Capper's Farmer

Keeping Chickens IN WINTER

Suddenly, it’s getting darker earlier, temperatures are beginning to dip, and the flock is starting to molt. Luckily for chickens, they're incredibly adaptable. Chickens are not mammals like us. They're birds, and because of this, their bodies interpret weather differently than we do.

It's important when selecting breeds to consider their hardiness in the winter climate. For New Englanders, like myself, this means keeping cold-hardy breeds. Think of cold-hardy breeds like wild birds that don't migrate to warmer climates during the winter. Like the wild birds, they stay put and overwinter.

With a little planning, preparation, proper care, and management, overwintering your chickens can be a success.

Feather Replacement

Chickens prepare themselves for winter by going through a molt each fall. If more than a year old, a chicken will molt to replace its body’s feathers with new ones. Like all birds, chickens rely on their feathers to keep warm. Some chickens have milder molts than others, and some chickens seem to lose all of their feathers at once.

The molt is very systematic. The feather loss begins at the top of their heads, then progresses to the chest, back, wings, and finally the tail. Fall molts can start

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