Storm Preparations for Backyard Chickens

January 1, 2014

They’ve named it Hercules.

I’m not sure what to think of the first big snow storm of 2014. Living on a man-made island that juts into the Atlantic Ocean, the forecast is always variable and unpredictable. Sometimes, the forecast is for record amounts of snow and we get a dusting, other times it is the complete opposite. Regardless of the forecast, it is always essential to be ready for anything.

Over the years, we have gotten pretty accustomed to making sure that in addition to ourselves, that our flock is ready to weather the storm. Today, I thought I would share with you just what exactly we do!

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.
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.
  • 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.
I’m not quite sure what Hercules will bring to us over the next couple of day. We certainly are preparing and stocking up. It’s always best to be ready for anything and to be able to assist neighbors that were not as diligent in their planning.

Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest


Author/Blogger/Freelancer-Sharing adventures with backyard chickens, beekeeping, gardening, crafting, cooking and more.



10 thoughts on “Storm Preparations for Backyard Chickens”

  1. Happy New Year Melissa! I'm so happy you posted Storm Prep for chickens…
    I guess we are in for along the south shore and the cape and islands… Batten down the hatches !!! Stay safe….and I'll see ya in 2014! We still have to celebrate your book!!!

  2. Great advice that I usually practice. I have a well for water so power outages are always a problem. I have a 5 gallon water container I keep full for chicks as well as clean gallon containers. try not to let the food get below 1/4 full, that can last well over a week but better safe than sorry. Greens are a bigger problem but they can skip a few days if needed. I've had a medical kit that I've barely touched so I know it is ready. also keep water in a large garden tub that is not used for flushing toilets!

    Happy New Year, stay safe……..


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.