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.

Easy & Cheap DIY Chicken Coop Build

Easy & Cheap DIY Chicken Coop Build

Here’s part 1 of our new chicken coop build! It’s a time lapse of how we built the frame. So far, it’s cost us about $160 to build this coop – $80 for the hardware and $80 for the 2×4 wood.

 

Fall In Love With Feeding Pumpkins To Your Chickens + Fall Coop Spray Recipe! [Podcast]

Fall In Love With Feeding Pumpkins To Your Chickens + Fall Coop Spray Recipe! [Podcast]

T’is the season for pumpkins…but do you know why they’re so healthy for chickens?

 

Do you know how to safely feed them? How about how to get them for next to nothing?

 

Well, get ready and get on the edge of your seat, because you’re about to discover just how beneficial pumpkin can be to your coop AND your wallet this season.

 

In this podcast, you’ll learn:

  • Why pumpkins are a great addition to your flock’s diet (but why they shouldn’t REPLACE their diet)
  • How to safely feed pumpkin so your flock gets the most benefit
  • Where to find pumpkins for free and how to ask for them
  • My recipe for a fall spray to help keep your coop clean and smelling fresh

 

Links we discuss:

These are the essential oils I use

 

Wondering if you can feed pumpkins to your backyard chickens? You can, and here's why you should!

 

Homemade Suet Cakes For Chickens: Great Boredom Busters!

Homemade Suet Cakes For Chickens: Great Boredom Busters!

Crafting homemade suet cakes for chickens is a simple way to boost the fat in your flock’s diet while giving them a way to stay occupied.

 

In fact, a frequent question I get is “Can chickens eat suet cakes?,” and not only is the answer a definitive “YES!” but feeding diy suet cakes to chickens can help reduce bad behavior and stress from being confined in a coop all day.

 

It’s summer, so right now I’m making suet cakes to help my chickens stay cool.

 

And they’re a total hit!


While my hens otherwise look like they’re ready to melt and are completely miserable as they try to stay cool in our 100+ degree heat, when they catch sight of their suet cakes, the light comes back in their eyes as they realize they’re about to have a blast.

 

Needless to say, as soon as I drop the treats in their chicken feeders, it’s game on.

 

I like to use coconut oil when I make homemade suet cakes for chickens because it’s good for them (with good antibacterial qualities), it’s malleable, and it holds the corn, oats, and other things I add fairly well.

 

It’s also a nice source of healthy fat, particularly in winter, when you need to worry more about their calorie intake in the cold.

 

If you’re feeling particularly creative, you can make homemade suet cakes with bacon grease or other grease leftover from cooking.

 

You can use grease by itself, but I like to mix it with coconut oil (especially good for winter, when the extra protein will help them out).

 

Remember, however, that these are treats – not a replacement for a good basic diet.

 

Although I can guarantee your chickens will love your homemade suet and come running whenever they see you have them!
This is the best homemade suet cake for chickens recipe I’ve found that will help your chickens improve their health while providing a treat, and I’m happy to share it with you!

What should you add to homemade suet cakes for chickens?

 

You can pretty much add anything that’s fine for chickens to eat. Some easy choices are:

  • Corn
  • Oatmeal
  • Chopped unsalted peanuts
  • Dry peas
  • Wheat berries
  • Lentils
  • Flax seeds (improves omega-3s in eggs)
  • Sunflower seeds (high in fat)

 

I like to add more corn and peanuts in the winter for an energy boost to help them through the night.

 

Another option is to add pea sprouts, microgreens, etc, which is especially easy to do if you use coconut oil.

 

You can also add fresh or dry herbs. Oregano, sage, and thyme are good options that are also easy to source.

What shape should homemade suet cakes be?

 

As for shape, you have a few options.

 

I like to use a muffin tin; we have a lot of chickens, and a single large block would get eaten by the few, leaving the rest of our chickens wanting.

 

So, the muffin tin makes sure everyone gets a piece of the suet cakes.

 

You can also use a shallow pan, or anything that fits easily into your freezer.

How to make homemade suet cakes for chickens

 

Grab a muffin tin or pan

If using a pan, make sure it’s deep enough to accommodate all the coconut oil you plan to use.

 

Melt the coconut oil over low heat, just until melted (especially important if using sprouts)

Coconut oil has a melting point of 77 degrees, so it only needs to be warmed until it starts to melt. Any more, and you might destroy some of the beneficial properties of the oil, as well as potentially cooking some of your additives (and altering their nutrients).

 

This is particularly key if you plan to use sprouts – when they’re fresh, sprouts have more nutrients. But if they cook in hot oil, your chickens will enjoy them less.

 

Stir in whatever you’re adding

I like using regular oatmeal. People always seem to give it to us, and this is a simple way to use it up that’s also a nice treat for our backyard chickens.

