Caring for your flock during winter - A Check List
Please consider the following checklist, outlining a few simple steps you can take to care for your flock during the winter months:
- Bring your drinkers indoors overnight, to avoid frozen drinkers in the mornings.
- Thaw frozen drinkers in a bowl of warm water. Pouring hot/boiling water over a frozen plastic drinker could crack it and will certainly aid in the breakdown of the plastic over time.
- Keep a spare drinker so you can put ‘one in and one out’ during freezing weather.
- Fill drinkers with warm water (not hot) to slow down the re-freezing time.
- Hang your drinker and feeder to prevent them becoming frozen to the ground.
- Bring your feeder indoors overnight, as feed can also freeze and to avoid the increased interest from rats as they struggle to find food in the frozen conditions.
- Place a few rat bait boxes around the perimeter of the poultry run to control rodent numbers.
- Add fresh wood chippings to the run to soak up any mud and re-stabilise the ground. The first layer to go in is often sacrificial, the mud soaker, then the following layer(s) will provide a great substrate and new poultry run floor.
- Woodchip can be raked and forked over as necessary to prevent clogging, it forms a free draining layer and is a long lasting, natural flooring. Woodchip attracts many bugs and crawlies providing interest and instinctive forage for our birds. We always recommend pure (native) hardwood chips (no mixed in greenery – this causes the chip to rot faster).
- Add a sprinkling (just 1 cup per square meter) of Bio-dri over the floor of the run to help extend the life of the flooring. It is a fresh smelling, super absorbent powder, non-hazardous and extremely effective in absorbing liquids and ammonia gas, inhibiting the growth and spread of bacteria and other harmful organisms.
- Beware of providing some sort of heat during the toughest times, or even insulating their house, as sadly by doing so these measures can promote winter breeding of mites.
- Maintain good ventilation in the poultry house to prevent ammonia build up from the droppings causing possible respiratory problems; shield vents from the outside to stop direct blow, whilst maintaining ventilation.
- Make sure there is no draught blowing on the birds at perch height; vents should be above the hens roost.
- Keep the poultry house clean and dry; we always recommend you continue to use both Poultry Shield and Diatom though these months, as although the mites etc generally go dormant through the cold weather they can still be in the house and so winter treatment it is a good chance to kill any overwintering bugs.
- Give your flock a boost by adding a supplement to their feed. Our preferred product is Poultry Pep; a mineral supplement containing a blend of spices and vitamin C to maintain condition during cold weather.
- Just a quick note to quail keepers; quail are regarded generally as not being ‘frost hardy so bring them into a shed or garage for the winter. Ensure there is enough light and ventilation.
- Help to reduce the stress of the first experience of snow by clearing the way to the feeder and drinker.
- Feed a little extra mixed corn or kibbled maize around mid to later afternoon to provide them with more energy to keep them warm at night.
And.... don’t panic – the birds are tougher than you might think, they are kept successfully in many of the worlds’ cold places!