Preparing for Winter

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and therefore am ALWAYS excited for snow! However, this year I also have the safety and comfort of our chickens to think of! I have read multiple opinions on whether or not to heat a chicken coop and my husband and I have decided not to heat the coop and let our hardy hens live naturally. With that being said, I have been trying to find out small ways to make their lives a little more comfortable and am looking for suggestions!

Here’s what we’re preparing to do at this point:

  1. Add extra bedding on the coop floor. Possibly sand?
  2. Keep petroleum jelly on hand to protect combs and wattles from frostbite. I read this is most important for roosters and hens with single combs, which our little Molly has.
  3. Make sure water doesn’t freeze!
    1. I purchased this solar “Deluxe Pet Sipper” from Plow & Hearth that is supposed to keep water ice free in low temperatures (see picture below). Suggested use includes poultry! I’m planning to place this in the run. There were no reviews on the website, so I’ll be sure to update everyone on whether or not it works!
    2. If we have problems with the waterer inside the coop freezing, I am going to purchase a second one to swap out in the morning/evening while the other one thaws.
  4. Potentially cover the run with a tarp if the girls dislike the snow. I got this idea from The Chicken Chick’s Surviving Winter with Chickens post.
  5. Finally, if there is to be a polar vortex, I’m contemplating making a curtain with some insulated fabric to drape over the fenced part of the interior coop for some added warmth.

IMG_3723

What does everyone else do to prepare? Am I missing anything?

*Egg update: The girls have just hit 6 months of age and no eggs yet! The days are getting shorter and colder, and I am wondering if this may be affecting them. Alternatively, they ARE laying eggs in some secret spot in the yard…

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3 thoughts on “Preparing for Winter

  1. Make sure they have quality feed, no corn or GMOs maybe add some minerals and iodine to help their bodies convert food into heat. Chickens have a really hard time digesting corn and GMO corn really screws up digestion. As a kid all our animals including chickens were given extra minerals to help them stay warm. I do the same thing for our family too. Don’t forget to take your iodine supplements! I take powdered kelp from the Atlantic ocean. Pacific has too much Fukushima radiation now. The old timers had to make their own feed. They cooked up a mash with some hay for the greens chickens need to stay healthy. I grow extra greens in my gardens, collards and kale, share it with my chickens when the snow gets too high for them to forage.

  2. Your girls are beautiful! We have one barred rock among our mixed flock, and she is secretly one of my favorites! 🙂
    We do the deep litter method of shavings on the coop floor. Over the winter, we won’t clean out shavings – just stir them up, and add more shavings on top. This will start to decompose, creating heat as it does. So far it seems like our girls are all nice and warm, but we don’t get temperatures quite as low, being on the coast.
    Happy homesteading! ~Caran

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