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Top 7 Tips To Prepare Your Chicken Coop For Winter

Published on October 09, 2013 by Penny Roberts in Chicken Coops, Hen Houses & Equipment

As the nights begin to draw in, it’s time to start thinking about some of the things you can do in preparation for winter. Chickens need a clean, comfortable and draft free environment. So armed with a bit of commitment and a little elbow grease, here are my top tips for ensuring your girls are kept cosy this winter. 

1. Deep Clean Your Hen House

First job is to clean the coop and everything inside it. Try and pick a dry but windy day and start early. Take out all removable items such as perches and any furniture or accessories. Remove all loose bedding etc as normal, and then hose down all surfaces and scrape off any droppings. Once cleared it’s time to start scrubbing! I use some soapy water together with a sharp edged scraper and a scrubbing brush. Be thorough!! When complete, leave all doors/ventilation open so that it can dry before bedtime.

Next it’s time to repeat this process for all the items you’ve removed. Let them dry outside in the sunshine and fresh air and then replace when dry. Make sure they all work OK and if not then arrange for them to be replaced.

2. Clean All Drinkers And Feeders

Luckily you’ll be in full scrubbing mode by now, so make sure any green algae or moss is removed from your drinkers and/or any caked on pellets or other foodstuffs so that they look as good as new. Rinse thoroughly and leave to dry. If you don’t already have spare drinkers and feeders then you should consider getting some. They always come in handy and are not too costly.

3. Inspect Your Coop

Now’s a great time review the overall structural integrity of your hen house. Check the base, the legs, ramps and doors. Are they still solid and secure? Do any hinges or latches need oiling? Make sure all screws and fixings are still in tight, and also look for any holes where drafts or rain or even vermin could enter. The same applies for any loose timbers. Have them repaired or things will only get worse.

For all timber housing, consider applying a quality wood preservative. This will protect your investment over the coming seasons. 

Most importantly, you need to make sure the roof is sound and water-tight. If your roof is felt, check for any tears or holes and replace as necessary. I would always encourage people to replace a felt roof with an alternative material anyway (such as metal or bitumen corrugated panels), as these are less likely to encourage red mite infestation. If you have a Henny Penny hen house with a thatched roof, give this two coats of exterior yacht varnish to protect it and ensure it retains its sheen.    

4. Is Your Ventilation Working?

Hen House ventilation helps to get rid of humid air and toxic ammonia. As there will be less hot air to deal with as temperatures drop, it is still critical to have proper airflow. However, you may consider partially closing some vents during winter if they are likely to cause drafts as we don’t want our girls to catch a chill. But don’t close your vents off altogether, as this will cause humidity levels to rise which is just what viruses and bacteria like!

5.  Check for Vermin

Look for signs of any predators and ensure you have some protection such as bait boxes in an appropriately safe place.

6. Is Your Fencing In Good Order?

Check all your fencing to make sure there are no holes to let animals in or out. If you have any wire mesh that has seen better days, replace it. You should also check your chicken run in the same way.

7. Check Your Connections

If you have water or even electricity plumbed into your coop then check all your connections to make sure they are tight and working properly. For water pipes, now is the time to ensure that any exposed pipes are insulated before the frost comes. In extreme cold you may need to consider using a heat lamp and a water de-icer, so think about sourcing these items if you don’t already have them. Having said that my own chickens have experienced temperatures of -10 °C with no need for a heat lamp.   

Once you’ve completed these tasks you can pat yourself on the back and pour yourself a large glass of wine (please don’t do this in the wrong order), safe in the knowledge that your girls will be healthy and happy this winter!

Top 7 Tips To Prepare Your Chicken Coop For Winter

Tags: chicken coop maintenance, hen house, winter

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