Common Chicken Predators Hanging Around The Coop

There isn’t much worse than counting your flock at the end of the day and finding one less hen in the coop. (Except not knowing what happened to your chicken).

That’s why it’s important to dig deep and learn about the common chicken predators in your area. Knowing what you’re up against can help you protect your flock from the beginning.

To help you get acquainted with your nemeses, we’ve put together this list of common chicken predators so you can plan ahead and keep your favorite hens around for a long, long time.

Raccoons

While raccoons don’t always go directly for the whole chicken, they do love to eat their eggs. 

A raccoon in the coop may introduce bacteria and disease into your flock (and your eggs). So if you see any of these cute little paw prints nearby, you know you’ve got a raccoon hanging around your coop. 

While raccoons are most interested in eggs, in the dead of winter, when they’re extra hungry, they may kill a chicken for supper (and usually won’t even eat the entire bird). 

Opossum

These little tracks come from an opossum loitering around your chicken coop. An opossum would rarely kill a chicken for its meal, but it isn’t rare for them to feast on eggs (just like those little raccoon bandits). 

You might be able to determine which predator is egg-eating by the location of the leftover shells. For example, raccoons can carry eggs a ways from the nest to feast, while opossums will typically nosh on them inside the coop.

Foxes

Foxes are one of the more well-known critters that supplement their meals with chickens from the coop. They’re sneaky, can get into some of the most well-planned coops, and usually come back time and time again.

Fox footprints closely resemble a dog’s footprint. The main difference? A fox has a more narrow pawprint with thinner claw marks. 

If your chickens go missing completely, with nothing but feathers strewn about, you can bet it was a fox or dog. 

Domestic Dogs

Unfortunately, our sweet pooches also enjoy a chicken dinner from time-to-time and if your dog hasn’t been trained to leave your chooks alone, you might have a problem on your hands. 

You’ll know your dog is up to no good because you’ll probably see the massacre happen or the carcass of the dearly departed within your yard. 

On the other hand, if the dog belongs to a neighbor, you may have to investigate the crime scene further and follow the clues to pinpoint the culprit. 

Coyotes

Coyotes are vocal animals, and while their paw prints look similar to most dogs, they can often be heard in the dead of night, calling to one another. 

If you have a coyote problem, you may need to consider a livestock guardian dog or at least upping your security around the chicken coop. 

With that being said, you might be able to determine if your coop has a coyote problem if the tracks left behind are less prominent than a dog.

Cats

If you live in an area where large cats, like bobcats or cougars, hang out, you’ll be in for a real war. These cats are smart, quiet, and quick. It’s difficult to identify a large wild cat unless you catch it in the act. 

If you think you’ve got a wild cat problem, consider putting up a trail came to see if your intuition is right. 

On rare occasions, barn cats may attempt to kill a chicken. However, it’s not a common occurrence. 

Once a barn cat gets pecked at by a chicken or two, they typically learn their lesson. On the other hand, young chicks and tiny bantams are more prone to domestic cat attacks than a full-grown standard chicken. 

Aerial Predators

Hawks, owls, and eagles are also common predators of chickens. You’ll know your chook was attacked by an aerial predator if they appear crushed, carried away, or ripped apart. 

You might see some tracks of these birds nearby, but in most cases, the attack is so stealth that there is little evidence of the attacker. 

Skunks

Skunks, like raccoons and opossums, are more interested in chicken eggs than the whole bird. 

Skunks will enter your coop, feast on eggs, and leave the shells behind. And on rare occasions, they may attack and kill a chicken for their meal. 

You’ll know a skunk is around if you smell them, but also by their 5-toed feet.

Weasels

Weasels are sneaky little critters with the ability to slither into small spaces to get to your unsuspecting chickens. While they’re small, they can pack a nasty punch. 

Weasels are known to kill chickens and eat very little of them. So if your chicken is dead, and looks like it never became someone’s meal, it’s possible the weasel is to blame. 

