October Chicken Coop Checklist: What To Do In Your Coop In October

October Chicken Coop Checklist: What To Do In Your Coop In October

It’s fall, y’all….and that means you gotta make sure your backyard chickens are ready before the cold sets in.

 

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!

 

Giving your flock a high protein diet that include black soldier fly larvae or Fluffiest Feathers Ever! (28% protein) is an easy way to provide a high protein diet – and chickens LOVE both!

 

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.

How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

Not sure how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Then pull up a chair, because we got quite a few (battle-tested) ideas for you today.

 

(Want to know how to keep your flock’s water from freezing? Get my genius hacks here).

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

While the winters never get too brutal here in Missouri, we still do get our share of freezing temps (usually in January and February) thanks to the polar vortexes from our Canadian friends up North.

 

And trying to keep a chicken coop warm in winter is never fun. In fact, it’s usually a battle of ingenuity, and we’re kept on our toes trying to find new ways to keep the flock toasty and cozy when it’s gotten so cold we don’t even have a prayer of getting the hose getting unfrozen.

 

Now before we begin, just remember: For the most part, your chickens will be fine during the winter.

 

Every year, I get a few people who ask whether their hens will freeze in temperatures below 40 degrees, and the answer is no. Your chickens will likely be fine no matter what.

 

Only once temperatures dip below zero and into the VERY below zero temperatures (negative 30 degrees, for example) do you really need to be concerned about keeping them warm.

herbs for backyard chickens

 

In temperatures above zero, your chickens will fluff their feathers to stay warm and all the walking around and foraging will help keep their blood circulating and their body temperature up.

 

At night, they’ll bundle together on a roost and keep their little legs warm by sitting on them.

 

But you still are probably wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter, so here’s some ideas we’ve used on our farm to get you started!

 

  1. Shut the door midday and let the sun warm your coop up

 

We’ve had a lot of luck with the various coops on our property by using solar energy to keep the coops heated.

 

Our coops have windows, so for the first part of the day, we can open the coop doors and let the hens forage.

 

About mid-day, you can close the doors and allow the heat to get trapped inside the coop, keeping it warmer than it would be otherwise.

 

Now, don’t ask me how many degrees this will raise the temperature – that’s going to depend on a wide variety of factors.

 

And this won’t work 100% of the time. But it might be the difference between 22 degrees and 32 degrees in the coop – and that’s a heck of a difference.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

2. Use lots of straw & clean out every week

 

Straw is an amazing insulator – that’s why you see those straw houses becoming so popular.

 

Putting about a foot deep of straw in your coop will do wonders keeping the cold air out and the warm air generated by your flock’s body heat in.

 

As a bonus, your flock won’t have to stand on a cold floor.

 

Now, you might hear that straw is not good to use as bedding – to each his own. Some people have decided that straw harbors mites, and the answer is if you don’t clean your coop, pretty much anything will harbor mites.

 

Clean the straw out of your coop weekly, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Keep your backyard chickens toasty warm with these 6 genius hacks!

3. Deep litter method

 

If you don’t know what the deep litter method is, or if you’ve heard of it but aren’t sure what it entails, then you can learn everything you want to know right here.

 

Now for full disclosure, I don’t use the deep litter method. But people who DO use it claim it can raise the coop temperature by about 10 degrees – pretty significant when your talking about daily highs in the teens.

 

The reason it generates so much heat is because the manure dropped by the chickens composts, and the breaking-down process causes heat.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

4. Radiant space heater

 

Like the deep litter method, this one isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re not sure what a radiant heater is, you can see an example here (you can also buy one here).

 

Now note, I didn’t say heat lamp – that’s a definite no-no because they get way too hot. Every winter, there’s a slew of posts on Facebook about people who used a heat lamp and their coop went up in flames.

 

Just say no to heat lamps.

 

Radiant heaters are a different thing – they don’t get so hot and have some safety features. They can raise the temperatures in your coop a few degrees, and that can make all the difference.

