What To Do In Your Chicken Coop In September

What To Do In Your Chicken Coop In September

September is here…..which means it’s time to think about what to do in your chicken coop in September!

 

It’s pumpkin season, and there’s lots you can do in your coop this month! Help your flock stay healthy and keep your coop in top shape with these tips!

 

If it gets cold early in your area, do a final deep clean before cool weather sets in.

You won’t want to do it when the ground is frozen and you need 3 sets of gloves to stay warm. If you live in a temperate area, now is still the time to deep clean your coop before the days get shorter and you run out of time.

 

You can also decide if the deep litter method is for you.

silkie pullet backyard chicken

Double check windows/doors for tight seals during chilly fall nights

When the wind is howling and there’s freezing rain, those tight seals can mean the difference between life and death. Just double check all your windows and doors seal well, and if not, fix it.

 

Offer your flock pumpkin and/or pumpkin seeds every week. They’ll love the treat, and it’s super healthy for them!

Pumpkin is full of vitamins and minerals, and chickens LOVE to peck at it. The pumpkin seeds might (repeat, might) help your flock rid themselves of worms (studies are inconclusive, but it’s can’t hurt), or at the very least, provide a yummy distraction since bugs and leaves are dying off.

 

You can also make a pumpkin planter like this one, and offer it to your flock when you’re done with it. Just be sure not to paint it!

 

If you have chicks, double check your coop stays the right temperature at night.

This will depend on the age of your chicks – if they only have down or are partially feathered, they will need your help to stay warm.

 

If not, either fix it or come up with a plan to keep chicks warm enough until they’re fully feathered. Remember that heat lamps get very hot and can cause a fire, so avoid them.

 

Hang some fall wreaths or add fall flowers to window boxes

Fall is all about color – and adding a wreath or flowers to your window boxes can brighten up your surroundings and help your flock feel pampered.

 

Backyard chicken coop window

 

If your coop is painted, do a fresh coat before cool weather sets in so your coop looks bright and colorful when the leaves are gone.

Ditto above. When fall’s colors fade, you’ll be glad you made the extra effort to repaint your coop so it looks cheerful even when it’s grey outside.

 

Start adding even more protein to your flock’s diet with mealworms, black soldier fly larvae, or Fluffiest Feathers Ever!

If your flock is molting, a high protein diet will help their feathers regrow. High protein diets also make sure flocks are in great shape to battle the cooler weather. You can feed a high protein diet or treats full time, or just during the molting season.

 

Make a plan for how you’ll keep their water from freezing

It’s bound to happen if you live in a cool area – so now is the time to decide how you’ll prevent freezing, or at least keep fresh water consistently available.

 

Here’s my best ideas for keeping your chickens’ water from freezing.

 

Spend more time with your flock – soon, the weather will be cold and you won’t want to be outside as much.

Nuff said. Here’s a great treat you can make – it includes pumpkin seeds, sage, and more!

 

Add a light to your coop if you want eggs all winter.

As the days get shorter, your hens might stop laying. This is natural, but it’s okay to still want eggs all winter. If you do, then add a light to their coop.

 

If you don’t have power in your coop, you can use a solar generator or a battery powered light. The bulb should stay cool and be a daylight simulator. You can also use a timer to turn it automatically on and off.

What To Do In Your Coop In November

What To Do In Your Coop In November

November is here…..and there’s plenty you can do in your chicken coop to keep your hens and roosters healthy.

 

Fall is typically when we see an uptick in predators AND you might notice signs your flock is slowing down due to the lack of light and the cold.

 

You likely already noticed your chickens aren’t laying as many eggs…..and there’s lots of reasons for that!

 

Now is when your flock needs some extra TLC and support.

 

Here’s 7 care items you should do in November to raise a healthy flock of backyard chickens!

backyard chicken baby chick

Buy all the pumpkins you can at a hefty discount

Get out there and start hauling some pumpkins home. Leftover Halloween pumpkins go for about $1 after everyone’s done trick or treating.