According to Critter Control, “A weasel footprint has five clawed toes surrounding a V-shaped paw pad.“ 

Snakes

Speaking of slithery critters, snakes are also on the list of common chicken predators. With that being said, they’re most interested in your breakfast…the eggs. 

Some wonder why their egg production has dropped, but soon learn that a sneaky snake has been eating their eggs…whole. Usually, a snake goes unnoticed, but if you suspect this reptile is your culprit, you may find snake skins nearby or a slithery path in the dirt. 

When it comes down to it, there are many predators of chickens and the best way to keep your chickens safe is to know what kind of critters you’re dealing with in your specific region. Then, plan your coop accordingly to keep your flock as safe as possible. Check out our article on why you need hardware cloth for flock protection (hint: chicken wire isn’t enough).

Henny+Roo regularly includes predator protection in our monthly boxes for chicken keepers. Items like predator urine protectants, reflective bird deterrent tape, and even inflatable faux snake decoys have been featured in the boxes of treats, health items, coop products and gifts that our subscribers enjoy monthly. Check out our subscription and non-subscription offerings at: hennyandroo.com

Selecting Spring Plants Chickens Won’t Eat

The deer in our area don’t care for Virginia bluebells, and neither do our chickens.

Chickens love eating plants! Grass, leaves, flowers – they’ll eat everything leaving your yard bare if they like what you have growing.

A rule of thumb that we go by when selecting plants for our yard is to select those that are deer-resistant. We have lots of deer in our area, but also have a fully landscaped yard that the chickens don’t bother because they’re all deer-resistant. We are in gardening zone 5, and are currently enjoy pachysandra, vinca, bluebells, bleeding hearts, pulmonaria, forget-me-nots, geranium, daffodils and various Spring ephemerals.

Your plant nursery or online source for plants will usually indicate if a plant is deer-resistant. You can also Google “deer-resistant plants for zone [your zone] or [your state].”

While chickens might eat anything if they’re hungry or bored enough, selecting plants that deer won’t eat may be your solution to keeping chickens and a beautiful garden.

You Need Hardware Cloth for Your Chicken Coop

The rustic fencing we’ve come to know and love is called chicken wire for a reason, right?

But names can be deceiving, and just because its been used for chickens for a long time, doesn’t mean chicken wire is the safest option for your chicken coop. 

The truth is, if you want to crawl into bed at night knowing your chickens are resting peacefully, and safely, consider using hardware cloth for coop construction.

Why?

Let’s dig into the differences between hardware cloth and chicken wire, and when each of the two can come in handy.

Chicken Wire

The first thing you need to know about chicken wire is that its main purpose is to keep chickens in…and not necessarily to keep predators out.

Its signature hexagonal design (now used in many rustic crafter treasures) is sturdy enough to prevent your chooks from escaping their designated living space but it won’t keep the hungry predators out.

If you’ve ever grabbed ahold of the chicken wire we’ve all come to know and trust, you’d know it’s quite flimsy. 

Strong predators can bend and flex chicken wire much too easily. And predators with sneaky paws, or claws, can easily kill a chicken from the outside of the pen and drag it through chicken wire for a feast.

But that’s not to say there isn’t a time and place for chicken wire, in fact, we use it in a variety of ways that won’t put our chickens’ lives in jeopardy.

When to Use Chicken Wire

Chicken wire has its place in the chicken coop. It’s best used in spaces you don’t plan to keep your chooks long-term.

For example, temporary cages, used to transport chickens from place to place, are fine uses for chicken wire. 

But if you thought you’d rely on chicken wire for anything permanent, you might wake up to an empty coop someday.

With that being said, if you know your local predators well, and plan the location of your chicken wire strategically, you may be able to get away with using it in certain ways, although it is not recommended for predator protection.

Additionally, chicken wire can serve purposes other than protection from predators.

For example, if you’d like to keep two different breeds of chickens separated within your chicken run, you can use chicken wire to do so. 

Have some baby chicks that you’re slowly introducing to the flock? Chicken wire can be a fantastic temporary container for your young birds. 

