Thursday, November 08, 2007

Winter chicken preparations

We've had our first few hard frosts, then a little snowfall, and temperatures dipping to -4C at night. It's time to prepare our chickens for the winter months ahead.

At this point we are planning to keep the girls in their coop for the majority of the winter, unless the temperatures drop drastically in which case they can roost in our greenhouse (where we have a small heater available). We have surrounded the coop with strawbales for added insulation, and installed a small heat lamp which is on a timer so it goes on mid-night.

So far the girls are adjusting well to the cooler temperatures, getting a chance to warm up by stretching their legs roaming through the garden/yard during the day. We have started feeding them warm oatmeal in the mornings, which they devour (if you add rice milk they go crazy for it! - although this is a rare treat). They lay a few less eggs, now 4-5 per day instead of 6, and this is due to reduced light levels (it's dark by 5 pm now, at which point they climb on their perches and tuck away for the night). They have also developed a new yard nest, laying eggs in a small nest fashioned under a huge pile of twigs & brush near their coop. It's a perfect wild nest, completely hidden and tangled under bramble and raspberry canes - safe from predators, and cozy.

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