 

Ones to especially keep an eye on are the “ugly” pumpkins, also known as Hubbard squashes.

 

They’re typically $9 before Halloween, but you can score them for nearly free, since most people don’t realize they’re edible!

 

Store your haul in a cool, dark location. They’ll keep for months, and you’ll be providing your flock with LOTS of juicy nutrients right when they need it most.

 

Want ALL the pumpkins a store has? You might be able to get a bulk discount if you talk to the manager!

 

Be sure to remove the rind before feeding or crack them open – your chickens likely WON’T peck through the hard rind.

 

Have a plan for freezing rain days

Freezing rain is even more deadly than snow or even sub zero temperatures. And the WORST is when it starts to rain and you have no way to keep your flock dry and warm.

 

Make a plan NOW and decide how you’ll deal with freezing rain so your chickens stay warm. Is your run uncovered? Can you cover it at the drop of a hat?

 

Is your coop completely enclosed? What will you do if a hen is wet, and it’s 20 degrees outside?

 

Making these decisions NOW makes life easier down the road for you AND your backyard chickens.

 

Check for signs of predators

Prevent a problem before it becomes a big problem. Don’t wait for a hen to go missing – look for signs of predators and get rid of them before you lose a backyard chicken.

 

Look for:

  • Footprints
  • Flighty flock/sudden change in flock behavior
  • Critters getting into your trash or other signs

 

Signs such as footprints and a trash-filled yard are easy to spot signs. But flock behavior requires a bit more introspection on your side.

 

Note your flock’s behavior: Have they suddenly stopped going to one part of your property? Are they insisting on roosting constantly?

 

Any behavior that’s different is a sign that a predator might be around.

 

If you have a “gut feeling” something isn’t right but you can’t tell exactly what, you can always install a game camera.

backyard chicken rooster with comb

Want eggs? Add a light bulb to your coop

This time of year, I get LOTS of questions about why chickens stop laying eggs. Usually, it’s due to the fewer daylight hours.

 

If you want an egg supply during the winter, try adding a daylight simulating bulb to your chicken coop, and let it run 2 hours before dawn and 2 hours after sunset.

 

Of course, if you don’t want eggs, then skip this suggestion!

 

Take photos of your flock with all the autumn leaves!

Don’t forget to enjoy this season – fall only happens once a year, and it’s a HUGE photo opp!

 

Spend a few afternoons taking photos of your chickens against the pretty fall leaves. You won’t regret it!

 

If you’re not a great photographer, you can always hire a pro! People hire photographers for their dogs, right?

 

Add “warming spices” on cold days

Certain spices will increase circulation, which can help your flock get an extra little kick of warmth.

 

Some options are:

  • Chili
  • Nutmeg
  • Sage
  • Prickly Ash

 

You can add the herbs to their feed to ensure your flock eats them. Just a pinch per chicken will do!

 

Provide herbs that are traditionally used to support healthy immune systems

You might worry your flock will feel the effects of winter, just like humans do. To support them and to raise healthy backyard chickens, you can add herbs to their feed.

 

These herbs are traditionally used to support healthy immune systems:

  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Calendula
  • Elderberries
  • Echinacea

 

You can feed them separately or together in an herbal blend such as PCM StrongHen.

 

Do a sweep to check for mice or rats

Lastly, do an inspection to double check no mice or rats have taken up residence in your coop. Especially in older coops, there can be nooks and crannies.

 

Mice and rats will make messes, leave diseases and fleas, and possibly cause your backyard chickens to get upset, or at least change their daily patterns. Not good!<!– Default Statcounter code for Chicken-coop-november
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What Do Chickens Need Over Winter To Stay Healthy? [Podcast]

What Do Chickens Need Over Winter To Stay Healthy? [Podcast]

Winter is coming….are you prepared?

 

This week on What The Cluck?! we talk about the specific steps you should take to help your backyard flock weather the snow, ice, freezing rain, and cold temperatures when Old Man Winter comes around.

