The days are getting shorter, football season has arrived and before long winter will be upon us. Is your chicken coop ready? Here’s a list of things I do to prepare my laying flock and their housing for the cold months ahead.
- Seal up gaps and cracks that may allow water leaks. Fall is a good time to make any needed repairs to your coop. I will seal up small gaps or cracks in the metal siding of my coop with some latex caulk, especially on the metal roof where nail holes may allow rain to leak through. Chickens add enough moisture to the coop, so I don’t need rain and snow adding even more. Excess moisture in a coop can lead to respiratory illnesses and frozen combs and wattles in sub-zero weather.
- Consider adding insulation to the roof. If you have a metal building like I do, you may find that your coop “rains” inside because of condensation. When the air inside the coop is warmer than the outside air, excess moisture condenses on the underside of the roof and drips on the birds and the bedding. Not good! This fall I am installing insulation between the joists of the coop’s roof. If you decide to insulate your coop, make sure the insulation is OK for use in humid conditions.
- Have a plan for keeping water unfrozen. There are several products that keep waterers from freezing, so make sure you have what you need before the really cold weather gets here. During the summer, my flock uses the red watering cups plumbed to a 55 gallon drum. But when freezing weather arrives, I switch over to metal waterers on heated bases.
- Consider supplemental heat if you have elderly or non-cold hardy breeds in your flock. While I do not recommend the use of heat lamps in the coop for adults, I do use this heated mat in my coop to help some of my birds with large, floppy combs and wattles to warm themselves. I’m looking at you, Cream Legbars! You’re beautiful and lay pretty eggs, but those combs are not winter friendly!
- Make a plan for dealing with wind, snow and ice in your run or yard. I use these clear tarps attached to the fencing to provide a windbreak and prevent snow from drifting around the coop and into the yard. I also will spread straw or old hay in the yard when there is snow on the ground to encourage the chickens to get out of their coop and into the fresh air and sunshine, even on cold days.
I hope you can find some helpful hints for your coop in my fall to-do list. You can also read about how I manage my coop in the winter in our blog on the Deep Litter Method. Let me know what winter prep plans you have for your coop by leaving me a comment below.