For most, fall is a time to prepare your chicken coop for winter. Maintenance you’ve been putting off should be completed. Things like making sure your water heater is working, predator protection is in place are high priorities. Of course, fall is a great time to start fresh with your bedding – to clean out the coop and run. And, make sure you have plenty of EcoPett Coop Bedding on hand to see you through the season, too. EcoPett Coop Bedding breaks down into a warm insulation sawdust layer, with less dust than other bedding. And, unlike shavings, it is super absorbent; so it is less damp and wet creating a healthier environment to see your flock through the season.
Also, here are some words of wisdom on ventilation to help prepare your chicken coop for winter from thebackyardchickenfarmer.com:
“Ventilation – Good ventilation allows dissipation of moisture from chicken’s breath during the winter and provides a fresh air source during the summer. Your first instinct is to plug every hole in the chicken coop, thinking it will keep your birds warm—don’t do it. With the cold weather, chickens spend more time roosting in the coop and good airflow removes moisture.
Roosting chickens create moisture; allowing it to condensate inside the coop creates cold and damp conditions which are unhealthy for your chickens. The moisture settles on combs and wattles, causing frostbite. You need good ventilation but not drafty. Drafts in direct line with chicken roosts are dangerous. If your chicken house has windows or vents, keep them open just enough to give some airflow but not wide enough to cause drafts on roosting chickens. Cold drafts can kill a roosting chicken so make sure your ventilation only allows the air to circulate, keeping the moisture down.
Heat – No…no…and no again. Okay, I know there is much debate about this one, especially those living in colder, northern climates. Our winters in Oklahoma rarely have long cold spells with subzero temperatures: our winters usually stay above the freezing mark. However, my grandparents kept chickens in harsh environments with no heat in the hen house, only good winterization. My dad’s parents lived in northern Ohio while my mother’s lived in northern Iowa; both kept flocks throughout the winter, with rarely a loss.
The biggest problem with heating your coop and preserving a warmer temperature is chickens only feather out in light down and not their full winter down. If you lose power for any time, your heat source is gone and chickens aren’t acclimated to the colder temperatures. We have ice storms in the winter, so losing electricity is common. If we kept our chicken coop heated, we might lose some chickens.
All heating sources are dangerous. If you feel you must heat, follow manufacturer’s safety precautions for your heat source. Coop fires are common in winter making safety a must. Heat bulbs are a common heating source. Hang them with sturdy clips, out of the way where chickens can’t knock them into bedding and cause a fire. I recommend oil-filled radiant heaters instead of heat lamps. These heaters won’t subject the flock to long-term illumination, causing egg production system damage. Whatever heat source you use, keep it at a low temperature, no higher than 25° F to avoid molting those extra layers of feathers. I suggest letting them grow their downy “underwear” and not offer any artificial heat unless it gets cold for long periods: -20° F or below.”