So we added more roosting spots, at different heights, and protected these roosting areas from the wind with solid sheets of Lexan, discussed above. Chickens can easily become dehydrated in the winter as their water sources freeze. I have a nice, warm, hay-filled covered area for them with Preparing your coop for winter isn’t necessarily enjoyable. So I was asked how we kept the chickens warm this winter a LOT, from other chicken keepers, people interested in getting them, and people just enamored with our weird, cold climate. We’d also like to add some roosts to the barn. It's all served up with a lot of turquoise and a slice of rural life on the shores of Lake Superior. Do you have to remove the heat reflecting insulation in the summer? We weighed the pros and cons and decided the risk of freezing was much higher and the reviews were really good, so we bought the heater and have been really pleased with it. The first step is to pick the right kind of chicken! I occasionally had to treat Pewter’s comb for frostbite, so it’s good he was ready for a cuddle because I had to get super close to administer the ointment. What I Do The answer to the question “do chickens need heat in winter?” is a complicated one, but here’s what I do. Here's some easy ideas for what to make 'em! A good couple hours spent out in the deliciousness of a fall afternoon, and you can make sure that you keep chickens warm and as happy and comfortable as possible through the winter. You’ll notice how they begin to change their behavior when the cold really starts to set in. Did you know that chickens need to keep their feet covered with their bodies in the winter to prevent frostbite? Or I would give them their fave, sunflower seeds, because having something in their bellies before bedtime helps keep chickens warmer in winter. The first thing to do when winter begins to set in is to make your coop smaller. So we made some adjustments and added a heat source for especially cold days, but insulation was key to keeping the heat in, and keeping chickens warm in extreme cold winter weather. You can expect their caloric needs to increase by 10 percent or more in cold weather. My chickens figured out how to eat snow for water. The plywood didn’t reach all the way to the automatic door so at night they had a small area in which to snuggle and heat but there was space for them to access the other side, which contains the nesting boxes. Remember to fill each box with a bit of additional bedding material as well. This is a great way to keep chickens warm in winter. When you keep roosting bars as close to the ceiling as possible, it helps the roosting chickens get more heat. I waited to share this post, about keeping chickens warm in extreme cold weather, until winter was technically over. So I took the reflective sheets down and scrubbed them all (and the walls and vinyl sheet floor). With winter fast approaching I've had a lot of people asking me how to keep your chickens warm in the winter. It’s just enough to warm them up without getting them too hot or too dependent on a heat source. How many winters have you gone through with your chickens? Great post. In the coop we continued to use shavings and I tried the deep litter method but couldn’t get the hang of it, so I spot cleaned poop out every couple of days and changed it over entirely every couple of weeks to keep it clean and dry in there. In the winter, we would put hot water in their mash, used a metal bucket, each morning and each night they got warm mash. You can use leftover vegetable stock, add dried herbs to the water, or ask your vet about any nutritional supplements you can add to your chickens' water. My style is a mix of vintage finds and coastal vibes, with a relaxed approach to sustainability. If you take them warm water, steam is going to come off of it until it's cool. Within the chicken coop, the start of the cold season means cold water, unhappy and cold chickens which results in low to no egg production. Do chickens have morale? I didn’t check them on mild nights but whenever it was cold enough for the heater, I’d go check on them just to be sure. It provided them a lot of shelter and although it was a bit more work to build, I highly recommend a mini barn to enclose a coop if you live somewhere really cold. A lot of chicken coops are highly vulnerable to the cold, harsh winds of the winter season. How to keep chickens warm in winter: Do not add heat lamps. Bonus points if you have bees: I have a friend who uses these to help keep his hives warm in the winter by setting it underneath the hive. Obviously this method of keeping chickens warm in extreme cold winter weather requires power, while some of my other suggestions don’t require electricity, but I want to be honest and say that we did need this quite a few nights this winter. It won’t keep chickens warm in winter. Keeping Chickens Warm Outside in Winter Chickens are not big fans of the snow, but most will still go out and forage if they get the chance. If you don’t have a heated waterer for your chickens that keeps water from freezing, bring you chickens out some warm water twice every day. It’s where their roosts are and they liked to hang out. Do let them, as they will know what is best for them and keeping them cooped up all day is not good for them. I keep water in a kettle on top of my wood stove during winter, which helps me humidify my house and heat the chickens. They help a lot in keeping warm air inside the boxes. Plus I think the chickens preferred to walk on the straw as opposed to the frozen soil – I also added heaps of this same straw to the barn floor for a little extra insulation too. It may be a good idea to add supplements to your chickens' water during the winter, as this can help your chickens get the increased vitamins they need for their coats and feathers. It’s crucial that as winter begins you ensure that the chickens will not freeze their feathers off. Coop location will definitely impact how easily your chickens will be able to keep warm during the winter. I’m so glad you found it informative. However, you and I both know that during the winter months, the chickens’ water bowl always freezes over. I would go out there on super cold days and tried my best to snuggle them a bit. Water Heater for a Nipple Watering System Here’s a great solution for those of you that have nipple waterers using an Ultimate Bucket Heater . It’s winter. I didn’t want to jinx it, and was worried that