Winter in Australia has well and truly arrived, and we humans are not the only ones bearing the cold. It’s important that we keep our feathered friends warm as temperatures drop. If this is your first time keeping hens warm in winter or if you just want a refresher on things, here are a few tips to get you started.
Keep hens off the ground
The ground gets cold with the weather, especially in a chicken coop outside. It’s therefore important to provide a perch for your hens to rest on so they’re not stuck on the cold ground. To prevent your hens from freezing their unprotected feet, ensure your coop has a thick bedding on the ground. This could be made up of materials such as straw, hay, sand, and wood shavings.
Ensure dry conditions
Having a wet or moist coop can lower the temperature of your hens’ environment. Rain and humidity can dampen your coop, so make sure your coop’s roof is leak-proof and you have a ventilation system that keeps rain out. Having a good ventilation system is also useful for preventing moisture buildup, as an airtight coop can with little ventilation increase humidity.
Allow your hens to roost
Providing an adequate roosting environment is key to keeping your hens warm every winter. Chickens will fluff up close together to keep themselves warm through shared body heat, so it’s a good idea to keep a group of hens in the same coop so they can generate more body heat to keep warm.
To keep your hens warm, it’s essential to minimise the drafts getting into your coop. Cold winds cause temperature drops and increase the rate of heat loss in your coop. Therefore, it’s vital that damaged or aged coops with odd holes and gaps need to be repaired to reduce your hens being exposed to cold drafts.
Make sure they’re well-fed
Just like many animals, hens tend to eat more in winter to keep themselves warm from the inside, so don’t be surprised if your hens get more peckish as temperatures drop. To cater to your hens’ growing appetites, provide extra feed such as grains, cracked corn, and healthy treats.
If you need more tips and tricks for caring for your hens, be sure to check out our Hen Care Guide.