If you live in a climate that experiences cooler temperatures, you will also undoubtedly worry to some degree about the well-being of your birds. Ayam Cemani, like many other chickens, have the dreaded single comb that can succumb to frostbite, but there are ways to prevent this from happening to your birds. Lighting, ventilation, feed, and water are also other areas to focus on in preparation for cooler temps.
So how can we prepare our birds for the cold? Here are some tips and tricks to start winter off safely.
Protecting your birds from drafts and
Maintaining fresh, clean water safe from freezing is imperative this time of year. It can seem like an arduous task, especially if you live in a climate where it doesn’t get above freezing until April. There are a few tips and tricks we can share and we’re certain others have some to share as well.
There are many heated waterers available that require a simple electrical wall outlet. Breaking up water and adding hot water several times a day are other ways to combat the issue. If you provide a heat source inside your coops, bringing the waterers in can give them the extra few degrees needed to stay in liquid form. There are even some DIY water heater ideas online that people have used with success.
Providing fresh feed is imperative to maintaining flock health. Staying warm can take a lot of energy! Corn can help add a layer of fat. A flock block can combat boredom and add some yummy treats as can mealworms and other treats. Greens such as alfalfa or lettuce are great additions too! Scrambled eggs for chicks (and adults alike!) are always a welcomed snack to most flocks.
Straight combs and large wattles are some of the hardest to protect from frostbite. Here are some tips and tricks to help! Each evening when the birds are on a roost apply petroleum jelly or bag balm to their combs and wattles liberally. Do you have a product you swear by? Share it with the group on our Facebook page!
Each year lives and homes (both chicken and human) are lost due to fires from heat lamps in coops. Whether you choose to use a heat lamp or not is entirely your decision, however, please understand the risks associated with them.
Chickens do very well in the cold without supplemental heat if provided adequate housing and protection from moisture and drafts. Ensuring your birds have nice deep bedding will help provide insulation and added heat to your coops. If you see condensation on coop windows, find a way to add more ventilation without adding drafts.
For younger birds, look into heat pads or heat plates. They are much safer and just as effective. Whatever heat decisions you make be sure to stay safe and stay smart.
This article was written and contributed by ACBA member, Carlie Ostrem Johnson.