the second I’d start typing up a “how-to,” I’d lose a beloved chicken to cold. And for me, I’d like to add an awning to the run door because the snow would melt off the roof on rare warm days and then freeze the bolt shut, and create a dangerous patch of ice right there too, so I need to stop that from happening. Winter is just around the corner, and if you have ducks, you can’t go into hibernation quite yet! In a mild winter, this is totally sufficient, but we found that on extremely cold days, they could not produce enough heat to warm the coop. If this isn’t the first year, you know that some winters can be much harsher on your chickens than others. It’s important that you change how you feed your chickens during the winter compared to how you do it in the summer months. But if you do keep chickens during the winter, don’t despair – these steps will make your winter preparation easy and seamless. It was definitely a learning experience figuring out how to keep our chickens warm in really cold winter wearther, because many sources I read about “keeping chickens warm in winter” don’t have the intensely cold and brutal winters we have, so I was shocked when my chickens were cold. A definitive guide for keeping your chickens warm and happy this winter. After you’ve made the coop smaller by closing off a portion of it for winter, cover the outside of the boards with things like tarps, moving blankets and additional insulation from foam boards you might have on hand. Frozen water is a big problem and the best solution, for us, was a heated waterer. Spend some time insulating areas of the coop that the chickens can hide in when the winds get harsh. They are likely to be the thirstiest at dawn and dusk. Keeping your chickens warm during the harsh winter months doesn’t need to be daunting. It’s cold and unforgiving. If the temperatures continue to drop, add some straw insulation around the outside of the coop for more protection. Yikes, yes, you definitely know about COLD winters!! We also plan to build way more roosts, swings, platforms – basically a chicken jungle gym (you can buy this kind of thing too), so they have more areas to roost and tuck their feet under them. Closer to bedtime, on super cold days, I would make them some scrambled eggs and veggie mash (I use a food processor to mash up veggie scraps and herbs and add to scrambled eggs) or some oatmeal with cinnamon, to help warm their tummies. We quickly realized that it let in too much of a draft so we closed off one side (inside the half of the coop where they slept) and bought a vent with a foam filter for the other side, to allow air but not as much wind, to travel. Use Deep Litter to Keep Them Warm. This website uses affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission from your purchase - at no cost to you. Made my life much easier. I love making things and getting my hands dirty. We’ve only had chickens for a year and although we did a ton of research, there’s still so much to learn and some of it you need to just learn by experience and figuring out on your own, because we all have different climates and different breeds. The one issue to watch for is humidity. Close up your bottle and place it in your waterer. I’m Tanya. I live in Saskatchewan so I know all about cold winters! Here’s a look at the vent we temporarily closed off – it was lakeside, with lots of wind, but we’ll open it up again in the summer. F eeding chickens in the winter I find that when the mornings are really cold, my chicken’s water is usually frozen solid. For winter, we had to make some adjustments to shelter the sides from snow and wind, which really was integral to keeping chickens warm in extreme cold winter weather. is a risk of 0%. I read that introducing a heat source too soon could prevent them from naturally preparing their bodies/feathers for winter, so we only introduced this when it was the dead of winter and they really needed it. It’s not the prettiest, but it’s better than a tarp because it lets in light and the chooks could still see out. Coal, my Silkie, then went broody and refused to go inside at night, so I’d have to put her in there every night. And no animal should be left to freeze if there are additional measures you can take to help them. To make nesting boxes cozier and warmer for your chickens, hang some curtains in front of each one. If you’re looking for a quick rule of thumb, during the winter your chickens’ water intake will be roughly 1.5 times their feed intake. Once we realized the chickens were getting chilly, we halved the coop to keep the chickens warm in winter. So we made some adjustments and added a heat source for especially cold days, but insulation was key to keeping the heat in, and keeping chickens warm in extreme cold winter weather. But picking cold hardy chickens was the first step – although even my Silkies survived and they’re not bred for anything but looking good, lol. Dans le Lakehouse is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. To fix this I bring out a jug of hot water to start the day off. This is an important step to take if you’re trying to keep chickens warm in winter without the aid of electricity. If right now your daffoldils have popped up, you never had a real winter. We had put the “right” amount of ventilation when we built the coop and barn, but maybe it was too low, or too much for our intensely cold and windy climate. Chickens provide entertainment, farm-fresh eggs, natural Please DIY safely!  See the full Disclaimer here and Privacy Policy here. We also spent a lot of time tinkering and adjusting to get everything just right, so there was a huge learning curve that happened this winter. Close off parts of the coop with boards. Also, throw in a bit of scratch grain every day. We never had any problems with it, although the lid would sometimes freeze shut so to fill it up every few days, I’d need to bring it inside the thaw open the lid. However, they’re going to require a little extra help with their food when all their warm-weather sources are gone or frozen. ). Your email address will not be published. A lot of chicken owners try to heat their coop without the use of electricity. But if you have access to electricity in the coop, it might be a smart idea to use it to keep chickens warm in winter. bottle (mine was Diet Coke, yes I know not healthy, but we all have our vices), add 1/4 cup salt and fill with water. 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