If you’re looking for a spring chicken checklist to prepare your flock with, you’ve clicked the right article.
Spring is an exciting time for backyard chicken owners.
With warmer weather on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about preparing your flock for the new season.
From cleaning your coop to hatching sweet little chicks, here’s a checklist to help you get your flock ready for spring.
Spring Chicken Checklist
1. Clean Your Coop
Spring is the perfect time to give your coop a thorough cleaning.
Remove all bedding, straw, and debris from the coop and scrub the floors and walls with a mild, non-toxic cleaner.
A disinfectant spray like this could be beneficial here.
If you are using the deep litter method, you don’t want to completely empty out the litter.
But for all other coops, scoop it all out and thoroughly clean.
I have to recommend this Sweet PDZ Coop Refresher for the floor of your coop after cleaning.
It’s a 100% natural mineral that completely removes the musty chicken coop smell.
And it’s completely safe for compost piles, too, so you don’t need to worry about fertilizing your garden afterward.
Next, thoroughly clean your feed troughs, waterers, chicken swings, roosting bars, and nesting boxes.
Lastly, take care of any mud leading up to your coop.
As often as you walk to your coop, you’ve probably worn a path, and that path is probably muddy now that it’s spring.
I like using lime dust because it eventually sets up to be as hard as concrete.
Gravel, sand, mulch, stepping stones, or even sawdust are good solutions too.
2. Make Necessary Repairs
Spring is also a good time to inspect the coop for any damage or signs of wear and tear that may have occurred over the winter.
Make any necessary repairs, especially where drafts or potential predator entrances are concerned.
If you have an automatic chicken coop door, take the time to check the batteries.
Give it a quick wipe-down with a warm washrag and then a non-toxic cleaner.
3. Clean Your Chicken Run
It’s easy to overlook the chicken run, but your chickens spend a lot of time in here, and it could probably use a good cleaning too.
While you clean, be on the lookout for weakened or compromised spots where predators could force their way in.
If you have mud in your chicken run, consider using wood-pelleted bedding.
The pellets expand to soak up a lot of moisture and turn into typical shavings once they’re wet.
This is perfect for muddy areas that need a quick, non-toxic solution.
This works as a natural barrier from the sun, plus sunflowers are another excellent food source for your chickens.
However, be careful not to stifle the airflow too much!
That is equally important in keeping your run well-ventilated and cool in the summer.
If you intend on adding new chicks, make sure the bottom six to twelve inches of the run is secure so the little ones can’t walk out of the run.
They probably won’t stray far from the run, but they are much more susceptible to predators this way.
Hardware cloth is a great solution for this.
Chicken wire is also good, but it does not add any protection against determined predators.
4. Prepare for the Predators
Speaking of predators, it’s important to take steps to protect your flock from any unwelcome visitors.
Spring is a time when many predators, such as raccoons and foxes, become more active.
Winter is hard on wildlife, especially when it stretches longer than normal.
It makes them desperate, hungry, and more willing to prey on livestock.
Consider installing predator-proof fencing around your chicken run, and make sure your coop has secure locks and latches that raccoons can’t open.
If you live in an active bear area, as I do, quickly assemble your electric netting or fence.
Spring is a dangerous time in bear country; the bears are hungry and desperate for food after winter.
Shovel away the remaining snow if need be so it doesn’t interfere with your electric fence.
Also, make sure your fence is nice and hot.
6000 volts is the bare minimum, though 12000 is better if you can do that.
Test your fence periodically, ideally once a day.
The fence should be at least 5 wires, preferably 7, with the lowest 8 to 12 inches off the ground and the tallest at least 3 to 4 1/2 feet off the ground.
Electric netting is another solution that is fast and simple to install.
You can also install more passive deterrents, like motion-activated security lights, motion-activated sirens or alarms, water sprinklers, scarecrows, mannequins, or even motion-activated Halloween decorations.
5. Fill Your Incubator and Brooders
Spring is a popular time for hatching chicks.
So if you plan on incubating eggs, now is the time to get your incubator and brooders set up.
Check that they are clean and in good working order before you start.
You’d also want to make sure that you have all the necessary supplies on hand, such as heat lamps, feeders, waterers, chick feed, and bedding.
If you plan on incubating your own eggs, you can even keep track of which hens have produced which egg by dyeing their rump with food coloring.
The eggs will match the mother hen for easy identification.
You won’t be able to determine the paternity if you have multiple roosters in your coop.
So make sure you like all of your roosters before collecting hatching eggs.
Remember that hens can hold onto sperm for two to fifteen weeks, so she needs to be away from the undesirable roosters for at least that long.
If you’re blessed with a broody hen, you can skip the incubation step altogether.
How to Incubate Chicken Eggs
1. Choose a high-quality incubator and set it up according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
This 12-egg incubator is great for small clutches of eggs on your countertop.
But if you need to hatch a larger population, you can consider getting this 120-egg automatic egg incubator.
2. Obtain fertile eggs from your coop or another reputable source.
Store them in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to incubate them.
And don’t worry—it’s okay if they wait about a month before being put in the incubator.
3. Allow the eggs to reach room temperature before placing them in the incubator.
That is if they have been in an especially cool place.
4. Maintain the temperature and humidity levels in the incubator according to the recommended settings for chicken eggs.
Most incubators walk you through this step-by-step, but we also have a comprehensive guide on that.