 

Grind or chop up whatever you’re adding to your homemade suet cakes to make sure the entire block doesn’t crumble, and if you use peanuts, make sure they’re unsalted.

 

You can also alter your recipe depending on the season, adding more corn in the winter when energy is important, and flax seeds in the summer when they’re laying eggs again.

 

Pour mixture into muffin tins

Fill to the top, since the coconut oil won’t really expand in the cold. You can add some extra oatmeal or corn on the top as well.

 

Remember that the muffin pan will be hot (especially if you let the coconut oil get hotter than 77 degrees), so be careful picking it up and moving it.

 

Freeze until solid

Time will vary depending on your freezer. I like to make homemade suet cakes for chickens in the evening, then let them freeze overnight.

 

Invert pan to remove the homemade suet cakes

If you need to, you can run a knife around the edge of the pan, but I’ve found that’s less effective than simply turning the pan over and tapping on the bottom.

 

Feed and watch your chickens enjoy!

Remember that coconut oil has a low melting point, so don’t remove them from the freezer until you’re actually ready to feed them.

 

I’ve found they start to melt as soon as I bring them outside. 

 

Making homemade suet cakes is easy – and it’s a good way to fight boredom, reduce bad behaviors, and make sure your hens are getting extra calories!

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you think you’ll try making homemade suet cakes for chickens? Leave a comment below!

Hot Chicken Coop? Add Windows With This DIY Tutorial!

Hot Chicken Coop? Add Windows With This DIY Tutorial!

Adding a window to your chicken coop is easy – as long as you have a plan.

 

While the coop we bought for our hens is largely perfect, when the summer time heat hit, it got just a little bit too stuffy in there for my comfort.

 

Backyard chickens don’t sweat like humans do – so they feel heat more and chickens have a hard time cooling down.

 

It’s very important your coop has great ventilation and air flow so your hens don’t develop respiratory issues and suffer heat stroke – so we decided to add a few windows to our chicken coop to reduce the heat inside AND increase the airflow.

 

Before we get started, know that there’s a LOT of decisions to make before you start cutting a hole in the wall of your coop…..practical AND style decisions.

 

And since you’ll be looking at your coop for a LONG time, both of these types of decisions are equally important.

 

For those who can’t wait to discover what window we chose, we opted for a $30, pre-fab, single hung windows with screens. You’ll learn why as you read the article.

 

Backyard chicken coop window tutorial

 

You should choose the type of window that works best for your own situation, however.

 

Here’s how we did it, and how you can add a window to your chicken coop yourself.

 

Tools needed:

  • Sawzaw or other way to cut a hole in your coop wall
  • Window & manufacturer’s window installation kit
  • Molding or wood to frame the window
  • Broom to sweep up wood shavings and dust
  • Measuring tape
  • Ear plugs (yes, these are important – you don’t want ringing ears!)
  • 1-inch drill bit & drill
  • Electric screwdriver
  • A carpenter’s pencil or a marker

 

Step 1: Decide Where To Put The Window

This is critical – once you cut a hole in your coop wall, it’s permanent, so keep the following questions in mind before adding the window.

 

Where does the wind blow?

The goal is to create air flow – so you want to make sure you stand a good chance by putting the window where there tends to be a lot of airflow already.

 

Don’t make this decision lightly – you need to keep airflow from all seasons in mind.

 

On our farm, we have a lot of wind from the North, so it seems it would be best to place the window on the North side of the coop.

 

But in the winter, the North wind come from Canada, and it’s cold and bitter. So, the North side isn’t the best place.

 

The coop already has a window to the South, so we decided on an East/West location for the windows. We get a good West wind, and during the winter, it’s not as bitter as the North wind.

 

Are you adding more than one window?

Not every coop needs multiple windows. Ours does, so we decided to add 2 windows.

 

But going back to airflow….

 

You might need more than one window if your coop is very hot and stuffy over the summer, or if you want a lot of light in your coop and live in a cooler area, so make this decision before deciding on the final placement of your chicken coop window.

 

Is there a spot that tends to get super wet with rain (avoid this spot)?

An open window is an invitation for wet weather to seep into your coop. If you have a particular spot that’s more likely to bring water into the coop, this might not be the best place to add a window.

 

For example, we rarely have East winds – so we know we’re less likely to have our coop soaked during a sudden rainstorm with a window that faces the East.

 

This is key to reduce moisture in your coop and keep your chickens healthy.

 

What height should you put it at to avoid predators?

If chicken predators plague your area, you want the window to be high enough that they can’t just jump into your coop or rip open any screens.

 

In our area, we don’t have much trouble with predators. However, we still make sure the window is several feet off the ground.

