Frozen Chicken

It’s even hard for me to believe at times just how very much I adore raising chickens.  I’m not necessarily a country girl, I didn’t grow up with animals, never was a part of 4-H & truth be told I always avoided the animal barns at the county fair.  But, somewhat on a whim, after moving out to some acreage, I ordered my first batch of chicks.  And I’ve loved nearly every day with my chickens since.

Chickens.  They’re kind of amazing really.  I only have ladies. {our two “oops” roosters became soup a while back}  We are a completely pasture-raised chicken operation around here.  The ladies can wander anywhere on the property {or off} that they desire.  The dogs keep them off the lawn, the cars keep them off the road, but otherwise they’re free to roam.  They put themselves to bed at night & the door closes behind them & they are secure until morning when the door opens to let them out.  They eat some organic feed, some table scraps & a whole lot of bugs and whatnot from wherever they scratch.  And then they lay glorious, delicious, fresh eggs.

Chickens are a great gateway animal to farm life.  I mean, you may not want to jump in full force with a heard of cattle or a pen full of pigs, but chickens are completely doable.  And fun too.  After nearly two years of learning {mostly trial and error} here are my top things to make chicken raising the best it can be during the winter:

  1. Get your chicks from a  reputable chicken seller.  All of my day old chicks have come through the post from on online chicken store.  Yes, that sounds strange but it works and is wonderful.  I use mypetchicken.com.  I have had a great experience with them.  They guarantee their chicks & are quick to refund or offer replacements when things aren’t quite right.  They have many, many varieties to choose from.
  2. Get yourself an automatic coop door.  You will thank me for this!  We installed this one last year & it has changed my chicken farming life.  I no longer have to go to the coop in the morning to let the ladies out & I no longer have to go down after dark to make sure the ladies all went to bed.  It all happens without me.  It is 100% worth the cost.
  3. Don’t worry about heating your coop {if you live in the frozen tundra}.  The ladies really don’t care.  We added a heat lamp once to the coop & even on the coldest of days the ladies sat outside.  All I could figure the heat was doing was thawing the poop & making is moist {ew, I hate that word} and smelly.  Both are bad for chickens.
  4. Do worry about fresh water.  If you live in a climate that is freezing, make sure that you have a good heated water dispenser.  Chickens need water.  And they can’t get it it it’s frozen.
  5. Do not force your ladies to lay through the winter.  This may be my personal opinion, but I think it’s best for the ladies.  Ladies lay based on the sun and the amount of sunlight hours there are.  You can artificially add light to the coop to trick them into laying all winter long at the same rate that they lay in the summer months.  But they were not designed to lay all winter & to do so can cause their lives to become shorted, their eggs to become less substantial and their lives to be less than full.  Additionally, chickens that lay in the harsh winter months can suffer calcium deficiencies that can lead to bone fractures and even death.  Just count on less production in the winter and know that spring is coming & you’ll be overflowing with eggs soon.
  6. Get yourself a great winter wardrobe.  Even on the coldest of days, even if you have an automatic door you will need to go the coop at least once, but most likely a few times to make sure water is liquid, food is provided & eggs are collected.  This will be much less awful if you’re dressed for it.  Trust me!  Your wardrobe need not be spectacular.  The ladies don’t care.  But it will need to be warm & you will need to cover you skin. FullSizeRender 65

I’m placing my order later this week for my spring chick additions.  I’m looking at some unusual breeds and some fun colorful egg layer for this batch.  I can’t wait for them to arrive in a few months.  I love chickens!

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