 

You’ll learn:

  • What to do to make sure your coop is a safe, warm home for them
  • How to feed your chickens in winter
  • Great boredom busters for those dull, long, wet days

 

 

Links we discuss:

How to Keep Your Chicken’s Water From Freezing

Be sure to grab the downloadable Coop Checklist here

Coconut Oil Suet cakes Recipe

 

Chickens- Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock AD (1)-min

I’d Like to Hear From You!

How do you prepare your chicken coop for winter? Leave a comment below!

 

Do Chickens Need Heat In Winter? Let’s Keep ‘Em Safe!

Do Chickens Need Heat In Winter? Let’s Keep ‘Em Safe!

Winter is coming, and that means I’m getting a lot of emails asking things like: “Do chickens need heat in winter?” and “Do you need heat lamps for chickens?”

 

Winter is a tricky time on the homestead because you’re navigating through cold weather, wet weather, snowy weather – sometimes all in the same day.

 

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that cold weather isn’t much of an issue with chickens….but cold WET weather can be deadly.

 

Every winter, I spend half my time wringing my hands because our chickens play outside when it’s freezing rain, and don’t have enough sense to go into the coop when the temperature drops further.

 

We haven’t lost a chicken to the cold yet (knock on wood), but I do stress in the winter months over their health.

 

So, to solve the question “do chickens need heat in winter”, the answer I’ll give you is: It depends.

 

Let’s look further.

 

Can chickens survive winter?

 

In short, yes. Chickens do quite well in freezing temperatures. They have natural defenses against the cold, and their feathers provide protection.

 

How?

 

Well, over winter, you might notice your chickens fluffing and ruffling their feathers. This isn’t just to make them look cute (although they do).

 

When your flock puffs their feathers, they’re creating a gap of air, which acts like a layer of insulation between them and the cold.

 

During the day, your flock likely will move around a lot; this keeps their bodies even warmer, including their feet, combs, and wattles.

 

At night, when they’re quiet, your chickens will keep their feet warm by crouching over them and insulating them with their feathers.

 

As for their combs and wattles, you probably will notice your chickens tucking their heads into their wings at night to protect them from frostbite.

 

So, chickens naturally are pretty prepared for cold weather.

 

Do chicken coops need heat?

 

Every winter, I get asked “Do we need heat lamps for chickens in winter?”

 

I’m personally not a fan of heating chicken coops, and I think heat lamps are fire hazards. We don’t heat ours.

 

Before I got wise to the dangers of heat lamps, more than once we woke up to a house filled with smoke because a chick or a piglet messed around and knocked the heat lamp over – and these were heat lamps with regular 75 watt bulbs in them.

 

So, that gives you some indication just how dangerous they are – and they’re exponentially MORE dangerous with the red heat lamp bulbs.

 

The red heat bulbs get extremely hot – we’ve tested their temperatures as high as 140 degrees before.

 

Chickens like to constantly reinforce their pecking orders, and all it takes is one careless hen to knock over a heat lamp and cause a fire.

 

Every winter, I’m sent photos of coops totally destroyed in a heat lamp fire – and the owner’s flock is totally gone.

 

I’m just plain not a fan of chicken coop heat lamps.

 

In most cases, chickens don’t need heat in winter, EXCEPT if you live in a very cold environment, such as parts of Minnesota or Canada that can easily reach -30 degrees F.

 

If you’re concerned your flock won’t be warm enough on particularly cold nights, offer your chickens some extra feed or cracked corn so they have extra calories to burn.

 

You can also feed your flock an extra meal or offer their grain free choice to keep their calorie count up.

Need some chicken treat recipe ideas? Check out my ebook Cluck Cakes!

do chickens need heat in winter

Freezing rain: The silent killer

 

More so than any other type of winter weather, freezing rain can devastate your flock.

And chickens, unfortunately, don’t always have enough sense to keep out of freezing rain.

 

Last winter was terrible with cold rains in freezing temperatures, and more than once, we had to run out and cover the runs with huge tarps to keep the rain from hitting our birds.