 

Just note, you will need an electrical source to use a radiant space heater.

 

Now, would I personally use one of these in my coop? Probably not. I’m WAY to paranoid about fires and our winters are not that cold – it’s the odd day that things get below zero.

 

That being said, you might want to use one – and if you do, the more power to you.

 

 

5. Use a treeline to break the wind

 

We have one horse pasture that I swear is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the others. When the water is frozen solid in the other fields, it’s not even icy in this particular pasture.

 

And the reason is that there’s a lot of trees causing a ginormous windbreak. And it makes all the difference.

 

It’s pretty insane how much a treeline can keep a coop warm simply because it’s keeping the cold winds away from your flock.

 

If your chickens are in a tractor, or if you can somehow move them behind a treeline, you’ll be able to keep the coop from losing warmth.

 

If you can use something else to create a windbreak (moving the coop behind a structure so it’s protected), then that’ll work as well.

 

If you plan to use straw in your coop, you could even buy extra bales to create a “wall” to break the wind (don’t laugh – we’ve done it and it WORKS.)

herbs for backyard chickens

  1. Use insulation around doors and windows

This one will take a bit of planning on your part, but you can save a lot of heat by simply eliminating drafts. (After all, it IS those polar vortexes that contribute to the cold in the first place)

 

Making sure your coop doors and windows have proper insulation will go a long way.

 

Don’t use any of that spray foam however (my husband loves that stuff and it’s a nightmare to look at and clean up, and your chickens might decided to taste test it – never a good thing.)

 

If you’re trying to figure out how to heat a chicken coop in winter, then spend a little and get something like this that will do the job without taking the chance your flock will try to eat it.

herbs for backyard chickens

Want genius ideas to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Here's 6 genius hacks perfect for beginner backyard chicken mamas!

8+ DIY Holiday Decorations For Your Chicken Coop

8+ DIY Holiday Decorations For Your Chicken Coop

So I tend to go a little bit overboard with Christmas decorations every year.

I love Christmas, so I have to try and reign myself in every year when I want to decorate my house all out for the holidays. I’ve been looking at Christmas decorations on Pinterest all week (obviously) and I realized that I need to start decorating my chicken coop for the holidays! I think having holiday decor on the chicken coop might motivate me to leave my warm house to go check on my chickens. Or at least it would make a trip out to the coop more enjoyable right?

So today I thought I would share some of my absolute favorite DIY Christmas decorations for the chicken coop with all of you. Most of these DIY decorations you can make for cheap, or maybe even for free! So let’s get going, here are my favorite DIY Holiday decorations for your chicken coop.

Pine Cone Wreath

Wouldn’t one of these pine cone wreaths look fantastic on your chicken coop? If you have a pine tree in your backyard you could make this simple DIY wreath practically for free. You can find the tutorial here: Making Pine Cone Wreaths

Chicken Coop Garland

I love this adorable chicken coop garland for your hens made from fruit and chicken treats! Not only is this garland adorable, but it’s also a great boredom buster for your hens during the winter months. You can find the tutorial here: Festive Garland for a Chicken Coop

Holiday Herb & Berry Wreath

I’ve made this adorable wreath for my chicken coop, and my chickens love it. It looks adorable, and yes your chickens are supposed to eat it! It’s a great way to feed your chickens herbs in a fun and festive way! Tutorial here: Holiday Herb & Berry Wreath

Hot Chocolate Bar

Ok, so this isn’t exactly for your chicken coop, but after running out to the coop to check on my chickens in freezing weather, I definitely need some hot chocolate. So this DIY decoration is for the chicken owner:) I love the idea of creating an everyday hot chocolate bar because who doesn’t want hot chocolate everyday? This DIY project is super simple and I love how fun and festive it would make a small corner of your kitchen feel. Tutorial: Everyday Hot Chocolate Bar

