Caring for your flock in the frost

Lisa Mancell National Sales Coordinator at Farmgate Feeds gives her advice on protecting your hens through the coldest months

Unlike humans, debating how long to have the heating on as the cold weather bites, our feathery hen friends are much more resilient and can regulate their body temperature even on the frostiest of days. There are, however, still ways we can adapt our hen’s environment to ensure they are comfortable and maintain their best health all-year round.

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Smallholder Poultry

Home sweet home

With shorter daylight hours, your hens will be spending more time in their coop, so it needs to be a comfortable sanctuary. Ensure the space is well-insulated; cover overnight with an old carpet, blankets, bubble wrap or flattened cardboard and add a deep layer (10cm+) of dry bedding (chopped straw or wood shavings).

Check there’s plenty of space for your hens to roost; they will fluff themselves out and huddle together at night to keep warm. The roost should be raised at least two ft above the ground to keep them away from the cold. If there are any hens on the ground when you shut them in for the night, then there’s not enough roost space.

Nutrition and water

A well-balanced nutritious feed should contain all the necessary protein, vitamins and minerals to support your hens throughout the year. Farmgate Feeds Layers Pellets and Mash support egg production with natural ingredients to provide optimum performance and efficiency. Essential fatty acids help improve gut and overall bird health with a high cereal inclusion and balanced nutrient content for optimum performance.

When the weather is particularly cold, you can try mixing a bit of warm water with your hen’s layers pellets or mash for their breakfast. Feeding slightly less in the morning and more in the afternoon can help fill your hens up before bedtime and keep them warmer at night. But stick to the same daily quantity so you don’t allow your bird’s healthy appetite in the winter lead to overeating.

Drinkers need to be filled with fresh water daily and cleaned thoroughly to avoid any harmful bacteria building up. Electric dishes can help prevent water from freezing or you can wrap bubble wrap around the bottles to protect them from freezing temperatures.

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Overall health

Keep an eye on the general health of your hens as the weather conditions worsen, hens with larger combs are particularly susceptible to frostbite. If they have been affected by frost, you can treat their combs with an antiseptic spray or use a little petroleum jelly as a precaution at night when the temperatures are still dropping.

Get in touch with our Farmgate specialists

Contact our team for advice or find your local stockist.

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