Ever wonder how chickens and ducks fair in wintertime? Our seasoned flock has now been through a few winters, and they’re here to tell how.
One of the best decisions we’ve made, is when we decided to have chickens. We made this decision five years ago, and we haven’t looked back since. Their eggs are delish, of course, but they’ve also become our pets. Our dogs have adapted to the hens quite easily, and the hens to them. If one is sick or not up to snuff, we have a make-shift hen hospital in our tool room, and do what we can to nurse them back to health. This has only happened a couple of times, but just the same, we do what we can. The girls are tight with each other, although there is certainly a pecking order decided by them. We’ve lost a few over the years, and interestingly enough, not only do we grieve their loss, but so do their flock besties. Just goes to prove that even animals maintain dear friendships.
How Chickens And Ducks Fare In Wintertime
Last year we added ducks to our flock. These birds have been eyeopening to say the least. We started with 8, but given the boy ducks are beyond aggressive (you do the math here), we found a new home for them and have been left with three girls.. Very sweet, very dirty and messy girls, that lay the most delicious eggs. Blending them with the chickens was easy for the ducks. The chickens however, had some adjusting to do, as they have a well-defined pecking order and sometimes bully the less popular. Ducks get along with everyone, and couldn’t really give a quack about a pecking order. Certainly threw the clucking hens for a loop.
When winter rolls around, they all become pretty tight. No need to worry about our egg laying friends because both chickens and ducks are pretty hearty. They maintain a higher temperature than us humans and their feathers provide a pretty good insulation.
Should A Heat Lamp Be Installed In The Coop?
Quick answer here is no. We do not and for a few reasons. One being that heat lamps are a fire hazard. Second, on the off chance that there is a power outage and the lights go out, flock is used to the warmth of a heat lamp, they could potentially go into shock because they haven’t needed to adjust to the lower winter temperatures. Both ducks and chickens are extremely hardy birds with body temperatures coming in at over 100 degrees. And, their feathers add another form of warmth and insulation.
Another very important task to help your chickens and ducks fare well during the winter is to make sure the coop is clean and free of moisture. You’ve gotta rake out the wet straw and keep things dry all winter long. When the temps outside really dip down into single digits or even minus ones, then bring in full bales into the coop to rest on top of the clean, dry straw to stop drafts and provide another form of shelter to help the flock maintain their inner body temperature.
Although, sadly, we have lost a few of our girls, we have never lost one over the winter. The jury is still out if chickens and ducks are big fans of the cold months, but just like us, they go through the motions and make it work, most likely counting down the days until spring. And from the day that this post drops, we have less than a month until then.
But I may be the only one counting.