First-time chicken owners always worry about winter chicken coop bedding and keeping their birds warm enough in the middle of winter. It is really easy once you realize just how simple it is. It's actually less work in the winter than during the summer when you are trying to keep them cooler.
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Winter Chicken Coop Bedding
There are a number of different materials that chicken owners sure as bedding.
- pine shavings
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The coop should not be air-tight, as that would definitely lead to frostbite. The coop needs ventilation to carry the warm moist air up and out of the coop.
Deep Litter Method
Consider practicing the Deep Litter Method, a great example of working smarter, not harder. This is where winter coop maintenance can be easier in the summer:
Simply layer the floor of your coop with pine shavings, and periodically rake the chicken waste into the bedding mix. Once a week, add a layer of fresh pine shavings to the top.
Together with the pine shavings, your chicken’s poop will form a compost layer that fosters microbe growth.
Microbes cut down on harmful bacteria, and can also help prevent mite and lice infestations in the coop. For the kicker, composting organic matter generates much-needed heat in the wintertime.
This is what we do in the winter for all three chicken coops.
Collect your eggs frequently. You will get to know the laying habits of your chickens and learn to gauge when they lay eggs, so time your collections around the chicken’s schedule. A thick nest of straw is a great insulator.
Do not put vaseline on your chicken's waddles or cones to prevent frostbite. Petroleum jelly is an occlusive moisturizer, which means you are trapping moisture on the comb. As the petroleum jelly absorbs into the skin, the moisture is sitting on the tissue, increasing the frostbite risk.
It's not hard to raise chickens in the winter, nor hard to keep them warm enough. Remember they have warm-down feathers that help to keep their body heat. The chicken will also roost together in their coop to keep warm. This is one reason why you want more than just a couple of chickens in your coop.