5. Turn the eggs regularly to ensure that the developing embryo doesn’t stick to the side of the shell.
6. Monitor the eggs closely for signs of hatching, such as peeping or movement.
7. Once the chicks have hatched, transfer them to a brooder within 24 hours of hatching.
Provide your newly hatched chicks with food, water, and warmth
How to Raise Chicks in a Brooder
Here is an in-depth article on how to prepare for your new chicks’ arrival.
1. Set up a clean and dry brooder in a draft-free location with adequate ventilation.
This can be in your coop, on your porch, garage, or even in your house.
We have brooder recommendations here if you’re in the market for a new one.
2. Provide a heat source, such as a heat lamp or heating pad, to maintain a temperature of 95-100° F for the first week of life.
My grandmother always used a heating pad with a hanging feather duster to simulate a feathery hen.
She also used an old-fashioned ticking alarm clock to simulate the mother hen’s heartbeat.
It may seem silly, but her chicks were always so quiet, and her losses were unnaturally low.
I believe this calms the chicks and helps strengthen their immune systems thanks to the low cortisol.
3. Use a chick starter feed formulated for young birds, and provide fresh water at all times.
You can scatter the feed in the brooder or keep it in a shallow container.
The water needs to be shallow enough that it isn’t a drowning hazard.
For chicks that are a day to a week old in age, use pebbles in the water dish so it’s safer (they’re less likely to drown).
4. Keep the brooder clean by changing the bedding frequently and removing any uneaten feed.
You do not want worms, maggots, flies, or mold to take over your brooder. They’re fatal for fragile chicks.
5. Observe the chicks closely for signs of illness or distress, and take appropriate action if necessary.
We have several articles covering this topic.
6. Gradually decrease the temperature in the brooder as the chicks grow and develop feathers.
7. After 4-6 weeks, transfer the chicks to a larger coop or outdoor enclosure.
If you have older hens, it’s a good idea to transfer them to the coop where they will later live, so they can safely meet the other chickens without anyone getting hurt.
8. When your chicks are well-acclimated to the outdoors AND the other chickens, let them loose in the coop and chicken run.
Make sure they know where their food and water source is and that it’s accessible for them despite their smaller size– that’s an easy mistake to make as a beginner.
6. Springtime Wellness Check-in
Spring is a good time to give your chickens a wellness check-up.
Inspect their feathers, feet, and beaks for any signs of injury or disease.
Check for mites and lice, and treat them if necessary.
Ensure your flock is current on any necessary vaccinations or treatments.
If you’re ordering new chicks from a hatchery, they likely offer vaccinations before shipping the day-old chicks to you.
Some vaccinations you may want to consider include:
- Marek’s Disease Vaccine
- Newcastle Disease Vaccine
- Bronchitis Vaccine (often paired with Newcastle)
- Fowl Pox
- Fowl Cholera
Another great option is to simply test your flock.
Salmonella tests are fairly easy to access, and it’s recommended to test your birds when new arrivals come to your property.
7. Start Your Chicken Feed in the Garden
One of the best things about spring is the abundance of fresh produce.
If you have a garden, consider planting some chicken-friendly fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, squash, and greens.
This will not only provide your flock with fresh, nutritious food, but it will also help reduce your feed costs.
You can also grow seeds and grains for your chickens, like field corn, dent corn, sunflower seeds, alfalfa, wheat, clover, sorghum, amaranth, oats, and buckwheat.
Chickens and gardens go together hand in hand– be sure to read about the best chicken breeds for gardens.
8. Start a Mealworm Farm to Feed Your Chickens
Mealworms are a great source of protein for chickens, and they are easy to raise.
Consider starting a mealworm farm to provide your flock with a steady supply of these tasty treats.
All you need is a container, some oatmeal, and a starter colony of mealworms.
Here is our complete guide to making your own mealworm farm.
FAQs about Spring Chicken Checklist
1. Why is it important to prepare your chicken flock for spring?
It is important to prepare your chicken flock for spring to ensure their health and well-being.
Spring weather can bring new challenges for chickens, such as temperature changes and increased exposure to parasites.
By preparing your flock, you can help them stay healthy and comfortable during this time.
2. How can I make sure my chicken flock is healthy and happy during the spring season?
To ensure your chicken flock is healthy and happy during the spring season, it is important to provide them with a clean and safe living environment, access to fresh water and food, and regular health check-ups.
You should also monitor their behavior and look for signs of illness or stress, such as lethargy or loss of appetite.
3. What are some common mistakes to avoid when using the checklist for preparing my chicken flock for spring?
Some common mistakes to avoid when using the checklist for preparing your chicken flock for spring include not providing enough shelter or protection from the elements, not providing enough food or water, and not monitoring your flock for signs of illness or disease.
It is important to follow the checklist closely and make adjustments as needed to ensure your flock is healthy and happy.
4. What are the challenges I may face when preparing my chicken flock for spring?
Some challenges you may face when preparing your chicken flock for spring include dealing with unpredictable weather patterns, managing pest and parasite control, and ensuring your flock has access to clean water and food.
It is important to plan ahead and be prepared for these challenges to ensure your flock stays healthy and comfortable during this time.
Final Thoughts on Your Spring Chicken Checklist
Preparing your flock for spring may seem like a lot of work, but it’s essential for their health and happiness.
By following this checklist, you’ll be well on your way to a successful spring season with your feathered friends.
Remember always to prioritize the safety and well-being of your flock, and don’t forget to make time to enjoy backyard chicken keeping!
Here are a couple more articles you can read related to caring for your chickens in different seasons.