Chickens, like a lot livestock, gradually
adapt to colder temperatures. Most of the heavy-breed layers especially, and even some
of the hybrids and sex-links, will adapt to cold weather quite well and continue to lay
throughout the course of the winter as long as you’re giving them supplemental light.
You’re going to want to make sure that your chickens have exposure to fourteen to sixteen
hours of light per day to maintain their productive efficiency. Winter watering is an important
consideration for your backyard chickens. A fresh, thawed, easily-accessible source of water
all throughout the year is pretty essential, and most backyard chicken keepers don’t have
the scale of a coop they need to keep the water inside where it’s going to stay warmer.
So that means your water is going to be exposed to the winter elements. In that type of situation,
one of these waterers that plugs in and has a thermostatically-controlled heating element
in the base, will keep a ring of water thawed and available to these birds at all times,
down to about zero degrees, so they work really well. One of the best ways to make sure that
you don’t have frozen or ruined eggs is, if your coop is liable to dip down below freezing,
make sure you’re out there two to three times a day collecting the eggs when they’re still
in a warm, thawed state. Supplemental heat is a really beneficial thing in the winter.
If you keep it above freezing inside your coop with one or two heat lamps, again, that’s
the porcelain ballast, red 250-watt bulb – having those on a thermostatically-controlled outlet,
thats going to keep that ambient temperature inside the coop up above freezing. So how
much light do you need to have inside your coop? Not too much. Really bright light is
going to actually cause more stress and problems than it’s going to be beneficial. If it’s
enough light to say, read a newspaper or magazine inside that coop, you’re going to be fine.
Only one to four foot candles of light is probably going to be adequate. In a coop this
size, one incandescent or compact fluorescent bulb of a 35-40 watt equivalent is going to