How To Care For Chickens During the Fall

SS Project Manager

Super Self-Sufficient
Jul 9, 2012
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We are approaching the end of summer, which means cooler, shorter days and fewer daylight hours ahead. To survive the coming winter, mice and rats begin seeking warmth. Fall is also a time for harvesting, berries, and hips. How can we maximize the positive aspects of backyard chickens this season while minimizing the negative ones?

Below are six tips for keeping them healthy and safe this fall.

1. Feed healthy, seasonal produce to your chickens.​

How To Care For Chickens During the Fall

Over the summer, we have been feeding our chickens healthy food to improve their immune systems. Flowers, fruits, and weeds were abundant in the garden. Considering the fact that such growth will wane soon, we should be able to find some treats that are more appropriate to the foods that we can find with the changing climate.

Fortunately, it is harvest time, and abundance surrounds us.

Locating inexpensive bounty sources.​

Wind-fallen apples and pears are an excellent low-fat, vitamin-rich fall treat.

Plant your own berries next season or find free berries in hedgerows. Antioxidants and vitamins C and K are found in blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries, which boost the immune system and repair damaged cells.

Take a look at the rosebushes in your garden. Can you see hips there? It is a good source of vitamin C and can be crushed.

As for fall foods, pumpkin is a classic. You can chop or spread them on the ground or in the compost. It won't be long before they're gone!

If the ground is wet, it is advisable to feed treats in a container.

At this time of year, keep an eye out for shops selling damaged or bruised fruit at bargain prices when you don't have access to your own fruit and berries. It may even be discarded if it has been damaged in transit. Furthermore, leftover pumpkins are cheap after Halloween!

Talk to your neighbors. Fruit trees may be present there, so there may be windfalls you can collect!

Make plans for next year's sunflower garden. Dwarf ones can be grown on a window sill in a pot, while large ones can be grown on a sunny balcony.

What is the right amount to feed?​

Take advantage of the abundance of fruit while you can, but do not overindulge them. Remember the 90/10 rule at all times. A chicken should consume 90% commercial feed and 10% treats like fruits, vegetables, and table scraps.

2. Watch for molting.​

How To Care For Chickens During the Fall

For those who have never seen a molting chicken, it can be pretty alarming. In the fall, they lose most or all of their feathers and grow a completely new set. It occurs to both hens and roosters.

It makes perfect sense. In cold weather, feathers need to be in good condition to protect against falling temperatures. Worn feathers provide less insulation.

Whenever your chickens seem dejected and look like they've turned into pillow explosions, don't panic! There's nothing wrong with them, they're just molting.

A drastic drop in egg production is also expected during the molting process.

3. Provide extra protein-rich treats.​

How To Care For Chickens During the Fall

It is important that we meet the flock's needs during and after a molt, especially during cooler, damper weather. Due to moisture in the ground during fall and winter, the ground becomes soggy and freezes.

Their diet must be supplemented with nutrients they can't find for themselves during this time of year since they can't forage freely like they do in the spring and summer.

Stocking up on treats with a higher protein content than summer feed is the best course of action. A good example is mealworms.

In spite of the fact that high protein treats can be given even in winter, moderation is advised.

4. Protect your chickens from pests.​

How To Care For Chickens During the Fall

Rodents, in particular, look for comfortable places to breed as the weather gets colder.

Since spring and summer food sources have disappeared, your chicken run and coop may provide them with a ready supply of grain.

Rats chew on baby chicks, chicken toes, and eat chicken eggs if they get the chance.. If you find broken eggs with the insides gone, do not automatically blame your hens!

5. Ensure your chicken coop is clean!​

How To Care For Chickens During the Fall

It is also a good idea to prepare your chicken coop for winter during the fall. Taking action before it snows and your fingers freeze is a good idea!
  • In times of hard times when food is hard to find, you should make sure your chicken coop is secure so predators won't catch chicken dinner.
  • Be sure your fence has strong connections, including locks, and is free of holes. Raccoons will certainly take advantage of this situation.
  • Ensure your overhead covers are tight and free of holes and loose ties to prevent birds of prey from entering.
  • Make sure the walls and floor of the coop are free of holes. There is no crack too small for mice or rats to squeeze through.
  • Make sure you have proper ventilation! Air should circulate above the chickens' heads; there should be no airflow or draft below them. It is very important to ventilate during the winter since there is a lot of condensation. Frostbite can form on the combs, wattles, and feet when humid conditions exist in subfreezing temperatures.
  • In preparation for winter, you should also make sure your chickens have toys or boredom busters since they might be cooped up most of the time.
  • As a final step, you should clean out your chicken coop by the end of the season. Make sure that you replace your old bedding with new bedding after sluicing the coop down with apple cider vinegar and letting it dry. If your coop has parasites such as lice & mites, you can dust it down with diatomaceous earth powder.
Clean the nest boxes as well.

6. Fall leaves & chicken care.​

How To Care For Chickens During the Fall

It is a favorite activity of chickens to forage among leaves. Frogs are also found there in addition to worms and insects. They're a great way to keep your flock busy when there isn't much else to forage for.

You can collect leaves from your garden (or from your neighbor - they'd love to get rid of them) for your run without trees. Let the chickens play in them in the coop.

Afterward, bag them up and let them rot down for next year's vegetable plot or garden.

For bedding, always use dry leaves. Having a damp coop in the fall could cause respiratory problems for your flock.
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Almost Self-Reliant
Oct 14, 2021
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USDA growing zone 4a/4b
Great post! We do all of those thing here ;) we clean with plain vinegar not apple cider vinegar but that is the only difference.

I do clean out the run prior to the coop, and add the coop bedding to the run and the run materials to the garden since it is about 6 months old. I do a deep clean 2x a year.