Thursday, November 29, 2012

Winter care for the Welsummers

During winter months chickens need a shelter that keeps them out of the wind and that is free of drafts. It also shouldn’t be damp. Manure contains a lot of water, and in the winter, when  the coop is closed up, this can make the air unhealthy and the hens prone to respiratory illness. I keep my coops shoveled out monthly and bedded with fresh hay that I grow out in my fields. Also, good ventilation is a must – it’s best to have vents high near the roof. The wind chill comes from the north so I try to keep the roosting area away from that cold wind. Remember also that grown chickens do not need heat lamps. The reason being that it’s not good for them to go from one extreme temperature to another. They need to huddle on the roost with each other to stay warm at night.  A healthy bird has enough body fat and feathers to keep it warm on its own. If a bird has adapted to a heater it will surely suffer when the heater is gone. I like to condition my birds to tolerate the weather extremes here in Texas naturally. Welsummers also tend to be cold-hardy anyways. If you have a rooster with a large comb be sure to slather on some vaseline if you know the temperature is going to drop. When your chickens know that you love and respect them, they will want to be with you as well as enjoying themselves on their own.