Late winter and early spring can be a difficult time for chicken owners. The weather is unpredictable and can change at the drop of a dime. While caring for hens, chicks, and roosters in these seasonal midgrounds, certain steps should be taken to protect your flock.
For Your Coop
A well kept coop is one of the most important parts to keeping a healthy flock. In the early spring, the climate changes and seasonal shifts make for a precarious time. Rain can be plentiful, and humidity begins to rise on warmer days. Your chicken coop should have reliable and absorbent bedding, such as pine shavings. These will absorb the moisture from chicken’s droppings and will prevent the air inside of the coop from becoming too moist or humid. This can prevent problems like infectious bronchitis and other contagious respiratory diseases from developing. Your coop should be changed often to keep the ammonia from chicken’s droppings out of the air. On warmer days consider airing out your coop-if possible-or using a fan to pull air out after changing the bedding.
For Your Chickens
Your chickens will need to be closely monitored during this season. Many wild birds begin to return north after a long winter, and these can carry diseases that can be transmitted to your flock. Fresh water should be provided daily, and wet or moist feed should be discarded and replaced to prevent bacteria and mold from festering. Wherever they take their dust-baths, consider mixing the dirt in that area with diatomaceous earth to prevent lice, mites, and parasites from latching on to their skin. They should have a dry area away from snow and rain that will prevent them from getting wet in inclement weather. Wet chickens are an invitation for colds and parasites, so always make sure your flock has an area where they can stay dry.
There are a few other things that you can do to keep your chickens safe and healthy during this season changeover. Since wild birds can transmit parasites and worms through their droppings, consider de-worming your chickens during this time of year. Laying will be just picking up again after the short days of winter, so this is a good time to de-worm your flock with minimal stress to the chickens. Predators will be beginning to re-emerge in large numbers to feed their young, so make sure your coop is secure and without holes large enough for predators like weasels and raccoons to enter. Make sure your coop has no leaks or drafts, to keep your flock snug and dry at night. And check their water before they all head in for the night; they may begin to drink more as the daylight extends and the days become warmer.
Having chickens is a wonderful investment. They’re interesting and beneficial creatures that are sure to be worth your while. And by following these tips, you can be sure to keep your hens safe and happy as they cross over into a new season.