Chickens are tough creatures. However, if they aren’t kept warm enough, laying hens may stop producing eggs, and weaker flock members will get sick. Therefore, if you have chickens, you’ll need to keep them warm this winter.
Thankfully, there are a ton of different ways to keep chickens warm. Some farmers even have heat lamps that keep their coops warm. This article will give you 11 different ways to keep your chicken coop and chickens warm this winter.
Now let’s get into it!
8 Ways To Keep Your Chicken Coop Warm
Chickens spend most of their time in the chicken coop during the winter. Here are a few tips to warm the chicken coop.
Install Ventilation in the Chicken Coop
Even though the coop shouldn’t have any sizable openings for cold air, it’s important for your coop to have an effective ventilation system.
Vents should be positioned on the coop’s roof where the chilly air can’t directly hit your birds. You may lower the humidity and stop mold from forming in your birds’ bedding by venting out the warm, damp air and replacing it with cooler, drier air.
Your mesh vent should ideally have a hatch you can open and close. This will enable you to appropriately ventilate the coop during the day and shut it down at night when it is colder or during exceptionally strong rainstorms.
This 6-inch vent is small enough for any chicken coop. It’s a great budget-friendly option!
Insulate Your Coop
The walls of your coop can then be the center of your attention. There are many natural, cheap, or free ways to prevent heat from exiting your coop. Remember that keeping heat inside can sometimes be just as crucial as keeping the wind from the outside in.
Snow shoveled up against the coop’s outside or hay bales stacked outside the walls will also help keep chilly winds from entering the building. Inside, your coop’s walls can be padded with anything from insulation purchased at a home improvement store to cardboard, worn rugs, and towels.
Of course, you can also insulate the walls of the building itself. If you’re doing this, you should probably consider this when building the coop!
I recommend using this 3MM insulation. It comes in a relatively small bundle and is a great heat shield for your coop!
Minimize Drafts in the Chicken Coop
The rate at which your coop loses heat can be accelerated by wind cold. As the evenings grow longer, you must ensure that any air leaks are properly sealed. If your coop is brand new, there shouldn’t be many gaps, but if it’s older than five years, there’s a good probability that some of its components have begun to rot and need to be fixed.
The simplest and least expensive technique to fix the holes is to screw a piece of plywood that has been custom-cut over the hole. All openings in your coop should be sealed to prevent the temperature from decreasing too quickly, provided your vent is operating properly.
Deep Litter Method
The Deep Litter Method can help insulate your flock during cold times. It’s also a sustainable approach to managing the litter in your chicken coop! To successfully perform the deep litter method, lay a layer of pine shavings or other comparable organic material on the floor. Stir the bedding with a light rake, and let your flock’s natural movement take care of the rest, rather than cleaning or replacing the waste your chickens produce.
The litter will develop a compost layer if made properly and frequently replenished with pine shavings. This layer invites beneficial microbes in and enables them to digest the harmful bacteria in the hens’ feces. This is a much simpler approach to handling waste and helps to insulate your coop during the winter. It can also help you avoid infestations of lice and mites.
You must avoid using cedar shavings, which can poison hens.
Trap Heat Through Sunlight
Even though there are fewer daylight hours in the winter, you can still use sunshine to absorb heat during the day and keep the coop warmer at night. If you have a dirt or dark slab floor or employ the Deep Litter Method, well-insulated windows can operate as a sun trap.
Your coop can maintain heat for longer if it has more “thermal mass” (the ability of a material to absorb, store and release heat.) Your coop will emit heat more steadily once the sun has set the more thermal mass it has. Concrete, stone, and even the compost floor will all hold more heat during the day and release it at night.
Build a Place The Chickens Can Roost
If you want your hens to stay warm, you should allow them to roost. Roosting naturally gathers chickens together and fluffs up their feathers to keep them warm. Your roosts should generally be constructed at least two feet off the ground. Your chickens will feel safe and are will be kept off the chilly ground when they access a roost above the floor.
Ensure all your chickens have enough space to roost comfortably during the winter. Check them out at night to ensure this is the case. There isn’t enough room if even one chicken is on the ground—build them more!
Build Them a Sunroom
Although it may be tempting to shut your birds inside during the winter, your flock will benefit from having more freedom to move around. You can expand your coop to provide them extra room by adding a “cold frame” or greenhouse-style addition. Cover the addition in clear plastic to protect them from the harshest weather.
Your birds will have plenty of room and access to fresh air while still being shielded from the wind, rain, and snow.
Don’t Add a Heater
For winter warmth, avoid installing a heater in your chicken coop. Considering all the bedding; you’re probably asking for a fire. Chickens don’t need a heater, either. For warmth, they close ranks. The real key to preventing moisture build-up is ventilation.
Want to keep your water system warm this winter? Check out our guide on keeping your off grid water systems safe this winter!
3 Ways To Keep Chickens Warm This Winter
Now that we’ve covered how to keep your chicken coop warm this winter, let’s think about how to keep the chickens themselves warm!
Prevent Frostbite On Your Chickens
Breeds with big combs and wattles may be more prone to frostbite. You can apply petroleum jelly to their combs and wattles to provide additional protection and ward off the worst of the cold.
By following these instructions, you should be able to keep your birds healthy and happy throughout the winter. If your flock and coop properly care for, your hens will continue to lay eggs no matter how cold it is.
Provide Your Chickens Big Dinners
Give your chickens a nice meal of cracked corn before bed so they have something to digest and stay warm. Their favorite cuisine and a full stomach will make them happier. I know it sounds silly but, trust me, it works!
Give Them Something To Do!
Like people, hens can become restless and stir-crazy during the winter. In the coop, they appreciate a head of cabbage strung on a line. They attack it wildly while it bobs around. Try this easy method to keep your chickens content. It’s also a great show to watch!
Finally, you can do many things to keep your chickens warm and happy this winter. Plenty of these options are budget-friendly and even off grid friendly. So, don’t hesitate and warm up that coop! Cold chickens won’t lay any eggs!