If you’re new to keeping chickens winter can be a confusing time. You may be asking yourself, “how will they stay warm?” and “will they keep laying eggs even with less sunlight?” or even, “how can I keep my chickens entertained?”
These are all valid questions. Winter brings in a lot of new variables to keeping chickens. There are brutally cold temperatures, a lot less natural sunlight and your chickens are often kept ‘cooped’ up in their house for extended periods of time. However, there’s no need to worry. Many people have kept their chicks happy and healthy through the cold season. With a few of these adjustments here and there, you’ll be ready for winter in no time.
Do you need a heater?
The simplest answer is no. With all the straw bedding in the coop, a heater could actually be a fire hazard! Also, chickens have a tendency to huddle together in cold conditions to stay warm. They will be fine with plenty of bedding and some ventilation.
Will they get enough light?
This question can be the most worrisome of new chicken keepers. It’s well known that chickens need an adequate amount of light to continue laying eggs normally. The less light they have, the less eggs they’ll lay. Fortunately, you can supplement light with an light system like this FarmerLED system
(side note: sometime too much light can stress out the birds or shorten their laying life, so keep that in mind when choosing to use and LED system)
How can you keep your chickens amused?
Like any other animal, entertainment and play is an important part of a healthy chicken life. When they’re cooped up (no pun intended) in their coops all day during winter, chances are they’re not being as active as they should be.
To give you chickens more space to play, a good option is to add a fenced in outdoor space to your chicken coop. This way the chickens can have some outdoor space without having to face the harsh winter conditions.
A popular chicken coop and outdoor space combo is the Pawhut chicken coop. This is a two in one hen house with lots of outdoor space to keep your chickens active.
Should you be feeding your chickens differently?
While it’s not completely necessary to feed your little ones any differently, a little extra padding for the cold is never a bad idea — or at least I tell myself that. Feeding your chickens a bit of corn and mealworm mix in the night gives their tummies something to digest while sleeping, which keeps them worm.
A corn and mealworm mix can be hard to find in everyday places, but this Pecking Order blend can be found here.
With this guide, you should be on your way to feeling more confident about keeping your chickens happy and healthy in the winter. Remember to supplement daylight, feed them well and don’t forget about their activity!