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How to prepare your chickens for winter

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As the seasons change, so do the needs of your backyard chickens. With winter only a few weeks away and the nights becoming increasingly chilly, now is the time to look at key adjustments to your chickens’ living environment. Here are our tips to ensure your chickens remain happy and healthy throughout the cooler months:

Lighting:

During winter natural daylight shortens, which leads to a reduction or halt in egg production. This is a survival method used by chickens when the temperature drops to maintain body heat. To have continuous egg production during winter, you need to provide artificial lighting in the form of a light bulb, with the additional lighting time divided between early morning and late evening. Total lighting hours (including natural light) should not exceed 16 hours in total and the artificial light should be distributed evenly in the chicken coop.

Heating:

It is necessary to keep chickens warm during winter. Ensure the chicken coop is insulated and aim for an optimal temperature of between 20-25C. In extremely cold weather, the non-feathered parts of the chicken (combs, feet and wattle) can be protected from frostbite by applying petroleum jelly.

Ventilation:

In ensuring the chickens have good lighting and heat, do not block the airflow. The chicken coop needs to maintain good ventilation to ensure no build up of heat, moisture or ammonia. The chicken coop could be designed to have windows at the top end, which can be closed at night to prevent a cold draft.

Water:

Do not forget to provide ample clean water to your chickens. Birds can become dehydrated from the dry environment. If possible, use a heated water container.

Feed:

In colder temperatures, chickens tend to eat more to keep warm. In times like these, they can eat 10-20 per cent more. Providing chickens with a high quality supplement such as Perfect Poultry gives them much needed nutritional support to go through these stressful times.

Always observe the behaviour of your chickens and adjust the above to suit to their requirements!