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Poultry Tips - Caring For Your Flock During The Colder Months

by Southern States
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Believe it or not, chickens are pretty resilient animals when it comes to colder weather. That being said, they do still need a bit of extra care and looking after during the colder months.

Heated houses are not absolutely necessary as chickens have the ability to use their feathers to stay warmer when temperatures drop. However, it is imperative that they have dry shelter free from colder air drafts. Before cold temps arrive – we recommend double checking your chicken coops for drafts, holes or any cracks. Not only does this protect your chickens from the cold weather, but also from moisture and small pests or predators.

Chicken flocks create a lot of moisture from their breathing and their droppings so they will need plenty of ventilation and fresh air circulating throughout their housing. Straw can help to keep your chickens' feet insulated from the frozen ground during the day. It is extremely important to keep what you use for insulation clean and dry and replace it often when it becomes wet.

Egg production has a tendency to slow down in the winter because of the reduced hours of natural light. Since hens need 14 or more hours of daylight each day to lay well, consider hanging a light bulb in the nesting area to extend the ‘daylight' hours to fourteen. This will encourage the hens to lay more eggs.

Staying warm requires more energy, so your chickens will need more poultry feed in the winter to keep their body heat up. Feeding the chickens later in the evening will also help keep them warmer throughout the night as their bodies digest the food. Chickens need fresh, clean water all year long, but this becomes more challenging with daily freezing temperatures. If you have electricity in the barn you may want to invest in a heated water bowl. Take care when installing electrical items in the chicken house.

For more information about poultry care and flock management, check out our Poultry Flock Care playlist and stay tuned to our Livestock How-To articles. What is your favorite thing about working with your flock?

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