As warm summer days wind down and you begin preparing for pumpkins, turkeys, and even snowmen, there’s one thing you can’t forget to do as a responsible chicken owner—preparing your chicken coop for winter. While many chicken breeds are hardy birds that can withstand cooler temperatures, if you don’t adequately prepare their home for winter’s worst conditions, you risk losing egg production and weaker birds becoming sick.
To keep your birds healthy over winter, you must take some time to ensure their beautiful coop is in good condition, food and water supplies are adequate, and there’s proper heating and ventilation. After doing these inspections, if you find that your current henhouse is not up to standards, visit Sun Rise Sheds in Redfield, Iowa, to explore all our custom chicken coop options!
1. Inspect Your Chicken Coop for Damage
The first step in preparing your chicken’s home for winter is to inspect it. You’ll want to look for holes, damage, or excessive drafts in the pen and repair those issues. However, if the damage is too severe or your coop is older than five years, it may be time to replace it. Sun Rise Sheds can provide you with fully assembled and quality-built chicken coops that are prepared to handle winter weather.
2. Thoroughly Clean Inside if Needed
Regular maintenance and deep cleanings of your flock’s home are essential for a healthy living environment. If it’s been more than six months since you last deep cleaned the coop, now is the perfect time to do so. Thoroughly cleaning it twice a year with a bleach solution ensures you remove any potentially harmful bacteria to keep your flock healthy.
3. Check Roosts and Nesting Boxes
While cleaning the hen house, it’s also a good idea to ensure roosts and nesting boxes are not damaged. Chickens will naturally roost together in the winter to keep warm, so ensure not only that your roosts are in good shape but that you have adequate roosting space. You don’t want to find your chickens on the cold ground of the coop where they could freeze because there wasn’t enough space for them elsewhere.
4. Plan for Heating Needs
Without proper heat, hens will stop producing eggs, and weaker members of your flock may become sick. Ensure you have some type of heating source to keep their living space at a comfortable temperature. A 60-watt lamp will work fine if your coop is well built, like the ones we have here at Sun Rise Sheds.
5. Add Artificial Light to Promote Egg Production
Sunlight is vital for egg production, and with less sunlight available in the winter, you need to plan for your chickens to soak up as much of that Vitamin D as possible. Make sure there is plenty of sunlight that comes in the windows of your chicken coop or add artificial lighting if needed. Chickens don’t need more than 10 hours a day of sunlight, so installing a timer on the light works well to control it.
6. Clean Vents
Another step to prepare your chicken coop for winter is to clean the vents. Even in the winter, proper ventilation is essential. Vents should be located toward the roof so warm and moist air can rise and escape through the vents while being replaced with cooler dry air. Proper ventilation at the right height prevents your chicks from feeling the draft from the cold air while lessening humidity and preventing mold.
7. Provide Extra Bedding
Change the bedding in your chicken’s shelter often and provide extra in the winter. Use pine wood shavings with large flakes to keep your birds healthy. Cedar shavings are dangerous for chickens, as their oils and scents can be toxic, so you shouldn’t use those types for bedding. You may also want to consider the Deep Litter Method to keep your animals warm.
8. Add Vitamins and Protein to Food
Chickens molt in the fall and egg production stops. Now is an excellent time to add extra vitamins to their food to promote a healthy molt and ensure they remain strong through winter. Make certain their food supply is adequately stocked with choice products that contain high protein and carbohydrates, which helps produce the body heat needed to keep warm.
9. Invest in Heated Water Founts
If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing, you should install heated water founts in the chicken coops before winter. This way, chickens always have access to drinkable water that doesn’t freeze when temperatures drop below freezing. Plus, it can save you multiple trips to the coop on bitterly cold days to break up ice in their water supply.
10. Create an Enclosed Pen for Exercise
Even in the winter, chickens need space for exercise and scratching. If you have a chicken run with wire fencing, consider enclosing it in a greenhouse-style to give them activity space while still protecting them from the harsh elements. They can easily access it as they desire and come back into the coop when they are finished.
Visit Our Showroom in Redfield, IA, to View All of Our In-Stock Coops!
Caring for chickens is a time-consuming but rewarding job. We know how important your backyard chickens are to you and your family. That’s why at Sun Rise Sheds, we only provide high-quality wooden chicken coops assembled by expert craftsmen. We put as much detail and attention into everything we create so that you can be confident that your chicken’s home from Sun Rise Sheds will help protect your flock during winter.Visit our showroom today at 15406 240th Street in Redfield, Iowa, to see all our chicken coops in stock and get expert advice on the perfect one for you. And if you need backyard storage sheds to store your feed or other chicken supplies, we can help with that too!