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Winter Storm Preparations for Backyard Chicken Keepers

Tillys NestLiving in the northeast, we have just become accustomed to snow and sometimes lots of it during winter. It is always important for us to keep an eye on the weather, as we can quickly go from a morning filled with abundant sunshine into an afternoon with complete white out conditions. One of the most important things that we do when we know a storm is coming is to prepare the chickens and their housing to make weathering the storm easier. Here are some tips as to what we do as we prepare for snow.

First, we are sure to clean the chicken coop.

  • We clean out the coop and nesting boxes and replace everything with a thicker fresh layer of bedding.

Add a supply of fresh water and food inside the coop.

  • You can never tell if the chickens will need to stay inside the coop longer than usual due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • This keeps the food from getting wet and spoiling. It also helps to slow down the freezing process of the waterers.

Keep extra emergency water on hand for your flock.

  • Estimate how much water your flock consumes in one week.
  • Store that amount of water inside so that it doesn't freeze.
  • You may need to rely on this in case your water service is interrupted.

Visit the feed store.

  • Stock up on enough extra feed, grit, oyster shells to last at least a week. Also, stock up on extra pine shavings to add to the muddy run and refresh the coop as needed.

Take inventory of your chicken first-aid kit and restock as necessary.

Snowy chicken coop

Consider adding a layer of plastic sheeting around the chicken run.

  • This cuts down on drafts.
  • Keeps the snow out of the run.
  • Keeps you from having to shovel out the run.
  • It allows the chickens more space for roaming even though a storm is happening outside.
  • It helps to prevent boredom, if they are locked in the coop otherwise.
  • It helps to keep your flock dry.
  • It helps to prevent the run from getting soaked, which can lead to illness such as coccidiosis.
  • It also keeps the flock's favorite dust bathing spots dry too.

Reinforce any predator proofing and locks.

 We don't heat the coop.

  • If you heat your coop, you will need to come up with a back-up plan for heating your coop if the power is to fail for an extended period of time. Sudden changes in temperatures will stress and can kill your flock. If you have already started heating your coop this year, you cannot stop this year, but you can rethink heating the coop for next winter.

Consider locking the flock inside the coop during the worst of the storm, especially over night for safety.

Keep a shovel near your door along with some snow boots and mittens.

  • Think about the best way to access your chickens after the storm is through.

Chickens are snow blind.

  • Chickens will not venture out onto an unshoveled snowy area.
  • To coax them out, shovel off some walking space and toss on some scratch or treats.
nebraskadave
1/5/2014 10:54:26 AM

Melissa, I didn't know chickens were snow blind. I learn something new, it seems, every time I read one of your blog posts. It's always good to be prepared for isolation during storms especially during the cold winter months. The weather here is nasty cold today. The weather service is as follows: ... WIND CHILL WARNING NOW IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO MIDNIGHT CST MONDAY NIGHT... * WIND CHILL VALUES... ALTHOUGH THEY COULD TOUCH 20 BELOW FOR A WHILE THIS MORNING... THEY WILL FALL TO 30 BELOW TO 40 DEGREES BELOW ZERO TONIGHT WITH LITTLE RECOVERY EXPECTED MONDAY. I'm not going anywhere today. Have a great chicken survival day.