There are several advantages of keeping backyard chickens for household pets. Besides being a lovable pet, backyard chickens can also provide delicious eggs.
However, caring for them becomes more difficult during the wintertime. As a beginner chicken breeder, you may have asked yourself, can backyard chickens survive winter?
Can backyard chickens survive winter?
Surprisingly, backyard chickens are susceptible to sub-zero winter temperatures. But, they seem to be more troubled by hot weather than the cold.
However, it is worth noting that the winter survival rates differ between breeds. Hardy backyard chicken breeds, such as Plymouth Rocks, Australorps, Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, and New Hampshire Reds, are widely known as the toughest chicken breeds.
How cold is too cold for backyard chickens?
Chickens are equipped with a thick coat of feathers to keep them warm. The optimal temperature for adult backyard chickens is around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21- 24 degrees Celsius.
However, as previously mentioned, they are fine when the temperature dips below the ideal temperature during the winter. In fact, laying hens can still produce eggs even during extreme temperatures.
While the adult chickens are fine with extreme temperatures, the chicks may need some attention. Due to their immature feathers, the chicks are more prone to cold weather illness if they’re exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
Therefore, try to provide an ideal temperature of 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit after hatching. Once you do that, you can gradually reduce the temperature by five degrees every week until the chicks have developed a proper coat of feathers.
How to know if chickens are cold
While most chickens can survive the cold winter, there are times when the temperatures are just too cold for them. Luckily, there are several signs indicating that the temperature is too cold for chickens.
- The chickens stand with one foot to keep the other warm during cold temperatures.
- They huddle in the corner during their active hours.
- The chickens’ feathers are puffed up permanently.
- They tend to be lethargic, which could also be a sign of illness.
- Their combs look paler than usual.
Backyard chickens winter care
Backyard chicken is one of the most popular forms of backyard companion for many American households. However, as previously mentioned, you may need to provide extra care for them during winter. Here are the things you can do to keep your backyard chickens warm.
- Provide extra bedding for coop insulation.
- Be sure to replace the bedding at least once a week to avoid mold and dampness.
- Make sure that the coop is big enough so that the chickens can snuggle to keep themselves warm.
- Give extra feed to give them more energy to produce body heat.
- Use a water heater to keep the water supply from freezing.
- Be sure that the coop is isolated from the elements while still providing ventilation for the chickens.
So, those are everything you need to know on how to take care of your backyard chickens during the winter. Remember that, despite their high tolerance to cold weather, backyard chickens can still be cold. So, make sure that you put extra care for your backyard companions during winter.