Getting Ready for the Cold

The wooly bear caterpillars are looking for homes under fallen leaves.


They’re not the only wooly things around. Candy has shed her summer coat and her winter pelt is dense and soft. She stays outside all winter and it will keep her quite warm. To keep her extra-comfortable, we’ll remove the shade tarp so that she can bask in early morning sun. She’ll have extra hay to burrow in. We’ll staple black plastic on two sides of the hutch to stop the wind. If a snow storm is predicted, we’ll cover the hutch with a shower curtain. But, Candy loves the snow. You’ll see. She tunnels. She hops. She plays. I just have to make sure that her ears don’t get dry or frozen. I’ve got special lotion for that.


The goats are getting wooly. It’s been cold in the morning and they look like fuzz balls. Here Caper is chewing his cud. He would like to convince me that he needs to get fat for the winter. More grain, please. I don’t cave in, despite how hungry he looks. (Goats are always hungry!) When it storms this winter, the goat boys will be snug in their stall. I’ll keep them out of ice and wet weather, but I hear they like snow. They’re certainly getting dressed for it. We’ll see.


Some of the chickens are molting. They lose their old feathers and grow new ones. Like wild birds, chickens use their feathers for insulation. When it is cold, they fluff up and the trapped air keeps them warm. You do NOT need to heat your coop! But it must be dry and draft-free. The hens will be fed a higher energy ration in the winter (more corn) so that they can keep their body heat up. The goats will be jealous.

The molt does not happen all at one time, and not all chickens molt alike. Some lose all of their feathers. Some go naked just around their necks. Some go into a sulk. Some don’t care. Betsy lost her tail feathers. I think she’s a tad embarrassed. A white leghorn should have an elegant long tail like this:

long tail

This is what Betsy looked like today:

short tail

Don’t worry, Betsy, it’ll grow in soon.


  1. Growing up our goats loved the snow. They would lay out in the heaviest of snows and just get covered in it, the snow never melted. They had a nice goat shed with a thick blanket of hay but they seemed to prefer the snow covered grown.
    Molting: WOW this has been the year for a heavy molt in my birds. Most are half naked. Last night went I went to lock up three hens were huddled in the corner, odd to say the least. When I went to pick them up I seen why they were not on the roost (my roost start at 30 inches off the ground) they had lost the majority of their flight feathers, in 40+ years of being around chickens I don’t know that I have ever seen that.
    Enjoy the fresh apples. My grandpa had to have applesauce with every meal (except breakfast).

  2. My birds look dreadful..maybe the sign we might have a REAL winter here in California and get some RAIN??????? I can see the new feathers coming in on their backs so maybe there is hope….Looks cold there Terry….all the fall leaves on the ground, and the chickens are in the coop earlier than usual! Donna