This is the time of year when we all get concerned about our pets and chickens in the back garden are no exception. This is a photo of my lovely Poppy and after a few moments wondering what on earth had happened ,like the other two she was fine as their feathers fluff up and act like a little duvet .
Last year was the first winter and I was a complete novice not knowing what I should do ..But we all survived…. Here are a few tips.
Water This is just as important as food and not to let it freeze over.It is easy to go out thinking that they are ok but it does not take long.If they are Free ranging then keep some extra water close to the house where there is warmth. Some people put a golf ball in the water which they will peck and break the ice. I have heard that glycarin in the water stops it from freezing but this I have not tried.
Food As well as their normal pellets which they have they like extra protein to keep them warm . Warm porridge , pellets mixed with warm water, corn (which my girls turn their beeks up at and won’t eat )) and of course meal worms.
Rats Yuck! they are around more this time of year and even in the cleanest of places they will be around ,try not to leave any scattered food around and bring in their food dishes at night which will attract them.Most of all don’t panic treated with traps or poison (away from pets of course ) they will go !
Instinct Chickens are suppose to be out door animals and will all snuggle up together.Mine all sleep in the nest box and they keep each other warm.While they are out and about they tend to spend a lot of the time sat by my patio doors or under shrubs or trees out of the wind ,they know where to get warmth from .
Sleeping in the nest box New chicken owners are often worried that their chucks sleep in the nest box ..I used to be concerned as it was not the” done thing to do “but all mine do and they all snuggle in together and fluff up their feathers to keep warm .In the morning when they come out I scoop poop their poo and put it in the compost bin.I am sure they feel that is the place to be as they feel warmer and safer.
Snugglesafe This is a pad which you can heat in the microwave and put under their water bowl to stop from freezing quite so quickly.You can also use it if you have a poorly chicken that needs a little tlc. http://www.zooplus.co.uk
This is my second winter for my girls and I worried like mad the first year ..but got all the advice I needed from http://www.downthelane.net with some great helpers and me and the chickens survived.in fact I think the summer is harder for them.