Caring for chickens in cold weather in Winter.

1. Low environmental temperatures can lead to cold stress in poultry. 

  • a) Cold stress is more dangerous than heat stress.

2. When temperatures drops below 7 * Celsius 

  • a) high chick mortality 
  • b) retarded growth
  • c)  not reaching peak production 
  • d) delay in sexual maturity 
  • e) fluctuations in egg production  occurs.

3. A chicken’s body temperature lowers when it loses more heat than it can produce.

  • a) Huddling together, holding a foot up to their breast, or puffing their feathers are all signs that your chickens may be cold.
  • b) Prolonged cold stress can reduce performance and lead to death.

4. Feeding:

  • a) You can continue to feed your chickens their normal, balanced diet. 
  • b) A balanced diet plays a key role in feather and egg production. Keep in mind that your flock’s feed intake may increase up to 25% during cold weather. 
  • c) Be sure to have extra feed on hand and top off feeders routinely.
  • d) Generally, 10-20 grams of feed will be added to each chicken 1-2 days before the cold current. 

5. Watering:

  • a) Water is a key part of your flock’s diet and is necessary for digestion. Without water, chickens will stop eating. 
  • b) Your chickens should always have free access to fresh, clean water. 
  • c) During cold weather, you will need to keep your chicken’s water from freezing.

6. Supplemental light:

  • a) As daylight shortens, you will want to provide supplemental lighting to encourage egg production.
  • b) For optimal egg production, chickens should have about 14 hours of light daily. 
  • c) You can provide light using a regular lamp and a timer. 
  • d) After December 20, daylight will increase. As the days become longer, you will need to adjust your timer so that chickens continue to receive about 14 hours of light daily

7. Collect eggs as soon as you can and throw away any with cracked shells.

8. Manage manure and provide ventilation to control moisture.

9. Humidity is also one of the determinants of air temperature..

  • a) The most suitable humidity for laying hens is generally 50% – 65%..

10.The birds, being homoeothermic species like man, maintain their body temperatures constant round the year. 

  • a) During the winter, the temperature must be hot enough so that birds feel comfortable.

11. Environmental stress adversely affects the production performance of commercial poultry.

12. Immunomodulator reduces stess by stimulating immuno modulation process thereby enhancing productivity and reduces mortality in all stress factors affecting poultry.

Cold stress and immunity:

13. Cold and moderate nutritional stressors have effect on innate immune component (e.g. phagocytic activity, natural antibody levels), both at cellular and gene levels. 

14. Environmental stress adversely affects the production performance of commercial poultry.

Dr V. Rajendra Prasad