Feed Bag Stocking

Isn’t this a great idea to use your leftover feed bags? You can make feed bag stockings to hang on your chicken coop for free using your empty chicken feed bags. Tutorial here: Feed Bag Stockings

Edible Christmas Garlands

Here’s another fun Christmas garland idea for your chicken coop. This one is made from radishes, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, and boiled eggs! This probably wouldn’t last long in my chicken coop, but it’s a fun and simple Christmas decoration! You can find the tutorial here: Edible Christmas Garland

Cookie Tin Water Heater

This cookie tin water heater is festive and practical! It keeps your chickens’ water from freezing! I love that this project is festive and useful at the same time! Here’s the tutorial: Cookie Tin Water Heater

Festive Chicken Coop

Don’t you love this coop? It looks STUNNING and it would be fairly simple to replicate! You can see more pictures of this adorable coop here: Holiday Chicken Coop

Do you decorate your chicken coop for the holidays? What chicken coop decorations do you love?

Easy & Adorable DIY Holiday Herb & Berry Coop Wreath!

Easy & Adorable DIY Holiday Herb & Berry Coop Wreath!

We all know herbs are healthy to feed your hens, so making a holiday herb wreath with berries is the perfect way to give your flock herbal goodness while making a cute & stylish coop decoration!

 

Making an herb wreath is really easy – in fact, the hardest thing you’ll do is decide WHICH herbs to use!

 

And yes, it’s meant to be beautiful AND your hens should eat it. Once it’s spent and doesn’t look great anymore, you can compost it.

 

For this wreath, we used rosemary (because it’s healthy AND looks visually similar to pine) and cranberries.

 

And I’ll tell you, hens LOVE the red berries. Cranberries are perfectly fine to feed your hens (especially fresh cranberries), but you can also use any other red berry – strawberries are another good option.

 

(In fact, if you doubt whether chickens will actually go for this wreath, here’s an image from our photo shoot where I turned my back for a moment and Mario, our Blue Copper Marans rooster, decided to try to steal the wreath):

 

Make an easy DIY holiday wreath with herbs and berries for your backyard chicken coop!

 

What herbs should you use?

For herbs, you can stick to the rosemary I used in this article, or you can add other herbs. Oregano, sage, and thyme are good options – each is great for overall health.

 

If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can also use flowers such as calendula or lavender, or add pinecones (your hens might try to sample the pinecones but quickly desert them in favor of the herbs and berries).

 

So why a wreath? Well, it’s fun, seasonal, and looks great in your coop. As far as the health benefits go, its an easy way to give your hens a healthy in a way that they can easy access the herbs without mashing them into the ground (it’s all about the benefits, right?)

 

Want to know how to make your own? Well, here’s directions you can repeat at home.

 

Make an easy DIY holiday wreath with herbs and berries for your backyard chicken coop!

 

Making Your Own Herbal Holiday Wreath for Your Chicken Coop

 

What you’ll need:

A wood or plastic ring

Beading wire or string (more on this in a minute)

About several bunches of long stemmed rosemary

4 – 7 cranberries or other berries

 

How to put your wreath together:

Make or buy a wreath ring

The ring is necessary to give your wreath some structure. It’ll look better and last longer in the coop, and make the rest of this project easier.

 

You can buy these here on Amazon or make one yourself with an old container top. We used an old container top we had laying around because, well, recycling is a good idea.

 

If you do use a plastic top, use an Exacto type knife (like this one here) to transform it into a ring. This is probably the easiest and most budget-friendly way to make this wreath.

 

You can also use it again and again, instead of replacing it every time you want to make a coop wreath.

 

Add the Herbs

Once you’ve made or purchased the ring, it’s time to add your herbs. Again, you can use any herbs you like, and for this project  I used rosemary.

 

Try your best to use only long stems of the herb – it’ll look better and be easier to tie to the ring. I was able to find fresh rosemary in the vegetable section of the supermarket.

