January Backyard Chicken Checklist: 9 Tips to Help Your Flock January 10, 2020

Start the new year off right and keep your backyard chicken flock clean and organized with our January backyard chicken checklist. Learn about chicken care tips and must-have products to help your flock get through winter.

A Blue Favaucana and an Exchequer Leghorn enjoy a snow day outside.

1. Give your flock outside access.

Even if you think it’s too cold, give your chickens access to the outdoors. They’re smart enough to decide for themselves how cold is too cold. You’d be surprised at how well chickens do in the cold when allowed to acclimate naturally, with the changing seasons. Provide them access to their run, and let them decide where they’d like to spend their time.

And if there’s snow on the ground, consider throwing spent shavings, wood chips, straw or hay on top. This will make the ground feel warmer to their tootsies, and your flock is more likely to give it a go!

2. Order your spring additionsbefore our most popular breeds sell out.

We offer an awesome selection of exclusive, ultra-rare, and heritage breeds. Often they’ll sell out for the entire year within just a few weeks of going online, so don’t wait—shop now!

Don’t worry, though—if your favorite breed isn’t available, there are 5 secret ways to get sold out breeds.

3. Restock your chicken first aid kit.

It’s important to keep a Chicken First Aid kit on hand in case any unexpected injuries happen in your flock. Now is a good time of year to restock supplies or start a first aid kit if you don’t have one.

4. Check your chicken coop and run for proper vents and no drafts.

As in all seasons, you want good ventilation in your coop, but in winter it’s important that there be no drafts. This can be a little confusing, can’t it? Try thinking of it this way: Generally, a draft is the air that blows directly onto your chickens at floor level where they stand, or at roost level where they sleep. Ventilation, on the other hand, permits air to escape the coop (overhead) but does not allow it to blow directly on the chickens.

5. Fight your flock’s winter blues with boredom busters.

Chickens spending too much time indoors can get bored! Without adequate stimulation, they may pick on each other out of boredom. Here are some ideas to liven things up for them:

  • Add a boredom busting ball to your run or coop. Fill it with treats such as greens and other snacks your flock enjoys.
  • Hang half a cabbage just above head height so your flock has to jump to get some.
  • Add greens to the top of their feeder or in a hanging basket or treat ball. They’ll love to pick at them.
Keeping your flock entertained is an important part of the Backyard chicken checklist.

6. Inspect your flock for signs of illness.

This is one of the most important things to do from our backyard chicken checklist! Ideally, you should be checking your flock daily for signs of illness or stress, but we often miss issues such as bumblefoot, mites, and, pecking issues. Monitoring your flock’s health will help you stay on top and care for your flock the best way possible.

7. Keep the backyard coop extra clean.

A clean coop is a happy coop! Be sure to clean the droppings boards and add fresh pine shavings to the coop floor and nesting boxes. We recommend cleaning your coop and run monthly with barn lime. Spread around your coop’s floor and run to repel and deodorize your chicken coop year-round.

8. Consider adding light to your coop to stimulate chicken egg production.

You don’t have to use light at all. But if you do want to add a light to stimulate egg production, studies have shown that 14 hours of light per day is ideal. If you decide to add light to your coop, make sure to wait until after your birds have had their annual molt, and add it at the beginning of the day only. So if there are 9 hours a day of light where you live, have your light set to turn on 5 hours before dawn.

Fresh Backyard chicken eggs.

9. Take the edge off with a (safe) chicken coop heater.

While we don’t recommend offering supplemental heat to your flock full time, if you have certain breeds and varieties which are less cold-hardy, a younger flock that’s not fully feathered out, or if there are especially harsh winters where you live, then it can be a good idea to add some warm spots in your coop with a supplemental heater.

Whatever you do, though, don’t buy an infrared heat bulb! Buy a safer, radiant heat panel. Plus, these use way less energy than those dangerous bulbs, so you’ll save on electricity over the long haul.

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