Colder temperatures are here. Single freezing digits often prohibit me from doing regular maintenance and tidying in my chicken coop. I’ve been getting questions from many of you about how I care for my coop during these freezing winter months, so I thought that I would share some tips of what I do to keep my chicken coop tidy in winter.
We have had quite the weather this past week. Two days ago Blizzard Niko hit the East Coast and Cape Cod- where we call home. We lost power during the middle of the storm and that night among candlelight and flashlights, we had a simple family dinner consisting of cereal and peanut butter sandwiches. The snow was wet and heavy mixed with rain and the winds were whipping. Trees and power lines were down. As we prepared to go to sleep for the evening, we bundled up. It was 15 degrees F. outside and inside we had already dropped to 55 degrees F. We hunkered down for the night and the unknown.
Living in a place where we experience all four seasons including what can be a sometimes very snowy winter, I have had to come up with some pretty ingenious ways to care for chickens during weeks on end of nasty weather. One such way that I have done so this year is with this adjustable chicken run tarp.
During the winter, it is very important to the flock’s health that the chicken coop remains dry. Humidity in the coop is one of the number one reasons that chickens become ill during the winter. Humidity can quickly become an issue in quite a few ways. Therefore, controlling humidity in the coop should be a winter goal for all chicken owners.
|The honeybees cluster in a ball for warmth in the winter. The queen is in the very center, kept toasty at 95 degrees. The cluster expands and moves during warmer days and contracts tightly and stays put in freezing temps.|
Last week it was a balmy day in December, 50 degrees. Weird for us, but the bees were happy and flying outside the hive. They were taking cleansing flights and exploring a bit around the yard. I found a few perched on the birdbath taking in a bit of water. It was the perfect day to go in and check on their sugar supplies that I had added to the hive only a couple of months ago. I was curious what the winter honeybee cluster would look like.
As fall days and chilly nights arrive, the bird feeders and suet holders are refilled. They help the birds that stick around during the winter survive in our backyard. The birds adore our feeders and unfortunately so do the squirrels. It was not uncommon for the backyard squirrels to empty out all of our feeders in a couple days. It has taken us many attempts but the bird feeders are finally squirrel proof. Instead, the squirrels can be seen with the chipmunks scavenging the delicious morsels that have fallen to the ground. We’re happy to share but most years they are in luck with an indian corn wreath made just for them!
Oh my goodness, do chickens including my girls ever love looking at themselves in the mirror! Winter is still upon us and as we try to deal with the usual boredom during the final few weeks, I bring out all the stops. It was time, the chicken divas needed a mirror of their own. All it took was me discovering a hand held doll dress-up mirror at the craft store. It was a perfect size and made from shatterproof plastic. Making a shatterproof mirror for the chickens is important. Chickens will peck and can break the mirror if you are not careful. I gathered up a few more supplies at the craft store and headed home to make the chicken mirror.
|Activity in front of Willow but none in front of Briar.|
I had a bad feeling going into winter with the Briar hive. The hive should have been re-queened as they had many issues last season. But sadly, there were no queens available due to the unexpected large death of so many bee hives across the United States. Last year, the US lost about 30 percent of all the existing hives. So I crossed my fingers that they would survive until spring, when I could requeen.