 

Backyard chicken coop window

The goat had to inspect our work

Where does the window look the most attractive?

Really, this IS important, so don’t gloss over this because it seems frivolous.

 

You’ll be looking at this new window for a long time – choose a spot on the chicken coop wall that looks “right” and not funky.

 

The last thing you want is to regret the placing decision and spend the next 20 years kicking yourself.

 

Do you need to move any structural beams or add bracing?

Go inside your chicken coop and look at the overall structure. To install the window, will you need to move any beams and will you need to brace the walls around the window?

 

For our coop, the interior 2×4 beams were largely for looks – they didn’t really support the walls at all. So, we were free to remove them as needed.

 

However, your coop might not be structured the same way, and you might need to brace a wall in order to keep your flock’s home structurally sound.

 

Adding bracing is pretty easy. We had to do it in our farm house when we installed French doors, but it’s important to know whether you have to do it – so you don’t walk out one morning to a crumpled heap of wood.

 

So, take these decisions into consideration when deciding where to place the window in your chicken coop.

 

Do you plan to buy a pre-fab window or build one yourself (or simply cut a hole in the wall??)

Ask yourself whether you plan to DIY the window (which brings up another host of questions) or if you’ll buy a window and kit and just install it yourself.

 

We opted to buy windows – they cost about $30 each and look better than just a hole in the wall.

 

Step 2: Will the window close?

Ask yourself whether you plan to close the window at any point. This is also an important decision.

 

In the past, we simply cut holes in the wall, slapped some hardware cloth in it, and left it at that.

 

Then winter rolled around, and we regretted being so cavalier – because we then had to cover the chicken coop window with really ugly tin.

 

In some areas (such as areas with little rainfall and high temperatures), a window that closes isn’t as important.

 

So, you need to consider your local climate.

 

But if you plan to close the window during bad weather, you’ll need to buy or make a window that has the ability to close.

 

Do you plan to use hardware cloth or a screen?

The purpose of a window is to create airflow, but you also don’t want your flock to escape through the window.

 

So, you’ll need some sort of covering for the big gaping hole you’re about to create. We wanted to keep bugs out of the coop as much as possible, so we opted for a prefab window that had a screen.

 

If you live in an area with a lot of predators, a screen might not be the best option. In fact, if you live in an area with bears, you might want to consider safety bars.

 

If raccoons or opossums are an issue in your area, then ¼ inch hardware cloth might be a better option. For areas with aggressive neighborhood dogs, ½ inch hardware cloth will work well.

 

We don’t have a lot of predators, and certainly no bears, but we do have a LOT of flies in our chicken coop……so we went with a screen that gave us a bit of bug control.

 

Before cutting, ask yourself whether you’ll use hardware cloth or a screen.

 

Single hung or double hung?

This is kind of a minor decision, but ask yourself whether you want a single or double hung window to grace the wall of your chicken coop.

 

Single hung windows are cheaper, so we went with that.

 

Step 3: Cut A Hole In The Wall The Size Of The Window

Now it’s time to actually install the window. First, keep your chickens out of the coop if possible – they will be disturbed by the loud noise and wood particles in the air.

 

Let your hens free range and enjoy some time outside hunting bugs while you improve their home.

 

Next, make sure you don’t need to move any structural beams.

 

Measure the size of your window, and measure the wall – if any beams are in the way, they’ll need to be moved or you’ll need to find a new spot. Don’t start cutting until you’ve figured this out.

 

Backyard chicken coop window measuring

 

If you’re using a prefab window, consult the window installation kit and instructions before cutting.

 

Remember, you can’t do this twice, so measure twice, cut once!

 

To cut the hole in the wall, we started by tracing an outline of the window on the wall, and then used a drill to create a hole large enough for the sawsaw to fit through.

 

Using the tracing as a guide, we cut a hole the length and width of the window. Easy!

 

Backyard chicken coop window opening

Step 4: Following The Instruction With Your Window Kit, Install The Window

Installing the window was easy – most of the work is making all those pre-installation decisions!

 

Using the manufacturer screws, we easily affixed the window to the chicken coop wall.

 

If you’re using hardware cloth, add it inside the coop. You can use small hardware staples or screws with washers to keep it in place.

 

For extra security from predators, you can also add a wood frame over the hardware cloth to make it even harder to remove.

Backyard chicken coop window installation complete

Step 5: Finish Off The Installation By Framing Your New Chicken Coop Window

You can leave the window as is, or frame it to complete the look. I highly recommend framing it – it’ll keep the window looking nicer for longer, and cover up any mistakes (and we made plenty!).

 

You can also add shutters or a window box for an additional cute finishing touch to your new chicken coop window, like we did with this window:

 

Backyard chicken coop window installation tutorial