If the January chill finds you inside, cozy up with one of the many catalogs, in print or online, of hatchlings and start dreaming up your spring flock. If you are adding to an existing one or starting fresh, a flock should be customized to your purpose or preference. The American Poultry Association (APA) recognizes several breeds and over 300 varieties of chickens—the possibilities are endless. Choose your chickens because you love the color of the egg, the intricate wing pattern, place of origin, or their disposition. No matter which color, shape, or size you choose, it’s easy to have your own perfect flock.
Chickens suffer less in cold weather than in hot; with our mild winter temperatures in Baja Arizona it’s easy to raise poultry. Follow these few simple tips to keep your flock in tip-top condition.
Dip or paint high viscosity oil on chicken legs and feet monthly to keep scaly leg mites away. To prevent frostbite when nightly temperatures drop below freezing, cover combs and wattles with Vaseline.
Trim foliage to allow plenty of sunshine into the yard, or make a chicken tractor to move the flock around the sunniest parts of the yard.
Feed a small handful of grains each night and first thing in the morning to increase body warmth.
Encourage eating by moving feed stations around the coop, offer healthy treats daily, and on really cold days offer a warm moistened mash.
Make sure night perches are wide enough so sleeping chickens can warm their toes with breast feathers and that they are installed two feet from the coop ceiling. You can also install a protected heat lamp near the perch and turn on when the temperature drops below 35°F.
Replace wire windows used for summer ventilation with solid walls.
Repair roof leaks and encourage rain run-off to puddle in your garden instead of your coop.
Aerate soil and replenish with fresh clean sand. Remove damp litter and bedding in the coop or around the water source, improving the humidity and preventing odor-causing bacteria. Update bedding; remember dry and loose is the most insulating.