying Vaseline when you know the temperature is going to drop significantly. Should your run get muddy, dump a few bags of coarse sand over it. Providing your chickens with small logs to stand on is another way to ensure they remain dry.
Chickens don’t like walking on snow or ice due to their bare, scaly feet. Be sure to clear an area for them in their run if the snow or ice gets too deep. Lastly, make sure your chickens have access to clean, fresh water this winter. If you don’t want to run the risk of the water freezing, you may want to invest in a base heater for the waterer.
Please contact us at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo if you have additional questions about chicken care during the winter.