Chickens usually cope fairly well with the cold, after all they do have a built in feather duvet, but they really do not like a wet or drafty coop. Bear in mind that when chickens are cold and miserable, their egg production is likely to reduce as they put all their energy into keeping warm. A drop in egg production is more noticeable with the rare breeds as hybrids have been bred to have a good egg production throughout the year.
Here are some top tips to help keep your chooks warm over the cold weather:
1) In addition to freely providing your hens layers pellets or mash throughout the day, offer them hot mash with some corn (to give them a carbohydrate boost) before they go up to roost. You can put in some treats for them too, such as raisins, and it’s a good opportunity to mix in a bit of Poultry Spice to keep them healthy and happy.
2) Make sure you check that the chickens’ water hasn’t frozen overnight. If it has, replace it or top it up with fresh warm water. If you have lots of hens (and lots of other jobs too) consider buying a heated base to put under your drinker (galvanised drinkers only!)
3) Chickens can create a lot of heat when they are huddled together with their feathers all fluffed up. Make ure that they all have at least 8 inches of perch to roost on – although in the cold they will huddle up much closer!
4) Insulate their coop, it will make a huge difference. It will also stop the coop getting too hot in the summer. Get rid of all the drafts, but allow some ventilation.
5) Ensure that the bedding in the coop is extra dry. Clean them out frequently so that the bedding is clean and fresh.
6) Finally if you have some hens which are having a heavy moult in winter, or some bald looking battery hens, you could always knit them a little jumper - click here for more info!