After several years of owning our chickens it has mostly been trial and error. Suburban chickens are easy to care for in the winter with a few adjustments.
Adjustments in food, heating areas, shelter from cold weather and a change in diet have helped. Mastering the learning curve has helped our chickens to continuously lay eggs.
Moving from warmer weather to colder weather is about preparation. Knowing what your chickens need and attending to those needs will allow for a healthy livestock.
Straw is the first way to chickens warm in the winter. As the weather turns colder we purchase several bales of straw for them. Straw is placed in heaps around the chicken coop. This allows them to burrow into it, scratch it around, or build a nest.
Straw is also placed in the nesting boxes. Keeping the nesting boxes warm helps them to lay eggs. We have found that making sure our chickens are warm and safe they lay an abundance of eggs.
The next way is too use heat lamps. We safely place heat lamps close to the chicken coop to use during extreme cold weather. They are placed up high close to where they perch for the night.
Using the heat lamps during harsh conditions has helped our chickens to not be affected by the cold weather. Our chickens have done well with our heat lamps.
Wind Breakers and Shelter
Breaking a cold wind is important. Keeping the chickens protected from wind also helps with warmth. They are able to huddle in the straw or on their perch by the tarp.
Tarps work good for wind and precipitation protection. We have removed a section of our tarp due to the egg laying. Our chickens do better with some light. Also, a heat lamp has helped with the egg laying dilemma.
In the winter, I add straw daily. Even though our chickens roost I want them to be warm. A few years back the supply store had a heater that I purchased, but we do not use that anymore. The heat lamp works better.
Meal worms, layer pellets, and vegetable scraps are what we feed our chickens. In the winter we add cracked corn because it helps with their metabolism.
The chickens like a variety. Every now and then we add a head of lettuce from the store when it is on sale. Because of the cold, chickens do need more food in the winter. I add an extra cup to their daily feed. They do not overeat, but will eat to keep themselves full. Also, from the squash, potatoes and other garden veggies I harvested they will get some of those.
Carbohydrates are important for chickens to have in the winter. They are usually resting at this time from egg production. Heating up some warm oatmeal for a treat is a good idea. Oatmeal can be poured right into their trough so they can reach it.
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