Preparing Chickens for Winter
Winter brings unique challenges to keeping a flock of chickens healthy and safe. Birds must have access to fresh drinking water. If your coop is near an electricity source, use an electric chicken waterer or place a deicing heating element in the chickens’ water containers to keep water available to them constantly.
If you don’t have the means to plug in an electric waterer, simply keep a spare waterer in the house and switch it out with the frozen one as often as needed.
Late autumn is a common time for chickens to go through their annual molt, which is when shedding and growth of new feathers occurs. This is the time to consider offering your chickens a high-density vitamin filled feed, or enhancing your current feed with vitamins and food supplements.
Although regular layer feed is all a mature flock probably needs yearround, some chicken keepers choose to add scratch to their birds’ diet during the winter. Scratch includes whole grains that help produce more body heat during digestion, providing a little more warmth as chickens roost overnight.
However, scratch should be used sparingly and provided only when it’s very cold.
Frostbite is always a threat to chickens' fleshy parts, such as combs, wattles on roosters, or feet. If you notice signs of frostbite — tips of the exposed flesh are blackened — apply petroleum jelly liberally to those fleshy parts.
Most importantly, monitor your chicken's behavior. If they are moving about and acting normally, they are fine.
Keep a healthy winter chicken coop
When temperatures plummet in winter, it’s imperative to provide your chickens with sufficient shelter from the weather. Even with cold temperatures, a henhouse must provide adequate ventilation.
6 ways to prevent poultry disease
Avian influenza (AI), or "bird flu," is a contagious disease that can infect all types of birds. All bird owners should be aware of the AI basics, what you can do to help prevent the disease, and the steps to take if you suspect your birds may have it.
Parasite precautions will keep your chickens healthy
If you own chickens, chances are that they have intestinal parasites, but it’s nothing to fret over — if you keep them in check. "The word 'parasite' should not be a big concern; they’re going to be there," says Dr. Gary Butcher, a veterinarian and professor of poultry diseases at the University of Florida.
Integrating new chickens into your flock
If you own chickens, you will occasionally want to add some new birds to your flock.
New chickens should be quarantined away from your existing flock for at least 30 days to guard against parasites and disease. New birds can carry disease into a flock even if they exhibit no outward signs of illness.
Stop your chickens from bullying one another
When hens peck or bully other chickens, this is a natural occurrence and a way that chickens establish dominance in their flock. Indeed, the term "pecking order," which means the hierarchy of authority in a group, originated from this fowl behavior.