 

While in snow and cold wind chickens can fluff their feathers, if they’re doused with water from a cold rain, they have a harder time fluffing their feathers – and it can dangerously lower their body temperatures and cause stress on their bodies.

 

It’s hard to get your flock dry in cold weather once they’ve gotten drenched.

 

When there’s freezing rain in the forecast, our flock stays inside the coop for the day with some extra treats and boredom busters.

 

If your chickens DO become wet in cold weather, then I recommend using a heat lamp for a couple hours and toweling everyone off (if you don’t have too many).

 

Once everyone’s dry, then remove the heat lamp and keep them inside until the weather is better.

 

What Does a Chicken Coop Need in Winter?

 

Ok, now that we’ve established my deep and unrelenting hatred of heat lamps, let’s talk about how you CAN protect your flock over winter.

 

While your flock will naturally insulate themselves by fluffing their feathers, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to cold breezes.

 

One of the best ways you can protect your flock is by giving them a draft-free coop.


What does this mean?

 

Before cold sets in, go over your coop.

 

  • If it has windows, are they sealed well?
  • Does their door shut well at night?
  • Are there any gaps in the walls that can cause drafts?
  • Is the floor solid? Does it have holes?
  • Does the roof keep the coop dry?

 

When the chilly winds pick up, your flock will thank you for taking the time to eliminate any drafts from their house.

 

They’ll thank you even more for making sure that any cold rain or snow can’t get into their coop, so be sure to double check their roof and keep windows and doors closed when the winter weather gets really nasty.

 

Ventilation

 

You should also make sure your coop has adequate ventilation.

 

Because chickens will naturally stay inside their coop more during the winter, they’re more likely to drop manure inside their home….and breathe the noxious fumes of ammonia.

 

Keeping the coop clean and ensuring there’s adequate ventilation will help prevent any respiratory problems from creeping up.

 

Preventing frostbite

Frostbite is caused by cold combined with moisture, either from something like rain or moisture from the buildup of manure.

 

Like any other living organism, chickens are at risk for frostbite over winter, particularly on their combs, wattles, and legs.

 

All is not lost however. Frostbite CAN be prevented by coating the combs and wattles in a thick layer of petroleum jelly….if your chickens will sit still long enough.

 

Keeping Eggs from Freezing

 

When it comes to the question “do chickens need heat in the winter?,” the question isn’t just about your flock.

 

Eggs can easily freeze when the mercury dips, causing them to explode and become useless, so you should take extra care to gather eggs multiple times during the day.

 

If they are frozen, but unbroken, then let them thaw gently at room temperature. If they’re broken, then they can be fed to your chickens, other critters (like pigs), or composted.

 

Keeping your flock prepared for nasty weather is critical to helping your flock survive winter.

 

The bottom line is keep them dry, keep their home dry, and give them extra feed, and they’ll do just fine when the cold temperatures hit.

Do CHICKS need a heat lamp? Well, that’s a whole other story. Check out my Podcast on Raising Chicks Naturally for some advice on heat lamps for chicks!

I’d like to hear from you!


Did you ever wonder “Do chickens need heat in winter?” Do you have any tips to share? Leave a comment below!

 

References:

Hassanpour H, Khalaji-Pirbalouty V, Nasiri L, Mohebbi A, Bahadoran S. “Oxidant and enzymatic antioxidant status (gene expression and activity) in the brain of chickens with cold-induced pulmonary hypertension.” Int J Biometeorol. 2015 Nov;59(11):1615-21. doi: 10.1007/s00484-015-0968-z. Epub 2015 May 5. Accessed August 30, 2016.

 

Singh Y, Ravindran V, Wester TJ, Molan AL, Ravindran G. “Influence of feeding coarse corn on performance, nutrient utilization, digestive tract measurements, carcass characteristics, and cecal microflora counts of broilers.” Poult Sci. 2014 Mar;93(3):607-16. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03542. Accessed August 30, 2016


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