As long as they receive a balanced diet and are in excellent health, chickens are not particularly sensitive to dry cold, at least in our latitudes. On the other hand, humidity is much more detrimental to them, as are drafts. It is therefore necessary to anticipate in order to protect your hens in winter. Thus, they will have every chance to stay in great shape throughout the off season. Let’s do a check in.
What do chickens fear in winter?
Depending on the breed, these gallinaceans display a variable level of resistance to weather conditions. But in principle, they all withstand temperatures of -15 to -20 ° C and can withstand snow or even a rain shower without too much difficulty. It must be recognized that nature has endowed them with feathers capable of constituting an effective rampart.
However, these rustic poultry must still be able to shelter because they risk falling ill if they are exposed too long to Air Currents, at thehumidity, or if the temperatures drop below -25 ° C or -30 ° C. This is how a whole farmyard can be affected by a good cold, a coryza or even produce much fewer eggs than in mild temperatures.
The right solutions to protect your chickens in winter
As long as it has a place to shelter, the hen, which is far from being stupid, does not expose itself to bad weather if it can protect itself in a shelter. A breeder must therefore do everything in his power to ensure that when the time comes his birds have enough to spend the winter in excellent conditions. To do this, it is essential to respect the following points.
Coat their paws with petroleum jelly
The legs of the hens being sensitive to the cold, it is very useful to coat them with petroleum jelly to avoid frostbite and chapping. The advice is equally valid for their barb and their Crete which should receive the same care as the legs.
Give your chickens a henhouse worthy of the name
It must be of good quality in order to protect the hens from Air Currents and thehumidity. Its access must remain open during the day, which allows the birds to come and go as they see fit, and the door is closed at nightfall as soon as the hens are all settled on their perch. Ideally, the door to the chicken coop faces south.
In addition, a thick litter is essential and must be changed very frequently. It forms an insulating mat, perfect for the chickens to spend the winter in a dry place because excess humidity can really make them sick. It is therefore necessary to take additional care to check the good condition of the henhouse and immediately remedy any infiltration or other problem. If there are traces of mold on the walls, for example, or even saltpeter, it means that the hen house is too wet.
Let us not forget that thehumidity is conducive to proliferation of parasites and also favors some pathologies. When it snows or rains a lot, it is recommended to increase the protection of gallinaceae by installing, for example, a good tarpaulin on their shelter as an unstoppable bulwark against bad weather conditions. Thus, indoors, the hens can be dry and protected from drafts.
But you have to be careful: the air must still continue to circulate in the shelter so that the hens remain healthy. We do not therefore seal the henhouse 100%!
Heat the chicken coop
If the winter is particularly severe, it is possible to increase the room temperature by installing a heating system. But be careful: just a few degrees for avoid excessively large temperature differences between the inside and the outside which would only promote the proliferation of bacteria and viruses.
Some breeders place a few hot bricks in the shelter at the end of the day so that their hens can spend the night there in good conditions. But this solution is only suitable for very small poultry houses. For the more spacious, there are now antifreeze devices more elaborate or heat lamps equipped withinfrared bulbs, therefore perfectly secure because there is no question of exposing your poultry to the risk of fire … There is still the solution to install one or two solar panels, efficient and ecological.
Water and feed your chickens well in winter so that they do not get sick
It is imperative give water to your chickens because even in winter they need to drink. This water must be renewed very regularly to be always clean. When the temperatures are negative, the farmer must of course place the containers in a safe place, otherwise the water from the hens can turn into ice cubes … We recommend in extreme cases to give them slightly warm water.
About the gallinaceae food, it must be very balanced in order to provide their body with everything it needs on a daily basis to function perfectly. The breeder therefore distributes to his hens a diet well supplied with vitamins and rich in protein. Thus they can easily fight against winter ills and conserve their beautiful energy.