When December rolls around, I have begun to think about–and take action–to winterize my coop to make like easier for the birds and for me.
There are a few simple things you need to know, some basic things to do, and you’ll be ready for the worst weather. I like to be prepared for the worst weather, whether or not it happens.
First of all, let’s get something right out there: chickens can deal with cold weather very well. They can handle cold far better than they are able to handle hot weather, in fact. Think of it this way–they are wearing down coats with several layers of feathers that trap heat and keep them warm. While this can spell trouble during the dog days of August, its fantastic right now when the temperatures are dropping.
So as winter comes on, keep this thought in mind.
However, even with the chickens’ ability to maintain body heat, there are a number of things you can do to make sure they get through the cold weather as comfortable as possible. Some of these precautions will also make your life easier as well.
Dampness, not cold, is the enemy most of the time in your coop. Dampness can come from several different sources and you will have to be a detective and try to figure out where, in your coop, it will come from.
For example, you still have to have fresh air circulate in your coop even after you seal up all those cracks and places where the winter wind can creep in. If you insulate your coop, don’t overdo it and block off all fresh air. Its worth a small amount of heat loss to ensure that there is an exchange of air. A small wire-covered opening near the ceiling will do the trick while keeping predators out at night.
Remember, the birds have all those downy layers of feathers to trap heat in, but trapping the ammonia fumes from the droppings can hurt their lungs or even cause them to get sick.
I’ll talk in a future post about some other things you need to think about as winter creeps in. And keep an eye on the EarthEats website…I have a post coming up with some totally new information about feeding your chickens in the winter.
What do you do for feeding in the winter? I’d love to hear!