 

If you can’t find any, don’t worry – you can still do this project. If you can find long stemmed herbs that AREN’T rosemary, then those herbs might be a better choice.

 

Tie bunches of the herbs (for the pictured wreath, the bunches were 2 – 3 stems of the rosemary) to the wreath. I tied them every inch or so, leaving the last 2-3 inches of the rosemary free.

 

The ends of the herbs will hide the wire or string, and complete the overall look.

 

Continue to do this, layering the bunches as you work your way around the wreath. This will also hide the tie points and add bulk to the wreath, making it look fuller.

 

Now, before we continue….

 

A note about the wire or string

Make an easy DIY holiday wreath with herbs and berries for your backyard chicken coop!

For this project, I used beading wire (not chicken wire). It’s sturdy and also flexible, and easy to twist.

 

You CAN use string, but there’s a couple caveats. Your hens are more likely to pick and eat at the string and it’s also harder to thread the berries with string.

 

You’ll hear a song and dance about how your hens will eat the wire and it could puncture or injure their digestive system.

 

Well, there’s also a chance aliens will puncture your hen’s digestive systems, but the chance of either happening is fairly small.

 

Obviously, you should proceed at your own risk and only do what you feel is best for your flock.

 

But understand if you do use either wire or string, your hens will likely be fine, and the health benefits of the herbs and fun you’ll have watching your hens go wild over the berries FAR outweighs any potential risks.

 

Chickens aren’t dumb, and will go for the herbs and berries long before they taste test wire.

 

If you use string, try to use a thicker string like baling twine. Your hens might be able to slurp up thread, but they’ll have to be pretty determined to swallow baling twine.

 

Adding the Berries

Finally, add your berries. Its easiest and most visually attractive to place them where you’ve wired the herbs to the ring. The berries will completely cover the wire.

 

Make an easy DIY holiday wreath with herbs and berries for your backyard chicken coop!

 

I found it was easiest to pierce the cranberries with a toothpick and then push the beading wire through. If you plan to use string, then use a needle to thread the string through.

 

Wire them on tight so your hens can pick at the berries. This also makes it more difficult for your hens to accidentally swallow the wire or string.

 

And that’s it!

You’ve now created a cute holiday herbal wreath for your coop! You can either place it high and enjoy it as a decoration or you can place it low and allow your hens to eat it. When it’s past it’s prime, and they’re no longer interested, take it down and compost the remaining herbs and berries. Because it’s easy to make, you can spend a couple minutes a week creating a new wreath and letting your flock enjoy it again and again!

 

herbs for backyard chickens




Web Analytics


5 DIY Automatic Chicken Coop Doors For Easy Care

5 DIY Automatic Chicken Coop Doors For Easy Care

Making a DIY automatic chicken coop door, especially if you work, makes taking care of your hens so much easier.

 

We know that chickens are animals that love routine. They definitely know when to come in at night and come out early in the morning to go on about their pecking and bug hunting.

 

A commercial or DIY automatic chicken coop door is installed to keep your chickens safe from predators at night and to make it easy to let the hens out in the morning.

 

The problem with a simple pop door is that you have to lock and unlock it manually in the evening and at daylight.

 

It’s a twice-a-day chore that doesn’t allow you to sleep in on a bed-weather morning or let your hens out as soon as they’re ready (and trust me, they’re ready at 4 AM or earlier).

 

Making or finding a cheap automatic chicken door opener might just be the trick to keep you AND your flock happy.

 

In this article, I show you doors that work well and you’ll also get ideas for your own DIY automatic chicken coop door.

 

No matter whether you buy a commercial one or make a DIY automatic chicken coop door, the number one thing to remember is to make sure it fits the door of your coop.

 

(The second thing to do is decide if you want one that’s battery operated, solar operated, weight operated, or uses wired electricity (instead of batteries). You’ll need to decide which is best for your particular coop.)

