Winterizing Your Flock
Chickens need 14 to 16 hours of “daylight.” One of the best ways to keep up egg production is to continue providing supplemental lighting to extend the “daylight” hours until the sun can take over full time. A single 60 to 100 watt bulb set on a timer will suffice. It’s best to extend the hours at the beginning of the day, so set the timer to turn the lights on before dawn.
Keep up the regular egg gathering. The more your birds are confined during cold weather, the more frequently you should gather eggs. This will prevent other birds from pecking and breaking the eggs.
Despite the cold air, chickens still need good ventilation. While it’s important to weatherproof your coop to protect birds from the cold temperatures, you must still allow for adequate ventilation to help keep the litter dry. Otherwise, in such a confined area, ammonia can build up quickly. The hazards of ammonia can range from infection, to birth defects, to blindness. A simple way to test ammonia levels is to position your head at the same height as those of your birds. Breathe normally. If, after a few seconds, your throat or eyes begin to burn, you have ammonia build up. Ventilation will reduce the moisture in your litter, which will help eliminate the ammonia.
Your chickens need water, not ice! If birds do not have water, they will not eat. If birds do not eat, they will not produce eggs. Make sure feeders and waterers are set up to function during freezing temperatures. Your birds need access to fresh, clean water at all
times, day or night.
Keep feeding your chickens a nutritionally sound diet. Last but not least, during the cold weather months, it’s important to offer a high-quality complete feed instead of “scratch” alone. Purina® Layena® SunFresh® Recipe is all natural and contains sufficient protein, vitamins, minerals—and even a touch of marigold extract—to produce hearty, golden-yolked eggs. And birds love the taste.