How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

How To Keep A Chicken Coop Warm In Winter

Not sure how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Then pull up a chair, because we got quite a few (battle-tested) ideas for you today.

 

(Want to know how to keep your flock’s water from freezing? Get my genius hacks here).

 

herbs for backyard chickens

 

While the winters never get too brutal here in Missouri, we still do get our share of freezing temps (usually in January and February) thanks to the polar vortexes from our Canadian friends up North.

 

And trying to keep a chicken coop warm in winter is never fun. In fact, it’s usually a battle of ingenuity, and we’re kept on our toes trying to find new ways to keep the flock toasty and cozy when it’s gotten so cold we don’t even have a prayer of getting the hose getting unfrozen.

 

Now before we begin, just remember: For the most part, your chickens will be fine during the winter.

 

Every year, I get a few people who ask whether their hens will freeze in temperatures below 40 degrees, and the answer is no. Your chickens will likely be fine no matter what.

 

Only once temperatures dip below zero and into the VERY below zero temperatures (negative 30 degrees, for example) do you really need to be concerned about keeping them warm.

herbs for backyard chickens

 

In temperatures above zero, your chickens will fluff their feathers to stay warm and all the walking around and foraging will help keep their blood circulating and their body temperature up.

 

At night, they’ll bundle together on a roost and keep their little legs warm by sitting on them.

 

But you still are probably wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter, so here’s some ideas we’ve used on our farm to get you started!

 

  1. Shut the door midday and let the sun warm your coop up

 

We’ve had a lot of luck with the various coops on our property by using solar energy to keep the coops heated.

 

Our coops have windows, so for the first part of the day, we can open the coop doors and let the hens forage.

 

About mid-day, you can close the doors and allow the heat to get trapped inside the coop, keeping it warmer than it would be otherwise.

 

Now, don’t ask me how many degrees this will raise the temperature – that’s going to depend on a wide variety of factors.

 

And this won’t work 100% of the time. But it might be the difference between 22 degrees and 32 degrees in the coop – and that’s a heck of a difference.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

2. Use lots of straw & clean out every week

 

Straw is an amazing insulator – that’s why you see those straw houses becoming so popular.

 

Putting about a foot deep of straw in your coop will do wonders keeping the cold air out and the warm air generated by your flock’s body heat in.

 

As a bonus, your flock won’t have to stand on a cold floor.

 

Now, you might hear that straw is not good to use as bedding – to each his own. Some people have decided that straw harbors mites, and the answer is if you don’t clean your coop, pretty much anything will harbor mites.

 

Clean the straw out of your coop weekly, and you’ll be good to go.

 

Wondering how to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Keep your backyard chickens toasty warm with these 6 genius hacks!

3. Deep litter method

 

If you don’t know what the deep litter method is, or if you’ve heard of it but aren’t sure what it entails, then you can learn everything you want to know right here.

 

Now for full disclosure, I don’t use the deep litter method. But people who DO use it claim it can raise the coop temperature by about 10 degrees – pretty significant when your talking about daily highs in the teens.

 

The reason it generates so much heat is because the manure dropped by the chickens composts, and the breaking-down process causes heat.

 

herbs for backyard chickens

4. Radiant space heater

 

Like the deep litter method, this one isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’re not sure what a radiant heater is, you can see an example here (you can also buy one here).

 

Now note, I didn’t say heat lamp – that’s a definite no-no because they get way too hot. Every winter, there’s a slew of posts on Facebook about people who used a heat lamp and their coop went up in flames.

 

Just say no to heat lamps.

 

Radiant heaters are a different thing – they don’t get so hot and have some safety features. They can raise the temperatures in your coop a few degrees, and that can make all the difference.

 

Just note, you will need an electrical source to use a radiant space heater.

 

Now, would I personally use one of these in my coop? Probably not. I’m WAY to paranoid about fires and our winters are not that cold – it’s the odd day that things get below zero.

 

That being said, you might want to use one – and if you do, the more power to you.

 

 

5. Use a treeline to break the wind

 

We have one horse pasture that I swear is 10 to 20 degrees warmer than the others. When the water is frozen solid in the other fields, it’s not even icy in this particular pasture.

 

And the reason is that there’s a lot of trees causing a ginormous windbreak. And it makes all the difference.

 

It’s pretty insane how much a treeline can keep a coop warm simply because it’s keeping the cold winds away from your flock.

 

If your chickens are in a tractor, or if you can somehow move them behind a treeline, you’ll be able to keep the coop from losing warmth.

 

If you can use something else to create a windbreak (moving the coop behind a structure so it’s protected), then that’ll work as well.

 

If you plan to use straw in your coop, you could even buy extra bales to create a “wall” to break the wind (don’t laugh – we’ve done it and it WORKS.)

herbs for backyard chickens

  1. Use insulation around doors and windows

This one will take a bit of planning on your part, but you can save a lot of heat by simply eliminating drafts. (After all, it IS those polar vortexes that contribute to the cold in the first place)

 

Making sure your coop doors and windows have proper insulation will go a long way.

 

Don’t use any of that spray foam however (my husband loves that stuff and it’s a nightmare to look at and clean up, and your chickens might decided to taste test it – never a good thing.)

