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Winter hen health

Lisa Mancell at Farmgate Feeds gives her top tips on poultry care over the colder months.  

After moulting season and with the colder months upon us we need to pay close attention to the health and comfort of our flock, making adaptations to support their wellbeing over winter.

Nutrition  

Your hens feed should contain all the necessary proteins, vitamins and minerals which will support them throughout the year. If we reach a particularly cold period, you can supplement the birds daily feed allowance with some mixed corn to deliver extra calories. Your hens will typically be able to eat slightly less in the morning and more in the afternoon and so any supplementary feed is best fed in the afternoon to fill them up before bedtime, keeping them warmer at night. But stick to the same daily quantity of compound pellets if you do this as the pellets contain all the important daily nutrient allowance.

Farmgate Feeds Layers Pellets and Mash support egg production with natural ingredients to provide optimum performance and efficiency. Fortified with vitamins, minerals and trace elements to provide excellent egg quality, with natural yolk pigments, marigold and paprika, to help deliver a deep rich yolk colour. Essential fatty acids help improve gut and overall bird health with a high cereal inclusion and balanced nutrient content for optimum performance.

Farmgate Feeds Layers Pellets and Mash support egg production with natural ingredients to provide optimum performance and efficiency
Farmgate Feeds Layers Pellets and Mash support egg production with natural ingredients to provide optimum performance and efficiency

Cosy coop

The shortened daylight hours and the winter months will lead to slower egg production. To encourage egg laying, you can extend the daylight hours by adding an artificial lightbulb in your hen’s coop. They will need no more than 10 hours of daylight per day so, if you can, fit a timer so they are not over stimulated, and consider that some older birds may be needing a “rest” and you may have immature birds which you don’t want to bring into lay too soon.

If you are undertaking any building or maintenance to the hen house this is a good time to ensure its free from any draughts. Although it’s important to keep draughts out, try to avoid the temptation to over-insulate the coop as ventilation is important to keep the air inside fresh and to remove moisture which could cause the building to sweat – a dry house will be a much a healthier place for your hens, and provided they are kept dry their feathers are a remarkable insulation for them.