Chicken wire can also be used to keep your chickens out of places they shouldn’t be…like your flower beds or garden. 

The takeaway here?

Yes, it’s good for some things.

In truth, it’s been around since the 1800s so it’s definitely a timeless farm tool. 

With that being said, chicken wire isn’t the end-all be-all for protecting your chickens.

Hardware Cloth

When planning your chicken coop, one of the first things to think about is deterring your local predators. 

Unfortunately, our beloved flocks are at the bottom of the food chain, and while some chickens are savvier than others…there’s always one that’s a bit more aloof and easy pickings for predators. 

Hardware cloth is the perfect solution because it is much sturdier than chicken wire.

It can easily be buried along the coop border to prevent sly foxes and stray dogs from digging underneath it. 

And it holds up to the weight of some of the stronger predators. 

Additionally, hardware cloth is available in welded wire which makes it stronger than woven chicken wire. (although some hardware cloth is available in a woven format as well).

As a bonus, you can find different size “holes” in hardware cloth. So if you’ve got snakes, or weasels, as predators, you can find hardware cloth small enough to keep even the tiniest of predators out of your chicken coop.

While you’ll find that hardware cloth is significantly more pricy than chicken wire, your peace of mind is worth every penny. We have used this hardware cloth, ordered from Amazon, on our chicken run.

When to Use Hardware Cloth with Chickens

Hardware cloth should be used as a protective barrier between your chickens and any area in which predators lurk. 

In other words, your hardware cloth is the fortress surrounding your chicken coop. 

We also recommend hardware cloth for chicken tractors and for broilers being raised for meat. Especially if your tractors aren’t close to your home where you would otherwise hear distress from birds under attack.

In either situation, you’ll be happy you used the stronger layer of protection rather than something easily broken into, like chicken wire. 

If you’re unsure of which type of wire to use with your chickens, we recommend going with welded, hardware cloth over chicken wire. 

Our motto here is, better safe than sorry!

Remember, there’s a purpose for both types of wire, but if you want that restful night’s sleep, go with the hardware cloth to prevent losses.

And don’t fret, if you’ve already built your coop, you can slowly start to replace your chicken wire with hardware cloth. 

We know you take the safety of your chickens very seriously, so take it one step at a time and start doing a little remodeling. Your chooks won’t mind one bit. 


Henny+Roo is the first and foremost subscription box for backyard chickens keepers. Each month, we ship high-quality treats, coop products, wellness items and other supplies for your flock, along with useful gifts for you. Our monthly boxes and non-subscription products make wonderful gifts for the chicken keeper in your life, even if that’s you! Check us out at: hennyandroo.com

8 Must-have Supplies for Raising Chickens

When you’re getting started with chickens, one of the first things you need to do is ensure you have all the supplies your flock needs. 

The good news is, the basics are pretty straightforward. We’re giving you the lowdown on the must-haves and a few optional extras.

Must-Have Supplies for Raising Chickens

The following items are absolutely necessary for raising a happy flock…so don’t skimp on these supplies for your new chooks.

1. A Chicken Coop (The Essential Supply for Raising Chickens)

A shelter for your chickens is definitely a no-brainer. But what you might need to hear is that it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. In fact, some of the safest, most functional, chicken coops are made from repurposed materials. 

The only things you need to be sure of are:

  1. That no predators can get in and kill your chickens
  2. That your chickens are protected from the elements
  3. There is proper ventilation

Other than that, your coop can be made from anything you’d like. So feel free to go all out or get a little thrifty when planning your first chicken coop. But whatever you do, don’t skimp on the hardware cloth!

2. Bedding for Your Chickens

Hand-in-hand with your chicken coop is the bedding you use inside the chicken coop. The purpose of having a layer of bedding on the bottom of the coop is so their droppings don’t sit on the floor of the coop. When they sit on top of bedding, they dry out faster and are easier to remove. We recommend using straw, pine shavings, sand or even dried leaves. 