 

If you’re trying to figure out how to heat a chicken coop in winter, then spend a little and get something like this that will do the job without taking the chance your flock will try to eat it.

herbs for backyard chickens

Want genius ideas to keep a chicken coop warm in winter? Here's 6 genius hacks perfect for beginner backyard chicken mamas!

Are My Chicks Too Cold Or Too Hot?

Are My Chicks Too Cold Or Too Hot?

 

 

Main Takeaways:

  • If your chicks are walking around, eating, etc, their brooder temperature is probably okay.
  • If they’re huddling under/near the heat source, they’re probably cold. (Might also hear loud cheeping).
  • If they’re scattered way away from the heat source, they’re probably too hot.

 

More reading:

How many chicks should be in a brooder

 

Chicken Emergency Kits: Making Stressful Situations Less Intimidating!

Chicken Emergency Kits: Making Stressful Situations Less Intimidating!

It’s always a very good idea to create your own chicken emergency kit – and in this article, I’m going to give you ideas about what to keep in it.

 

While we all might like to think our chicken-keeping experience will be bucolic and without any trouble, the straight truth is you will likely come up against some sort of trouble at some point.

 

Mites, worms, cuts, or infections tend to rear their ugly head at the most inconvenient times (like when you plan to be out of town for a week – chickens have great timing like that) and having an emergency kit on hand will make a stressful situation easier.

 

The items in this article are just a suggestion – you can add or subtract or include your own items as you find what works for your particular backyard chicken flock.

 

There’s also links where you can buy these items directly from Amazon, so you have them on hand.

What should you add in the chicken emergency kit?

 

The first thing you may want to purchase is a plastic container that also has a cover, like this one. You will want to clearly mark it (write “Chicken Emergency Kit” on it with a marker, for example) so you can easily locate it, and your family doesn’t raid it for supplies for other projects.

Once you have the plastic container ready, you will have to think about the items to include.

Here’s some that are easy to source and can save your butt (and possibly your hen’s life):

 

Nutri drench

Click here to get it on Amazon

This is powdered electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals that you mix with water. You can offer it to your chicken when they’re hurt to keep them hydrated and healthy enough to combat their illness or trauma. If they’re stressed and in pain, they’re less likely to eat and drink. Very important!

 

Saline solution

Click here to get it on Amazon

If your chicken has dust or dirt in her eyes or an open wound, saline solution will help you flush it clean.

 

Triple antibiotic ointment or natural alternative

Click here to get antibiotic ointment on Amazon

Click here to get a natural alternative on Amazon

If your chicken get an open wound, you will need to put something on it after flushing it clean. If you use over-the-counter drugs with your flock then triple antibiotic ointment is great, or a natural alternative if you’re raising them 100% natural.

 

Blu-Kote

Click here to buy it on Amazon

Another topical antiseptic alternative. I don’t personally use it, but a lot of people like Blu-Kote because it’s blue, and deters other chickens from picking at open wounds. (However, if you use an all-natural thick salve, you will have the same effect)

 

Pure organic honey

Click here to buy it on Amazon

(Check the label that there’s ONLY honey in it – no corn syrup or other additives). Honey is great for wounds, especially if the sores are wet and gooey. It can be hard to put salve or ointments on wet wounds, and honey has natural antibacterial qualities and gets into tiny crevices to battle bacteria.

 

Poultry VetRX

Click here to buy it on Amazon

This is based on an all-natural formula that’s been around since the 19th century. It’s particularly great for colds or upper-respiratory infections, and can come in handy for eye worms, scaly legs as well. Ingredients include Canada balsam, camphor, oil origanum, oil rosemary, all blended in a corn oil base.

 

Diatomaceous Earth

Click here to buy it on Amazon

Just keep a small bag around for emergencies. It’s great for scaly leg mites, but be sure to apply it on a windy day or at least in a breezy area so neither you nor your chicken inhale it. Food-grade only!

 

Coconut oil

Click here to buy it on Amazon

If you plant to use essential oils to support a healthy hen, then you can dilute it in the oil. Also great for adding moisture to excessively dry skin.

 

Heat lamp or heating pad

Click here to buy a heat lamp on Amazon

Click here to buy a heating pad on Amazon

Even if your chicken isn’t a chick, when they’re sick, keeping them warm is a good idea, as long as the ambient temperature in the room isn’t too hot. Also be sure to give them an area to get out of the heat, if your chicken wants to.

 

Penicillin or Tylan 50

It’s best to get this through a vet or from your local feed store

If you’re using Western medicine to treat your flock then having injectible antibiotics on hand is a good idea. Check with a poultry vet for the correct dosage.

 

Probiotics

Click here to buy it on Amazon

If you have a sick or injured chicken, giving them probiotics will help ensure their body has good gut health to help them heal (it won’t heal a broken leg, for example, but it WILL ensure your chicken has good gut health to maintain SOME standard of health – a wonky gut will only make healing more difficult).

 

Some standard chicken emergency kit items also include:

 

  • Gauze pads
  • A first aid tape
  • Cotton swabs
  • Wooden popsicle sticks to act as a splint for legs or wings
  • Syringes for dosing or helping a hen stay hydrated – Click here to buy syringes on Amazon

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you have a chicken emergency kit created yet? What do you keep in yours? Leave a comment below!