Saturday, September 22, 2012

First Day of Autumn....Time to Prep for Winter!

It’s hard to believe, but another season has come to an end and Fall has arrived early in SW Ohio, we have already had temperatures in the upper 30’s and a few of our neighbors to the north have had frost!  By now many of us have culled our flocks back to pre-winter numbers, processed a few birds for the table or freezer and are preparing for the cold days to arrive.  Now is a good time to make sure ALL of our birds are in peak condition to survive the coldest of days and this means they may need more fat in their diet.  Adding a little FLAX seed can help in that area and also improved the Omega content of your eggs, Black Oil Sunflower Seed (BOSS) is also a great source of protein and added fat for your chickens.

Another thing we do at Crains Run Ranch is clean out old pine shavings, dust for mites, and double up on our deep litter base.  This seems to help our Buckeyes to stay warmer, increases their desire to scratch and actually improves our laying production during the shorter, colder days of late fall and winter.  Ventilation is still very important in your coops as the cold weather approaches, excess humidity can be a sure fire way to cause sickness or death in a flock.  Therefore, it is important to have a relatively draft free environment but plenty of ventilation to prevent roosting fowl from getting too damp.  We have found vents near the ceiling or roof to be the best solution for providing good winter ventilation in our coops. 

Generally, our Buckeyes are de-wormed one last time in late September or early October as well and this helps the hens and roosters to remain strong as the cooler weather approaches.  A boost of vitamins and electrolytes is provided to any birds that are showing signs of weight loss or poor condition after molting.  The end of summer can be a stressful time for chickens, especially those that are molting or just completed their molt so keep a close eye on your older breeding stock this time of year. 

Finally, now is a good time to clean and disinfect ALL of those watering containers and feeders!  Prep everything for the necessary water heaters or heater bases as you go, too.  If you use the deep litter pine shavings as mentioned above pay close attention to avoid potential fire hazards, heat lamps can be very dangerous and we know some folks use them to keep water from freezing.  Fresh water is just as critical in the winter as the summer, your birds will drink less in the winter but they can’t survive on ice so make sure you have established a plan or system to keep water available for your fowl.  There are many methods available and some work with metal watering containers and not plastic so he cautious and seek advice if you are uncertain what to use.
We hope everyone has a GREAT autumn and your Buckeyes lay well ALL winter long!

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