Pine shavings are a good bedding choice in the chicken coop.

And as a word of caution, never use cedar shavings (the fumes can be toxic to chickens). 

You may also wish to try a product that speeds up drying and reduces odors and ammonia in the coop. We recommend Sweet PDZ Coop Refresher, and have featured it in our monthly supply boxes for chicken keepers.

3. Chicken Specific Feeders

If you imagine completing your morning chores by tossing corn to your chickens in the yard, think again because chickens need containers for their feed. 

You see, chickens pick up parasites, or coccidia, from eating food straight off the ground in their coop or yard. This is because they also poop in their yard, and that’s exactly how parasites get passed from one chicken to another…by inadvertently eating feces (among other things). 

Feeders also keep chicken food clean and dry. Plus, they prevent your soon-to-be chooks from scratching their feed all over the coop, making it inedible, and just plain undesirable. 

We use this Harris Farms plastic feeder in the Henny+Roo coop, and love that it can be hung from the rafters. This prevents the chickens from being able to use their claws to scratch food onto the floor, saving feed. It’s also very easy to fill from the top.

4. Waterers that Work for Chickens

Just like containers for chicken feed, waterers are simply non-negotiable when it comes to supplies for raising chickens. 

Chickens need water available at all times, but especially in hot weather or when being fed dried insects, like mealworms.

Founts made specifically for chickens are our recommendation because they’re made to keep dirt, feed, and droppings out of the water (ensuring it’s fresh and clean for your chickens).

We have used this Harris Farms waterer for a while, and like it because you can fill it from the top. Many waterers require you to fill it upside down, attach the base, then flip it over and hope water doesn’t get everywhere, or the base doesn’t fall off completely. The nipple attachments reduce leaking and keep the water cleaner.

Consider a heated waterer if you live in cold climates so that your flock always has access to water when the temperatures are below freezing.

5. The Right Feed for Your Chicken Breeds

While it’s not a bad idea to mix your own chicken feed, as a beginner, it’s simply easier (and most likely cost-effective) to rely on the ready-made formulations. 

You can rest easy knowing your chickens are getting the nutrition they need from feed created by the professionals. 

So if you’re raising layer hens, make sure you grab the layer-specific feed because it has the right nutrients to help support strong, delicious, eggs. 

On the other hand, if you’re raising meat chickens, look for feed labeled for raising meat birds.

Chicks have their own special feed as well. Be sure to read the labels to determine when to switch young chickens from chick feed to layer feed.

A feed that we are excited to try is Chicken Layer Love from EL CU Animal Nutrition. Chicken Layer Love is for egg-producing hens and is a complete, natural and sustainable feed containing all of the nutrients your flock needs, along with the mealworms and dried black fly larvae that they love. If you’d like to try this for your flock, click the link above and use code HENNYANDROO at checkout to save 5%!

6. Nesting Boxes

If you want to have clean eggs (and be able to find them) then you’ll need nesting boxes for your layer hens. Hens prefer dark, clean, well-protected spaces to lay their eggs. Each hen does not need their own nesting box, but you should have enough to reduce any drama. We’re not sure about your chickens, but ours have a favorite nesting box and usually bicker over it, even though it’s identical to the others! It’s recommended that you have one nesting box for every 4-5 chickens.

You can purchase ready-made nesting boxes or simply DIY them! Pinterest is a great place to look for nesting box and design ideas for inside the coop. We use these Miller Wall Mounted Nesting Boxes because they are easy to remove and clean.

7. Grit for Great Digestion

Grit is a finely ground, hard substance that chickens consume in order to digest their food properly. It sits in their crop and grinds food so that their bodies can more easily absorb nutrients. So while it might seem like an optional add-on, it’s a necessity for happy healthy chickens. Some chickens are able to get enough grit in the form of tiny rocks or coarse sand if they free range. If not, make grit available to the birds anytime in a separate container than their food. They will eat as much as they need, when they need it. Grit for chickens can be found at your local feed store or online. We like Poultry Grit from our friends at MannaPro.

