The days are getting shorter and the temps are dropping: It’s time to think about getting the coop ready for winter months. With a little help, chickens can enjoy a comfortable winter in a cozy coop.
Insulate The Coop
Spray foam insulation and fiberglass insulation are both great options to keep your coop warm. Just be sure to cover any insulation with another layer of plywood to keep chickens from pecking at it. Electrical heat packages can also help keep the coop warm in frigid temps. You can also use wrap on the exterior of the coop, or even hang wool blankets to help keep the cold out.
Eliminate Drafts & Enable Ventilation
Drafts can come from cracks, loose floorboards or even the coop door. Use spray foam insulation from a can to fill in any cracks; just be sure to cut off excess to keep the chickens from pecking at it. Nail down any loose boards. Eliminate any gaps at doors or windows. Automatic coop doors are a great option to minimize drafts.
Make sure that your ventilation areas are open and working properly. Ventilation should be placed high at the roof line and is essential to keeping fresh, clean air moving through the coop and eliminating stale air full of harmful dust and ammonia.
Now is a great time to give your coop a good scrub. Remove soiled bedding. Use soap or disinfectant designed for livestock housing and water to scrub all parts of the coop, especially nesting boxes. Allow all surfaces to completely dry before sprinkling diatomaceous earth on the floor to keep mites, lice and other parasites out of the coop. A thick layer of fresh bedding will keep the chicks clean and cozy during colder months. Lay fresh nesting pads in the nesting boxes.
Make A Dust Bath
Chickens take dust baths to remove oil, parasites and other unwanted matter that can build up on their feathers and skin; dust-bathing removes this build-up and keep a chicken healthy. Chickens will bathe very often, up to several times a day. It’s instinctive for them, even when they are brand-new chicks. The chicken will begin a bath by scratching and bill-raking at the ground, then squat in the dust. The chicken will shake her wings, rub her head into the dust and scratch at the dust with her leg. The dust distributes on and gets between feathers, soaking up oil and killing parasites. The chicken then gives a good shake to get rid of the mess.
Chickens may not have as much access to areas of dust for dust-bathing during winter months, especially if you see regular snowfall. Set up an area for dust baths by filling a kiddie pool, shallow stock tank or feed pan with dirt fortified with diatomaceous earth for your chickens to access during the winter.
Stock Up On Supplies
Winter weather means you have to expect the unexpected, and that also goes for your chicken supplies. Now is a great time to stock up on feed, treats, BioPhene spray disinfectant, diatomaceous earth and fresh bales of straw. Common first-aid items for your chickens like antibiotic ointment, wound treatment, Nutri-Drench and VetRX in case they’re needed for the winter months.
Chickens can enjoy the winter months when they have a clean and cozy coop, plenty of feed, treats and supplies, and a little dust to roll in. And come spring, happy hens will give you plenty of eggs again.