Winter laying hens
When breeding chickens, each farmer needs to know what content of laying hens in winter is required to provide birds with what kind of heating is needed. Surrounding the hens with the most comfortable conditions is one of the best signs of care. Especially for feathered pets, comfortable conditions help increase productivity and improve health. But how to ensure acceptable conditions in the winter season to care for farm chickens, when they systematically decrease egg production, and their main instinct at this time of year is independent reproduction. Moreover, the content of chickens in winter at home is significantly different from the life of laying hens in enterprises.
Care for birds during the winter season is very important, as this is a special season. At this time, it is worth paying close attention not only to the room in which you keep your chickens, but also to their nutrition. The farmer needs to know what temperature the hens can withstand at home in winter. They should have a heated living room. If there is no such function, then the hens can freeze with the advent of cold weather. Sometimes in winter, farmers keep their pets in a polycarbonate greenhouse, as this is the easiest solution if you do not have a warm room.
How to prepare a chicken coop for frost?
Care for the winter keeping of chickens should be as early as possible before the onset of the frost itself, even in the autumn-winter period. The best rooms for wintering are wooden houses, greenhouses or garages. The most important condition when choosing a room is the absence of any holes through which a cold wind can blow into the future chicken coop. Also, a ventilation system should be equipped in the future house, as fresh air must be present throughout the year and chickens in winter will not suffer from a lack of oxygen. Cultivation and maintenance of domestic broilers, chickens and chickens should be carried out in a clean room, where also during the winter birds will be provided with perches, poles, feeders and drinking bowls.
A mandatory step in preparing the chicken coop is disinfection. It is necessary to disinfect the room thoroughly and completely before the wintering of your chickens begins. Walls and floors must be brushed using disinfectants. At the time of cleaning, all individuals should be removed from the premises. Birds should not inhale chemicals. Typically, a limestone solution in the proportions of 10 liters of water per 2 kilograms of lime is used for this purpose, but some poultry farmers also use blowtorches in the process itself.
If the future house is covered with mold, then chickens cannot live in this room and caring for chickens in the winter will turn into their death. Excessive moisture and fungal infections will attack your livestock. If animals are hatched under such conditions, they die, limp, fall to their feet and suffer from various diseases. in order for the laying hen to give the required rate of eggs in the winter season, the conditions of detention must be proper. If you plan to build a winter version of the house in a former greenhouse, you need to remove all old weeds from the ground.
If you provided the hens with an insulated house, then you need to insulate it with improvised means. The floor is prepared as follows: it is covered with sawdust, straw and peat. All this needs to be well stopped to lay the layers of the litter. A well-prepared litter for the chicken coop is guaranteed to keep the temperature from 12 to 18 ° C. Old bedding that you used in another room should not be used. Litter should be fresh and new. The walls can be sheathed with plywood boards. If there are holes in the walls or on the floor of the room, then they should be repaired with putty. Also through the holes in the floor and the smell of grain can come rodents, which are carriers of disease. If you are preparing for the winter in a region promising severe frosts, you should be prepared for the fact that your chicken coop will not do without heaters.
However, in this situation, it is also worth providing the chicken coop with sufficient fresh air. Watch out for drafts. With a constant supply of fresh air to the chicken coop, the layers of laying hens should be clearly located at a distance of about 60 centimeters from the floor. Heating appliances should not be turned off even at night, otherwise the room in severe frosts quickly cools and the birds can freeze. If in winter it is planned to breed chickens, then immediately after birth they can be placed in a wide box and a lamp of 60 watts can be attached from above. It is necessary to heat and apply lighting for whole days, until the young growth.
If you notice that the chickens huddled together and tremble, then this is a sure indicator that the birds are cold. In this case, lower the lamp slightly closer to the box. If the youngsters scatter in the corners, the feathers stick out, their legs do not hold, their tongue is out, then this indicates that the birds are too hot. to reduce the temperature, you need to raise the lamp. Humidity and temperature indicators should be kept at the following levels: temperature should not exceed 18 ° C, humidity - 70%. Chickens will carry eggs equally worse when both excess and lack of these parameters.