8. Dust Baths

Dust baths are often overlooked when it comes to chicken-keeping supplies. But the truth is, dust baths aren’t just a luxury item for your chickens. They’re also a way for chickens to naturally prevent external parasites, control their body oils, and kick boredom to the curb during long winter months. 

You can make your own dust bathing area by providing a corner in the run that has loose soil, fine sand, or even wood ash. The dust bath material does not necessarily have to be in a container, but if it does, you can build it out of wood, or provide an inexpensive shallow plastic bin. It should be large enough to allow your chicken to lie in, spread their wings and flick dust over their whole body.

There are commercial products you may wish to place in your dust bath area if dry soil is not available, such as Lixit Chicken Dust Bath.

Optional (But Good-to-Have Chicken Supplies)

The following items aren’t necessary, but they’re definitely helpful to have. With that being said, don’t worry about stocking up on these things until you’ve got the basics covered.

Oyster Shells – Great source of calcium (not a replacement for grit because it’s soluble)

Treats- To treat your chickens and add some extra protein try XXXXX

Swings – Who doesn’t love chicken swings?

Apple Cider Vinegar – Add to water biweekly for added immune support

Nesting Box HerbsHenny+Roo’s Coop Complete Dried Herbs can be sprinkled on the coop floor, nesting boxes and dust bathing area to repel pests and calm chickens. All of the selected herbs are safe if ingested, are thought to have health benefits, and are GMO-free with no added chemicals or preservatives. A little goes a long way, so use sparingly and add weekly or whenever bedding is changed. 

Spray for Lice and Mites – Keep on hand in case of an external parasite outbreak

Diatomaceous Earth – Great to dust coop with between cleanings to kill external parasites 

The point is not to get overwhelmed when you start raising your chickens. Because, in truth, chickens are pretty content when their basic needs are met. Once you know you’ve got everything you need to raise happy healthy chickens, don’t be afraid to add-on some extras, just for fun. 

Henny+Roo Monthly Supply Boxes for Chicken Keepers

Chicken keepers ourselves, we would never include an item in our monthly supply boxes that doesn’t get our flock’s cluck of approval. You’ll find that we put a great deal of thought, research and time into the selections for each box.

Save 10% on your first subscription with code NEWSUB at hennyandroo.com!

We will help you build your chicken emergency kit, try new treats that your chickens will love, learn more about how to care for your animals with books and magazines, and enjoy chicken-themed gifts, cooking items, and other goodies. It’s the only way we know to truly surprise yourself with a gift – one that supports your favorite hobby.

Henny+Roo boxes make the perfect gift for the chicken keeper in your life (even if that’s you!). Show your loved one that you love their chickens too by purchasing a subscription or something from our Shop.

Find Beautiful Plans for Your Next Chicken Coop

Is it time to take your chicken coop to the next level?

When it comes to creating the perfect home for your new flock, you may have something special in mind. 

But if you’re not familiar with planning a construction project, you might be looking for a little inspiration and guidance. 

So we’ve put together this list of ideas that will help get those wheels turning. 

Find Chicken Coop Plans on Instagram

Instagram is one of the most visual social platforms around. And if you follow some favorite chicken-loving accounts, you know there’s usually something beautiful to ogle over. 

Whether it’s pretty little eggs all in rainbow rows or a new chicken coop plan created al la Chip and Joanne from Fixer Upper, all you have to do is hit the right hashtags to get an eyeful of chicken fix-for-the-day.

Type in some of the following to bring up some fantastic chicken coop ideas to spark your imagination:

  • #chickencoop
  • #chickencoopplans
  • #coops
  • #chickencoopideas

And of course, don’t forget to follow us for your daily dose of poultry eye candy.

Find Chicken Coop Ideas on Pinterest

We’ll admit, one of our first places to dig up inspiration is usually Pinterest. And that’s because it’s one of the most visual search engines on the planet with millions of contributors, just like us.

