Monday, 10 October 2011

Keeping Chickens Healthy Through the Winter Months

By Tim Warrington

Chickens need care all year around and if treated properly will lay beautifully for you but there are things you must do, especially in the winter months in order to keep your chickens comfortable and healthy. More bedding is a good idea in the winter months in order to keep your chickens warm in the cold winter months. Some people line their coops with cardboard to add extra insulation but make sure when doing this that you don't compromise any ventilation in your chicken coops.Hens will usually lay one egg a day and hens will usually start laying at 20-22 weeks of age, after 2 years egg laying starts to decline a little and in the winter months egg laying diminishes considerably. Other factors can affect your hens laying such as a change of location and sometimes harsh weather such as rain. There are ways to help egg laying in all year round and because laying is effected by the reduction of light, some people install light into the pens in order to stimulate the egg laying process. We don't however and prefer to let nature take its course and allow the hens egg laying to decline naturally. The hens will begin to lay again in early spring and will lay right through the summer months.

Other things that are vital in the winter months are making sure your chickens have a fresh supply of unfrozen water. Water will freeze naturally in the winter months and unless you manually break the water, your chickens will become thirsty very quickly. It may also be a good idea if you have several chickens and cockerels to separate them for a while over the winter months, this gives the cockerels chance to recharge their batteries and gives the hens chance to have a rest from the constant attention of the cockerels

If you live in areas where the temperatures fall really low you may find that your chickens feet and toes will suffer and in extreme circumstances chickens can lose them. Chickens combs can also suffer with parts of them actually falling off in extreme frost and cold. Roosters may become sterile from stress and hens will suffer too and will almost certainly stop laying. You must also remember that illnesses are more prevalent in the cold weather and extra care and vigilance is needed in order to separate any ill chickens from the rest of the flock. If an ill chicken has an illness it is quite probable that they will pass on any infections to other birds. Having said all of that chickens suffer more in heat than they do in cold weather and as long as their needs are met, they will get through the winter months with no problems.

Ukchickens offer point of lay chickens in many breeds as well as eggs of various breeds for incubation.

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