It’s fall, y’all….and that means you gotta make sure your backyard chickens are ready before the cold sets in.
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I know in some parts of Canada (looking at you, Alberta) that it’s already snowing….but for most of the United States, it’s just starting to get cool.
And there’s lots you can do right now BOTH to celebrate the season AND prepare your flock for the upcoming wind and ice.
Although chickens weather winter pretty well in most locations (their feathers help!), just a few tweaks can mean an easier time when the mercury dips.
Even if you live in a temperate climate, there’s ideas on this list to help your backyard chicken flock stay healthy year round.
There’s also LOTS of treat ideas to make the most out of fall!
Give a good clean out before cold sets in
Now is the time to give your coop a final clean before the cold makes it miserable outside. You likely won’t want to clean it again (a deep clean at least) until the spring thaw.
In addition to sweeping out any old bedding, be sure to wash off any accumulated poop on or under roosting bars, and wipe down nesting boxes that might have bits of broken egg or feathers lodged in them.
If you have a wooden or cement floor, give it a good wash to reduce the chances of ammonia build up, which can effect your chickens’ lungs.
Decide how to keep water from freezing
Now is the time to figure out how you’ll keep water unfrozen in your chicken coop. Will you use heated bowls, solar energy, or add water throughout the day?
There’s lots of options (you can view them in this article about keeping water from freezing), and you’ll have to find one that works for your particular situation.
Remember, what works in Southern Missouri likely won’t work in Northern Dakota, right?
Keep an eye on local super markets for pumpkin sales
This time of year, there’s lots of pumpkins to buy. Don’t pay retail – wait until they go on sale and stock up for your backyard chickens.
Pumpkin is very healthy for chickens, with lots of vitamins and nutrients for chickens – and they love pecking at it!
Most stores start to discount pumpkins well before October 31.
Pumpkins keep for a while, and stored in a cool, dry location, you can have healthy treats for your hens for the next month or two!
If you REALLY want to buy one now, you can make a cute coop decoration by carving out a pumpkin into a flower pot.
After a week, you can then feed it to your chickens! Just make sure you use flowers that aren’t poisonous.
Help molting hens or hens experiencing feather loss from roosters with a high protein diet.
Yep, every fall, some or all of your chickens will lose their feathers due to molt.
It’s normal – and there’s something you can do to help regrow those feathers quickly!
Double check coop security – food is getting scarce for predators.
While predators might leave your fluffy butts alone during summer, as the days get shorter and food becomes more scarce, they might turn an eye to your chickens.
Now is the time to check that your coop is completely secure and make adjustments as needed.
Make sure all doors and windows latch tightly, and upgrade the wiring around your coop if necessary. You don’t want predators to get OVER your coop walls or UNDER them!
See tracks and not sure what predator is hanging around? Check out my predator footprint guide here!
Head out to farmers markets and/or orchards.
You can usually purchase seconds (bruised or unattractive fruit that’s still fresh and edible) for pennies on the dollar. They still make great treats for your fluffy butts!
Some great ideas for fruit and veggies to feed backyard chickens are peaches (without the pits), apples (without the seeds), and leafy greens!
You can also grow your own leafy greens over winter for your backyard chickens with this guide.
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.
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