The next problem facing poultry farmers preparing the chicken coop for winter is lighting. With properly arranged lighting it is quite possible to maintain the fertility of the layers and even slightly increase their productivity. This requires exclusively fluorescent lamps, as usual for this purpose - inefficient and rather weak. It is worthwhile to install the lamps as high as possible in those places to which the chickens cannot reach - due to their natural curiosity.
The best daylight hours for chickens during the winter are divided into two “periods”: from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., after - from 5 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. We also recommend that you take into account and prevent the presence of constant, stable electricity in advance - laying hens are extremely resistant to interruptions in lighting. It is very good if you have a constant and uninterrupted source of electricity - for example, a generator. Then the winter maintenance of laying hens will bring joy without disappointment. You can see in more detail how to install lighting in the house in a photo or video.
Winter diet criteria for chickens
Vitamins and vitamin complexes play an important role in winter chicken nutrition. It is highly desirable that they are constantly present in food. Good nutrition and health, as well as the productivity of birds, depend on well-formed nutrition. The main food for chickens in winter is hay from leafy grasses, harvested from the summer season. You can also pre-prepare small bundles of various herbs: clover, nettle, mouse peas, and hang them in the chicken coop so that the birds can reach them and keeping chickens in the autumn and winter will take place with vitamins.
Since the main percentage of the winter diet falls on crops, it is also worth giving chopped boiled vegetables (potatoes, beets, carrots and zucchini). Poultry eat such vegetables well. You can make a mixture of vegetables. In the cold season, the food should be a little warm, but not cold. Should be drunk in small portions. The fact is that the birds need to warm themselves and eat a warm, fluid mix or paste. Feeding birds is in a certain systematic and without interruptions: at 8:00 and 13:00 serve mixers, mixes, and in the evening at 18:00 - hay and whole grains.
You can’t give a stirrer to birds in the evening - they are fed in the morning and at lunch, in the evening a denser dinner with an emphasis on crops is necessary. Drinking water should be clean and warm. At the first signs of contamination, as well as cooling water - the drinkers should be washed, water - replaced. During the winter, the drink of both adults and young growth must be warm, it must be regularly heated.
Vitamins in the winter for birds
What needs to be done so that the birds do not suffer from vitamin deficiency and poor health in the winter? How to keep hens in the winter? The winter diet must include sucrose, calcium and carotene. Among these three elements, calcium-based top dressing is one of the most important, because with its deficiency the eggshell becomes thinner, cracks more easily, and the layers themselves, in the absence of calcium in the food, can cease to carry at all. The optimal solution is the presence in the chicken coop of a separate container for chalk, gravel, crushed shells or small pebbles, that is, pure calcium. If you notice that the eggshell is getting softer - this is a direct sign that you need some measure to replenish calcium in the diet. Carotene will enter the body of birds with chopped carrots, sucrose - with the help of boiled potatoes. These vitamins are necessary to maintain the immunity of hens and their good health.
Favorable and successful enough if you live in a country house - this makes it possible to diversify and fill the chicken diet with grain waste (for example, barley or corn seeds) and keeping your chickens in winter will not be difficult. Cake of sunflower seeds brings the greatest benefit; it is an excellent source of the required amount of protein and fat for birds. With the right combination, distribution and systematic nutrition, cake will retain the ability of chickens to carry, until the very end of winter, until the beginning of spring. If you do not follow the correct diet, on which the birds' well-being in winter depends, then the pets lose their feathers, do not go out for a walk, after which they stop laying eggs or die.
At any time of the year, laying hens need walks and fresh air. It is important to be able to provide this to them in the winter, not only in the warm seasons. For winter walking, a summer aviary is suitable for someone, and for someone, an equipped greenhouse. If you keep individuals in a polycarbonate greenhouse, then you can build a kind of balcony next to it. If the street is calm in winter, the temperature is about 0, then you can let the layers out on such a balcony for at least 5-10 minutes, even if there is snow around. It is better to enclose the aviary for reliability with wooden fences, using brushwood, reeds or straw so that keeping your chickens in the winter does not turn into hunting for them in neighboring areas.