In fact, we’ve got a board set up specifically for new chicken owners looking for coop-building inspiration. 

So go check it out, we’ll wait.

Oh and here’s a special tip: if you search for free chicken coop plans, a bunch of freebies will pop up for you to print out and work off of. 

Our advice? Find a predator-proof plan, use what you’ve got, and then snaz it up once it’s complete. 

Some of the most straightforward designs turn out to be the most beautiful. 

In fact, we’ve seen some pretty impressive coop designs out there (some are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, like this one).

Just remember, the most important thing is safety and functionality, beauty can come later!

Facebook Groups of Chicken Fanatics

Facebook can be like the wild wild west, at times. Everyone seems to have the all the answers. 

And, in truth, there’s plenty of good advice from experienced chicken owners on Facebook. 

But instead of falling down the rabbit hole, here’s what we suggest:

Join a handful of chicken groups and search for the term “chicken coop plans” or “chicken coop design” rather than asking questions or endlessly scrolling the feed.

Who’s got time for that? Not us! We’d rather be with our chickens.

By searching, you’ll avoid the know-it-alls and still get the inspiration you’re looking for when planning your first chicken coop design. 

And be sure to check out Henny+Roo on Facebook while you’re there!

Chicken Coop Planning Books

Lastly, you can always get find inspirational and coop-planning books that walk you through the exact process of building your first chicken coop. 

All you have to do is page through and find the design of your dreams…then head to the lumber yard!

These are some of our favorite chicken coop building books.

  1. DIY Chicken Coops: The Complete Guide To Building Your Own Chicken Coop

2. Building Chicken Coops For Dummies

3. 40 Projects for Building Your Backyard Homestead: A Hands-on, Step-by-Step Sustainable-Living Guide (Creative Homeowner) Fences, Chicken Coops, Sheds, Gardening, and More for Becoming Self-Sufficient

Coop-planning books are great for beginners who need a little extra advice when building their first coop. 

Usually, everything from the nesting box to the dust bath, and the roost is already planned out and included. 

Plus, you know that you’re following plans for a coop that’s been tested against the elements and predators. 

So go ahead, and take the experts’ advice. You can always add your personal touches after the coop is complete, like this coop sign now available in the Henny+Roo Shop:  

Amazon for Easy Peasy Chicken Coops

We know not everyone has the time, or ability, to design and construct their own chicken coop. But, if that’s you, it shouldn’t stop you from making your chicken dreams come true. 

You can find pre-made, semi-started, chicken coops on sites like Amazon. Here are a few that have received good reviews:

  1. SnapLock Formex Large Chicken Coop Backyard Hen House 4-6 Large 6-12 Bantams
  2. GUTINNEEN Outdoor Wooden Chicken Coop Large Hen House Poultry Cage, 69in, Waterproof UV Panel
  3. PawHut 114″ Wooden Customizable Backyard Chicken Coop with Nesting Box and Runs

Pre-made chicken coops come ready to snap together, and in most cases, all the designing and safety considerations are all done for you. 

With that being said, it’s still a good idea to review the materials the coop is made from. That way, you can ensure that it will hold up during bad weather and cold conditions (if that’s where you’re located). You may have to fortify premade coops by adding a 2×4 base frame, hardware cloth on any openings, a stronger door locking mechanism, and/or a protective wood finish to lengthen the life and protectiveness of the coop.

Also watch for treated wood and materials that might be toxic to chickens. 

An excellent way to ensure you’re purchasing a quality coop is to read through the reviews of what previous buyers have said about the chicken coop. 

We wish you the best in creating a safe and happy home for your flock!

Preparing Your Chicken Coop For Winter

When winter temperatures roll in and the days get shorter, it’s time to winterize your chickens for the months ahead. 

And if you do plan ahead, you and your chickens will be ready for the frost when it arrives. 

Most importantly, your chickens will be happy, healthy, and laying eggs all winter.

So how does one winterize their chickens for the cold months ahead?

Well, we’ve got a few simple-but-necessary items to tick off your winter prep list. 

