I just came in from digging my chickens out of two feet of snow. They appeared briefly to say thank you and then went right back in the coop. If you are raising chickens, I am sure you have discovered their disdain for the white stuff. Here are five ways to keep your chickens warm on a cold winters day.
1. Provide you chickens with fresh water. I got tired of breaking ice real fast up here in the mountains and I know the importance of fresh water for chickens. We invested a little money and made our own automatic waterer. We use a five gallon bucket with an aquarium heater dropped in it to keep it from freezing. It hangs in our coop with five chicken nipples hanging from the bottom.
2. Make sure your chickens have plenty of clean bedding. We use the deep litter method. It works perfectly. The heat from the decomposing poo raises up and keeps the chickens warm. Right now I probably have six inches of straw bedding keeping my flock nice and cozy.
3. Keep the chicken run dry and snow free . Run thick plastic or a trap over part or all of the run during winter. This will keep out bitter cold wind and the chicken run will stay nice and dry. We also drop straw in the covered portion of the chicken run during winter months to keep the ground from getting muddy as the snow melts.
4. Make sure your chickens still have a place to take a dust bath during the winter months. We use the ashes from the fireplace to create a nice area for them to bathe. If you don't have any dry ground, grab a plant pot and fill it will dirt and/or ashes. Your chickens will love you for it.
5. Provide a nice warm treat at bedtime. Check your chickens croups as they go to roost, they should be nice and full. Digesting food releases heat to keep your chickens nice and toasty even on the coldest winter nights.This is also why it's a good idea to bring in sick chickens, who are off feed, in from the elements- they have a tough time staying warm and put more energy into trying to warm up than healing.
Raising chickens even in the winter is fun and easy. It only takes a little time to insure your flock will make it through even the coldest winter nights. Happy egg finding!