Sunday, October 3, 2010

Preparing the Chickens for Winter

Chickens need some special care now that the crisp air of fall is upon us. Winter will sneak up on us, so I've spent the last few days getting everything prepared for my chickens to stay comfortable and healthy. Most of my chickens have almost finished molting and are looking great with thick plummage in readiness for the inevitable cold and snow.

My yard chickens, those that have enjoyed primarily being free rangers all summer now are cooped up securely much of the day. This is to protect them from predators that tend to become more aggressive during the late fall and winter when other prey migrate to lower elevations. They're a group of very independent birds, lead by Radio Flyer. He's a rooster who loves and protects his harem of five hens, but he'll need some help during cold weather and will probably be grateful for warmth and food that is readily plentiful.

All of my birds that have been molting still get some kitty kibbles added to their diet for extra protein. Regrowing feathers takes a lot of nutrients. Quite a few of my chickens went through last winter and made it just fine, as they had plenty of food, and I thawed out their water regularly. The wind can get terribly fierce, so I've put up windbreaks to shield them.

Over the next couple of weeks all the pens will be well cleaned and I'll increase the depth of bedding for all my birds. They should all remain healthy throughout the winter, they've proven to be very hardy. Just in case we get so much snow that driving is impossible I'll be buying extra bags of feed so I don't have to worry about running out.

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