10 Tips for Winter Flock Management

Dec 18, 2020
Megan Hasenour | Marketing Communications Manager

backyard flock, chicken in the winter

Keep your hens happy and healthy during the coldest months. Here are 10 tips to manage your flock this winter:
  1. Don’t use a heater in the coop

It’s important for our flock to stay warm, but a heater is not something you want to put into your chicken coop for warmth this winter. Chickens huddle together for warmth.
  1. Natural Litter

You’ve heard the saying, “@*its getting deep in here”. In a chicken coop, that’s a good thing. Allowing the chicken litter in the coop to build up over the spring, summer and fall is important for the winter. The litter along with bedding material should be about a foot deep on the floor of the coop. This composting mixture will give off heat, warming the coop naturally.
  1. Let there be light

Some hens may lay great throughout the winter, but others may struggle. Winter days bring shorter days to our flock family, supplementing light may help the hens who are stressed from the shortened days.

chicken feed, backyard flock
  1. Feed supports warmth

After a long cold day out in the elements, we (humans) enjoy a nice warm meal to fill our tummies. Your flock’s favorite food after a long cold day is cracked corn. This will fill their bellies and give them something to digest during the night, ultimately keeping them warmer.
  1. Chickens love to play

Naturally we (humans) get stir crazy if we are cooped up all day. The same is true for chickens. Try giving them a head of cabbage on a string. They go wild pecking at the “toy” while it swings around. Also, consider putting a Purina Flock Block in your coop. It will keep your flock engaged, moving around and not pecking each other.
  1. Sunroom

During the cold months, sunny days are the best days. Think about the warmth a greenhouse brings to plants. You could create this same type of structure out of things laying around. By assembling a type of greenhouse onto your girls coop, they will be able to wander around in it on nice days soaking up the sun. The “sunroom” will provide some fresh air and they won’t be all crammed into their coop.

chicken comb, chicken wattle
  1. Protect combs and wattles from frostbite

Breeds with large combs and wattles are prone to frostbite, since they are used to living in warmer conditions. If your birds have larger combs and wattles, you can protect them by smearing petroleum jelly on them.
  1. Snowbird

Your flock wishes they could be a snowbird and move south for winter. But for obvious reasons they are cooped up in the cold. Naturally your chickens love to move around but on a snowy day, they won’t be caught meandering around in it. Scatter straw on the ground where they usually walk, to make their outside stroll more pleasant.
  1. They do what they want to

Chickens roam and do what they want to. During bad weather, chickens will make their way to the coop to get out of the elements if they want to. They are hardier than you think, so don’t spend too much time trying to round up your birds and get them indoors before or during inclement weather.

chicken roosting, backyard flock
  1. Roosting

When your flock roosts, they fluff themselves out. This allows them to keep warm. Roosts should be 2-3 feet off the ground and there should be plenty of space for all of your birds. Check on them in the evening with a flashlight when they are roosting, if a chicken is on the ground, there isn’t enough space for all of them to roost.
These tips are helpful tools to facilitate keeping your chickens happy, warm and entertained during the coldest months.
For more managing tips for your backyard flock, contact our Dale Feed Store.