- Jun 28, 2021
(Brace yourselves) --- it turns out ~ They CAN -and- They WILL !!
Despite our efforts and desire to control everything,
“chickens” are able to survive the winter months.
Truth is, chickens are VERY well equipped to keep themselves warm
(because), after all, they (are) “woodland birds”.
Chickens have downy under feathers (fluff), trapping warm air against
their body. The outer feathers keep the cold air from penetrating.
If the chickens are on a perch, they will cover their feet with the belly feathers.
Do not add heat lamps ! It’s simply not necessary.
A Chickens average body-Temp is 106 F. (41.1 C) --
What about the comb and wattles?
Won’t they be exposed and possibly have frostbite?
Not if the coop is well built, has ventilation at the top and is relatively
draft free. (The coop should not be air tight).
In fact that would definitely lead to frost bite. The coop needs ventilation
to carry the warm moist air up and out of the coop. Otherwise the moist air
will lie on the surface of the combs, leading to frost bite.
Frost bite looks like black blemishes on the chicken’s comb.
Our coop consists mainly of 2 parts:
A nesting box where they lay eggs, which sits on top of a 6 ft. long,
metal frame, wooden top folding table, with lean-to style sides on 4 sides -
a ramp going up to the top of the table, and a gap for them to access
underneath. This gives em a place to go when it rains or when its
very windy / blustery. There is a food tray in there, and a layer of wood
shavings, dried grass / hay - and places to perch.
And when it's windy, wet or blustery cold, they are in there !
If you are wondering ‘why’ you have less eggs in the fall & winter --
It's just part of their seasonal-cycle.
Chickens lay less in the fall and winter for a reason.
Starting in late summer, as the days begin to shorten,
your chickens lose feathers in the annual molting process.
If the chickens have eaten enough ‘insects’ or other protein sources,
the feathers will be almost fully regrown.
Adding extra lights and so forth disrupts their natural cycle.
Artificial lighting holds the chickens back from getting a natural break.
Your hens (may) still be recovering from the “big-molt” ~ (rebuilding the feathers).
Even though they may look smooth and glossy on the outside,
the annual molt can take a toll on the inside.
This is why egg production is still off. Left to their own time table,
and with good nutrition, your hens will gradually regain the protein
and calcium reserves that they need to produce eggs.
Unless they are ill, egg production will naturally pick up again.
You will notice this generally (after) the Winter solstice.
The amount of daylight is a determining factor, don’t misunderstand.
They take notice of everything and they (will) take notice of the natural sun light
shining. When hens will notice the gradual increase in daylight,
egg production will increase again.
Make SURE you check their “WATER”(especially) in the winter!!
Water is a necessary nutrient all year long. Check it EVERYDAY.
Especially if you live where the winter months are extra-cold,
and below freezing.
Make sure that your flock has a source of fresh water through out
the day. This can be a little challenging, especially when temperatures
drop well below freezing. There are a number of founts designed to keep
the water above freezing. Submersible water heaters,
heated bases for metal waterers and electric heated bowls are all helpful,
“if” you have electric power in the coop. (And we don’t).
We generally just keep an eye on their water.
At night they are hunkered down and asleep. Come day-break,
they get fresh water. During the winter our outside hose is in storage.
When it’s below freezing (even below zero), we tote water from the house
out to the pen /coop.
Remember: They ARE feathered, “woodland Birds” -
well equipped by a “competent designer” (GOD).
They’ve lived a long time year after year,
generation after generation - without interference (from us) -
without “us” putting “shoes” and “sweaters” on them -
without us tying little knit “hats” on their little feathery heads !
They simply DON’T REQUIRE that sort of interference from “us” !
FOOD ~ WATER ~ SHELTER. Easy peasy, 1,2,3.
Feed and water birds more often when it’s below freezing.
Energy needs increase in winter. Animals expend a considerable
amount of energy to stay warm and will eat more feed.