Although Winter is usually mild here on the West Coast, it's always a good idea to winterize your coop each year. Here are some tips, whether you are in a snowy landscape or a mild coastal fog.
There tends to be more moisture in the winter; rain, snow, sleet, hail, and the ever worrisome ice. With moisture in the air, tip #1 is to double check all of the electrical that is in or around your coop. It may be a good time of year to add a heat lamp or two to your coop for the comfort of your flock, though not necessary. Chickens can survive without any additional heat or light sources, but it may provide them more comfort during the nights or winter storms. For this, it would be a good idea to double check all of the cords, bulbs, lamp covers, and placements of lights.
Make sure the cords are clean of droppings and wrapped or tucked away, off the ground, so that they are not going to be pecked at or get water spilled on them. Change old bulbs and make sure they are at least 2 feet off the ground.
Tip #2: Clean out the coop. This is something that should be done every few weeks or months, depending on the size of your coop and flock. It is a good habit to change the coop shavings whenever they are dirty, but during this time of year, you may want to clean out EVERYTHING.
Because there is moisture in the air, it is more likely that bacteria and other things are going to be living in your yard and coop, unless your freezing occasionally. Cleaning out all of the shavings, clean and move nesting boxes, roosts, waterer and feeders, and bleaching or vinegar spray the inside of the coop, and letting it all air out for the day, is a great way to start fresh for the season! You may also want to double check for any critter holes, tracks, or poop, as they may be looking for a warm place for the winter also.
Tip #3: Do a health check on all of your chickens. Check their skin for bugs, their comb for discoloration, their eyes for discharge or foul smell, and checking out their feet for any injuries. If you find anything unusual, please feel free to give us a call (805) 735-3233!
As for those of you in snow already, you may want to brush off your roof, clear out any ice with a shovel or pick, and make sure the door hinges and fencing is not getting rusted or damaged from ice or frost.
Don't forget to decorate your coop with an edible wreath during the holidays, your chickens will love that!