Chickens and Cold Weather Print this pagePrint this page

Chickens and Cold Weather We get a lot of questions about cold weather. Will my chickens survive? What can I do to keep them warm? How cold is too cold? Should I have insulation on the coop?

Okay, before we get started on cold weather tips, we want you to consider that chickens have survived the ages. They've made it through without electricity or modern technology. Of course, that being said, we all know that modern technology has improved life expectancy significantly over the last thousand years.

So, how does this apply to chickens?

First and foremost, chickens need to be well fed and hydrated to help them produce enough energy to fight off the cold. For hydration, your chickens just need access to water. Keep in mind that water freezes in cold weather and chickens cannot drink ice very well! So, one key to keeping chickens healthy in the winter time is making sure the water does not freeze. This can be accomplished with a heated waterer or electric heater base.

After hydration, chickens need food to keep producing body heat. Chickens will burn a lot more calories in the winter just producing heat. It's one reason that egg production slows down or stops in the winter. So, to keep your chickens pumped with enough calories to stay warm, feed them your normal feed but also add in some scratch. You can substitute cracked corn for scratch if you want. Just keep in mind that there is not as much natural food available in the winter time. For this reason, it's good to supplement their diet with more feed or table scraps.

As for the hen house, many people ask us about insulation or heating. Firstly, you don't want to completely close off the chicken coop as your chickens need ventilation as well as warmth. So, when winterizing your coop, you don't want to completely wrap it in plastic. It needs to breath a little! If you have a coop that has a very open air design, it will help to cover some areas with plastic or plexi-glass. However, don't make it air tight. The coop still needs ventilation. If you want a heat source we recommend hanging a light bulb. If your environment is really, really cold, we rocommend using a brooder bulb. Those 250W bulbs will heat up your hen house or chicken coop very nicely!

So, in three simple steps, cold weather chickens need more water, a little more food and possibly a small heat source (like a light bulb). Please let us know if you have any quesitons!!!