 

Commercial and DIY Automatic Chicken Coop Door Ideas

 

Automatic Chicken Coop Door

I was sent one of these to review, and I’ve found it to be one of the best on the market. It’s simple to install, and priced well.

 

DIY automatic chicken coop door

 

You can see how well it works here:

 

You can buy it as a complete kit (yay for easy install) or just buy the motor separately.

 

The coop doors are also made to be all-weather and protected with linseed oil. Each automatic poultry door is individually tested & inspected before it leaves the facility.

 

After speaking with the owner, I learned that they’ve had NO returns in 3 years, and their prototype door still operates after almost 10 years of daily use.

 

The motors are also 100% repairable, so you are never stuck purchasing another motor or door. Since I love one-time investments, that makes me VERY happy!

 

You can also see how easy it is to install here:

 

They also have a DIY automatic coop door kit in the event you want to build your own.

LEARN MORE HERE

 

AutoDoor Automatic Chicken Coop Door

AutoDoor is one of the most popular chicken coop door builders in Amazon. It is made from heavy duty aluminum that doesn’t rust nor break easily from external forces.

 

The size is very comfortable for your chickens to go in and out with a 1-foot tall and 10.5-inch wide opening. Installation is pretty easy as well with just 4 bolts to screw into the door.

 

It’s also powered by 4 AA batteries, making it easy to power (although you will have to buy batteries, which can add up.)

LEARN MORE HERE

 

ChickenGuard

DIY automatic chicken coop door

This isn’t a full coop door, but just a box that controls the coop door you need to install separately. It works between temperatures as low as -20 degrees and as high as 120 degrees (sorry people who live in -30 degree weather…)

 

It also runs off AA batteries, which is convenient, but given the other options, the price tag of over $200 is a bit high for just a control box.

LEARN MORE HERE

 

Titan Incubators Automatic Chicken Coop Door Timer Unit

DIY automatic chicken coop door

This is another unit (just a unit, no door) that controls a pre-installed automatic chicken coop door, but at $125, it’s an easier to swallow price than the ChickenGuard. You can purchase a metal door separately that’s compatible with the unit.

LEARN MORE HERE

 

A Chicken-Activated Coop Door

You can also make a DIY automatic chicken coop door and instead of using electricity or batteries, use the chickens themselves!

 

The idea is to use the combined weight of the chickens as they climb onto the roosting bar to sleep at night to pull the cables and pulleys and pop the door open.

 

As it shifts to a lighter weight, the door closes. It’s simple and eco-friendly since you don’t need to use electricity. If you are going for a cheap automatic chicken door opener, this is an option.

 

You can see how it works here:

 

Since it doesn’t use electricity, if the power grid goes down (or some ding dong runs their care into a telephone poll, which is usually the case in our neighborhood), your chickens can just let themselves out, like the bosses they are.

 

The only disadvantage here is that you need to make sure your chicken flock will actually use the roosting bar.

 

Personally, I would also put the coop door up higher than the one in the video in case they didn’t close it at night for whatever reason. A coop door that low might be too much for predators to resist.

 

How to decide which automatic coop door is for you

If you’re not sure which coop door is for you (or whether you should DIY one yourself or buy a commercial one), consider the following:

  • Are you “mechanically inclined,” so making a DIY automatic chicken coop door is easy for you, or would you rather just take one out of the box and install?
  • How large is your coop door? If it’s not a standard size, a DIY option might be easier, or you can find a way to adjust the door size.
  • Do you want to use electricity, solar energy, or batteries? Do you want the coop door to be chicken-activated?

 

These questions will help you figure out which option – commercial or DIY automatic chicken coop door – is best for your particular situation.

 

There are plenty of automatic coop doors out there to choose from. But the bottom line is the commercial ones currently available on the market with good reviews are not very different from each other. You just have to make sure to choose the right one for your chicken coop.

 

With a DIY automatic chicken coop door, you can sleep safe and sound at night knowing that your flock will still be alive and clucking so lively in the morning. Get yours today!