So rest assured, your chickens will be cozy and comfy all winter long. 

Keep your chickens healthy this winter. Chicken in snow.

Prepping With Cold Hardy Chicken Breeds

Before we dive into prepping your chickens for winter, let’s first consider the breeds of chickens in your coop. 

Do you know whether they’re cold hardy breeds? If so, there may be a bit less prep work for you to worry about. 

Some breeds, like the Wyandotte for example, are suited well for colder climates. 

Breeds like the Wyandotte are heavier, have shorter combs, and have dense, loose feathering that can handle a long cold winter. 

On the other hand, breeds with large combs may struggle with ailments like frostbite. Similarily, breeds with tight, lighter, feathering will not insulate as well as the larger, fluffier breeds of chickens. 

Other breeds that can stand up to the cold temps are:

  • Buff Orpington
  • Americauna
  • Dominique
  • Rhode Island Red
  • Jersey Giant

So if you’re at the beginning of your chicken-keeping journey, take some time to research the breeds you’re most interested in. Then ensure your breeds of choice will tolerate the climate in which you live. 

If Your Chickens Aren’t Cold Hardy

Heat lamps can cause fire in chicken coops. Panel heaters are safer.

If you’ve got a few chooks in the coop that cannot tolerate the temps, you might need to consider adding a heat source to your coop. 

Typically, artificial heat sources are discouraged because they can be dangerous fire hazards. 

Additionally, heating your chicken coop could set your chickens up for failure if your electricity goes out. You see, your chooks won’t have had the chance to adapt to the cold winter temperatures. 

So plan accordingly, and if possible, do your best to allow your chickens to manage their own body temperature. 

With that being said, if you’ve determined that your beloved flock will indeed need a heater, you can find safer options like the PetNF Chicken Coop Heater

Prevent Drafts in Your Coop During Winter

Even more dangerous than cold temperature is a draft during bitterly cold weather.

Drafts can cause otherwise hardy chickens to become chilled, get frostbite, and contract respiratory problems. 

So before you even worry about the coop temperatures, test your coop to ensure your chickens are safe from rogue drafts. Look for nooks and crannies facing the direction winter weather most typically comes from.

With that being said, your coop should never be completely closed off. In other words, your chickens do need some ventilation. 

The trick is to make sure there is adequate airflow, but not where your chickens roost.

Give Your Chickens Fresh Water During Winter

One of the biggest challenges for chicken lovers is to keep water fresh and unfrozen 24/7. 

It’s a common misconception that chickens (or other animals for that matter) can eat snow and remain sufficiently hydrated. 

Don’t make this mistake, or you’ll end up with sick chickens. 

You can find heated waterers at your local supply store or online. And while heated waterers are generally safe, make sure you supply electricity to these waterers with fire safety and prevention in mind. 

Chicken Litter Options for Cold Winter Months

When bedding your chickens for winter, you have the unique opportunity to consider different litter options. 

You can simply choose to use straw or pine shavings (never use cedar as it is considered toxic for chickens).

But on top of your chosen litter, you can also employ the deep litter method in your chicken coop. 

This is a newly embraced method of bedding, which includes the accumulation of absorbent materials over time. 

In other words, you keep adding bedding to existing soiled bedding. Piling bedding, rather than removing soiled bedding, creates natural insulation against the frozen ground and a lovely compost for use later. A product that helps neutralize ammonia in the coop while remaining safe for garden use is Sweet PDZ Coop Refresher. We’ve included samples of this product in our Henny+Roo monthly supply and gift boxes for chicken keepers, and our subscribers have noted that it dramatically reduces odors.

The trick is to agitate the deep litter and add more clean bedding when needed so your chickens aren’t living in feces (which can create parasite and respiratory problems…among other things).

Speaking of parasites, since your chickens are all hunkered down together for the snowy months ahead, they are also more susceptible to sharing external parasites.

Routine fluffy-butt checks will help you identify and treat an external parasite problem before it’s out of control.