It is worth noting that if the hens live in the winter season in the country house in a temporary house, then this is not bad at all. Most breeds tolerate cold weather fairly well, but do not let them out at temperatures below -12 ° C. How long should a walk be in winter? The maximum duration of a winter walk is 2 hours a day, but no more so that the birds do not freeze. It’s also not worth giving them the open area of the house, as the birds may not feel like they are freezing. All walks must be carried out under the supervision of the farmer. In the networks on video you can see healthy and moving chickens briskly running in the snow when the weather is not very frosty.
You can also walk them on the street, but it is important to know that in snowy weather the walk is automatically reduced to 15 minutes. On the ground before a walk you need to lay a litter, the same as in the chicken coop itself.
What to do when reducing the fecundity of chickens?
If you notice that the number of eggs is steadily decreasing - review the diet of birds, dilute the diet with vitamins that may have been absent before (and caused a decline in productivity). Also among the reasons are sometimes listed as short daylight hours. in emergency cases, poultry farmers increase it to 14 hours - but at the same time, not forgetting that such a long daylight hours can significantly reduce the life of chickens. Increasing daylight hours is only as a last resort, with caution and prudence. Always maintain the optimum temperature in the chicken coop, from 12 to 18 ° C so that the winter content of the livestock is not very different from the autumn and spring.
Make sure that it is well insulated, eliminate drafts. A significant factor in comfort is the dryness and cleanliness of the litter. If chicken droppings are dirty and everywhere, this can also cause apathy, illness, and impaired egg production. Chicken droppings during prolonged decomposition release harmful substances that chickens should not breathe. If this rule is not observed, then the birds may develop ammonia disease. Disinfect the room once a week completely. Every day you should clean the drinkers and feeders, remove chicken droppings. You need to take care of the birds carefully, then they will thank you with delicious and healthy eggs.
Winter, cold period requires more active participation and attention to the living conditions of chickens. The conclusion is that any factor can undermine the well-being and productivity of birds - and a lack of any elements in the diet and a violation of temperature, drafts or insufficient lighting in the chicken coop. All these factors must be carefully monitored to prevent disruptions in the ability of chickens to lay eggs.
- Litter needs regular cleaning. To prevent excess litter from rolling in it, it is useful to spread grain over its entire area. This is both useful and practical - the grain will provide the birds with the necessary vitamins that they need during the cold season and that is why the hens themselves will actively loosen the litter with their beaks in search of it. In addition, it is recommended to loosen the litter more often with a rake.
- In the aviary, as well as in the chicken coop, containers with sand and ash must be standing. After a walk, individuals can clean the feathers and remove bugs and garbage from them. After each walk these containers must be removed so that they remain dry.
- If you want to increase or vice versa reduce daylight hours for laying hens, do it gradually every day. Because there are dramatic changes, chickens are not physically able to tolerate without stress. Toward the beginning of spring, daylight hours can be gradually reduced.
- When growing eggs through an incubator, do not wipe the protective film from the shell, otherwise this may cause bacteria to enter the future chick. If chicken droppings are noticeable on the egg, then it should be carefully removed with a dry cloth, it is not necessary to wash the shell.
- For dinner, birds should be given whole grains. Do not give soft mixers. In addition to supplying vitamins in grain feeding, there is also a strategic step - it will take the whole night to digest whole-calorie whole grains, during which they will warm up significantly.
- Give your birds new nests closer to winter. Newly secured nests are able to increase the productivity of laying hens. Do not perch or nest too high. It should be convenient for birds to get to them.
- Calculate the area of the chicken coop in the formula 1 square meter per 1 individual. If the birds will be crowded - many of their vital signs will decrease, therefore, walking is desirable. Parents and their offspring need to be kept together. If the laying hen understands that you have taken the chickens, it may become stressed and stop laying eggs. At first, the female with the babies should grow up and walk together.