Dealing with the Chicken Winter Blues
Winters aren't always the most exciting time of year for your chickens. Lots of snow, cold winds, no bugs to munch on and less light. We've listed some ideas and products that will help your chickens deal with the winter blues and make the wait for spring seem much shorter!
Just because nothing is growing, it doesn't mean chickens can't enjoy fresh veggies and bugs in the winter. Whole heads of cabbage and lettuce can be hung in your run and it will allow your chickens peck away until there's nothing left. Hours of enjoyment can come out of a cheap cabbage head!
Next time you're out shopping, pop in the pet food store and pick up some mealworms or crickets (meant for lizards and snakes). Not only will your chickens love you for the treats, but they'll enjoy trying to catch the jumping crickets and chasing each other for mouthfuls of mealworms.
Black sunflower seeds are another great winter treat. They contain lots of oils and nutrients the chickens are looking for in the winter. If you feed your chickens scratch, there may already be some included. A handful a day for 3-5 birds makes a great treat.
The Chicken Swing
Chickens get bored. With less time free-ranging in the winter, your birds are probably spending more time in their run. Adding small logs and bricks are a great way to keep them occupied. They'll take turns hopping and climbing over their new obstacles. If you really want to keep them entertained (and yourself), the Chicken Swing is even better.
Chickens love a height advantage over their flock mates and the added swinging motion will have them all hopping up for a spot on their new toy. It may take a little training with some birds, but others take to it instantly.
Even in the winter, chicken need to dustbathe. The ground in your run may be frozen, but adding a plastic tub filled with sand or diatomaceous earth in a spot that won't get wet from snow or rain is perfect for keeping your birds happy and clean.
Although not the most exciting task, cleaning your coop and run in the winter is really important. It keeps your chickens healthy and clean which in turn will keep them happy through the cold months. With our Eglu coops, cleaning is a breeze and only takes a couple of minutes.
Your chickens are happy to spend lots of time outside as they would in the summer. They'll eat and drink in their run (never put food or water in any coop) as long as they have wind breaks. Chickens don't like draft and it causes them to lose body heat quickly. By covering your run (leaving some gaps for ventilation) with covers and tarps, your chickens will have a warmer winter.
Sometimes you try your best and you may get a bad egg in the flock. If a bird starts pecking in the winter time, it's really important to address the issue quickly. We recommend using Pinless Peepers or Bumpa Bits on all birds as soon as there are any signs of problems. For any bare patches of feather, we recommend Stop Pick be applied to stop more pecking.
Although anti-peck products are great, you still need to deal with the real issues which is usually boredom. In conjunction with anti-peck products, try some of the above tips as well.
What do you do to keep your chickens happy all winter? Do you have a special treat for them? Do you have an activity that keeps them active? Let us know in the comments below!
- Four Legs or Wings Pets