Frostbite Prevention for Chickens

Just because your chickens have big beautiful combs doesn’t mean they’ll contract frostbite during the winter. 

But if you’re worried, you can find products like Green Goo All Natural Poultry First Aid to help prevent and treat frostbite on your prize-winning rooster’s comb. 

Certain balms and salves help insulate your rooster’s comb so that it isn’t exposed directly to the bitter cold. Some even opt for a simple application of Vasoline if the forecast predicts sub-zero temps. 

Extra Protein and Treats To Keep Warm and Busy

The cold weather takes its toll on farm animals during the winter. And that’s because more energy is needed to stay warm; thus, adding extra protein to your flock’s diet helps your birds stay healthy and warm through blustery winter months. 

Provide chicken-friendly table scraps or scrambled eggs for your chickens as an extra snack to both boost energy and prevent boredom (which can also lead to pecking). 

Special treats like FlyGrubs or Henny & Roo’s Pecktacular Grains and Mealworms are always a hit in the henhouse, and during the winter, everyone could use a little extra to snack on. 

If you’ve done your due diligence and prepped your coop for winter, your chickens will come out the other side happy, healthy, and maybe even a little more portly than before. 

At Henny+Roo, we’re here to help support you and your clucks with monthly boxes filled with treats, tools, and valuable info that can help you raise happy and healthy chickens all year long. 

Avoid Coop Fires

Sadly, we are already reading of coops lost to fire caused by heat lamps. If you have cold hardy breeds suited for your climate, they do not need supplemental heat in the coop. Here in Northern IL, our issue is frozen water, and since we were given this panel heater from PetNF to try out, we decided to install it and hang the waterer nearby. It’s doing a great job of keeping their water from freezing, and in the spring, we will use it to heat the chick brooder. If a panel heater is on your Christmas list, find it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/3ahmkB7

The Grub Life

An interview with Raoul Benavides, owner of Iowa Blue Farm

Raoul Benavides, Owner/Operator, Iowa Blue Farm

We were proud to feature Black Soldier Fly larvae from Iowa Blue Farm in our December box, and thought you’d like to get to know the owner, Raoul Benavides. We hope you enjoy learning about him and his business as much as we did!
-Your friends at Henny+Roo

Hi Raoul! How did you get started in this business and why are you passionate about BSF larvae?

I come from a long lineage of entrepreneurs. I am always searching for new ways to challenge myself. I wanted to do something tactile that was environmentally responsible. I think like a farmer and really love working on process based projects. Black Soldier Flies were a natural fit. (Learn more about Iowa Blue Farm here.)

What is your role at Iowa Blue Farm and how does your family support that?

I am the owner/operator. I wear all the hats. Of course, family and friends provided incredible amounts of support labor and feedback. I have had some really dear friends supporting me at the beginning. I did lots of experiments getting the flies to breed early on. I went from my basement to a 1000 square foot space and we are in the process of moving into a 10,000 square foot operation this month. From artists to designers to engineers, my team helped create the specialized gear needed to breed, feed, harvest, dry and package these very unique creatures.

Do you have any pets?

I have had a number of urban hens through out my life. Right now, I only have a lovely grouchy cat named Diego.

What’s your favorite part about your work?

 It’s incredibly rewarding. I get to manage and fine tune a whole life cycle of this beautiful insect and along the way lower the carbon footprint, provide jobs and feed chickens.

What’s surprised you about your business that you didn’t expect when you started?

At first, I didn’t really see the scale. This thing can be massive in cultural impact. I am hoping to open an indoor shrimp farm soon that runs entirely on Black Soldier Fly Larvae pellets. My dream is to turn the dried black soldier fly larvae into a small cookie that we can giveaway globally in order to end world hunger.

Big thanks to Raoul for sharing his work with us, and for providing his products, which we’re sure your flock will love, for our December boxes. Didn’t get one? We have just a few left in our Shop at hennyandroo.com, and for a limited time, you can save 10% sitewide with code CHICKENLOVE.