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!

7 Sneaky Hacks To Install An Automatic Chicken Coop Door

7 Sneaky Hacks To Install An Automatic Chicken Coop Door

Installing an automatic chicken coop door is easy, but it’s not always super straightforward.

Here’s 7 sneaky hacks to install an automatic door for your chicken coop that the pros don’t always tell you  (and I learned the hard way).

First, in the video below, we show you how to install the automatic chicken coop door from out of the package to fully installed.

There’s lots of options for automatic chicken coop doors. (This article contains affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.)

If you want to buy the coop door we use, here’s where to get it. The company is a small business, and they’re great folks. They answered all of our questions, and the coop door is great quality.

Here’s 7 hacks you should keep in mind to make the installation process simpler and less stressful for you and your chickens!

DIY automatic chicken coop door

Check the installation area is the right size for your automatic chicken coop door.

It seems simple enough, but don’t make the mistake of eyeballing the size of the automatic coop door.  We didn’t do this and had to slightly widen the installation space. Luckily, this was easy and not dramatic.

You might need different hardware than the automatic chicken coop door company provides. This is normal.

We found with our coop, the screws provided by manufacturer weren’t long enough for our coop (not manufacturer error, just the way our coop is made). So, we had to substitute, and the installation went smoothly.

Double check the door is flush with the sides and floor.

We didn’t experience any issues with this, but it’s still worth checking all the same (see tip #7). Holes or gaps let in cold air and moisture, rats, and possibly predators.

If your coop door requires an AC outlet, use a solar powered or battery powered generator for off grid coops

Off grid generators that don’t use gas and that are quiet are ideal. This is the solar powered generator we use (it can also be charged from an AC outlet in our home).

Put the generator inside a box or place it high so the chickens leave it alone. (A box is the best solution to extend the life of the generator and keep it dust-free).

Use a drill to create holes to open an area for the door

This made life easier and installation much faster. If you need to power your tools with an AC plug, the solar generator can help with that too.

Leave animals out of the coop during installation so the noise doesn’t bother them.

The rooster in particular was bothered by the loud noise of the jigsaw. Let your chicken flock run around outside while you install their new door.

Buy an automatic door with interior and exterior frames.

This will provide insulation for your flock so cold and drafts won’t blow through during winter. The frames also make it harder for predators to get through the door and kill your flock.

The one we installed in the video above comes with frames:

DIY automatic chicken coop door

Don’t worry if your chickens don’t understand the automatic coop door at first.

They’re smart and will figure it out eventually.

Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Ideas

Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Ideas

For now at least, the sun is owned by everyone and no one, so why not use it’s power to become a little more independent?

 

Going solar is a worthy homesteading goal, and a simple one to begin.

 

We aren’t completely off grid yet, but we do hope to go solar soon as we become more involved with our homesteading activities.

 

Of course, we’ll create our own solar generators, furnaces, ovens, and hot water heaters as much as we can (although we’re okay calling in experts if we have to!)

 

I’ve scoured the internet, and found some simple solutions to going solar.

 

Here’s 4 projects you can start today to make homesteading a little more self-sufficient!

1. Make Your Own Solar Powered Generator*

While I’m no electrician, these directions for a simple DIY solar powered generator look easy enough.

 

For this project, you’ll need:

  • Solar Panel (recommended: 40wp, 17.2v)
  • Charge Controller
  • Deep Cycle Battery
  • Inverter
  • Wires
  • Wire Connectors

 

You can produce 150 W of electricity, not enough to support electricity-guzzling appliances, but it’s more than enough to power a 60 W light blub for 6 hours or an energy saving light bulb for 25 hours.

 

In a grid-down situation, you’ll be able to power your laptop for 5 to 8 hours. Not too shabby!

 

*I’m not an electrician, and I haven’t put together this DIY solar panel together myself. These statements aren’t intended to take the place of a certified electrician. If you attempt this project, you do so at your own risk.

 

2. Build a Solar Powered Heater Out of Aluminum Cans

 

Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Projects You Can Do In A Weekend! Here's how to do it, what you'll need, and exactly what to buy! From FrugalChicken

Photo from FairCompanies.com

Seriously, I’ve already started collecting aluminum cans for this one since it seems so simple even I can do it.

 

Last year, the horse barn was FREEZING in the winter, and I’ve vowed that this winter, it will be at least 40 degrees inside.

 

 

I’m just not sure I want to do homesteading activities, like milking a goat, in 14 degree weather.

 

I’m sure you understand.

 

The nice thing about building your own solar powered heater? You’re reusing something that’s otherwise going to a landfill.

 

For this project you’ll need:

  • 240 aluminum cans
  • (3) 2x4x8 studs
  • 4 ft. x 8 ft. x 1/2 in. sheet of plywood
  • High temperature silicone
  • 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheet of Plexiglas or Lexan
  • A can of heat-resistant flat black spray paint
  • Plastic tubing
  • Drill Press with wide drill bits
  • Screws
  • Optional Air Blower (consider a solar-powered unit)

 

Even though the air blower is optional, I recommend it because from my research, it will heat your space faster and more effectively.

 

Here’s how to construct it:

3. DIY Solar Oven

Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Projects You Can Do In A Weekend! Here's how to do it, what you'll need, and exactly what to buy! From FrugalChicken

There’s many different ways to build a solar oven, and I’m sure you’ve seen one using a pizza box.

 

That one is a little too simple to be effective when homesteading, and I’m not sure it will get hot enough to actually cook anything substantial.

 

Here’s one that will get hot enough so in a grid-down situation, you can still have a hot meal, but that isn’t overly complicated to construct. And you can get everything for this homesteading activity from the dollar store!

 

Make it this weekend!

 

For this project you’ll need:

Two cardboard boxes (one at least 15 inch x 15 inch, the other slightly smaller)

Piece of cardboard at least 2 to 3 inches larger than the largest box

Roll of aluminum foil

Flat-black spray paint (you can also use black construction paper if you’re worried about chemicals)

An oven bag

Thermometer

 

Here’s how you make a simple DIY solar oven!

If you just want to buy one (and that’s okay!) here’s a great option:

4. DIY Water Heater

 

Go Solar With These 4 Simple Homesteading Projects You Can Do In A Weekend! Here's how to do it, what you'll need, and exactly what to buy! From FrugalChicken

Photo from BuildItSolar.com

I love this project because the concept is simple: Water heats up from the sun, and the hot water rises, and becomes available to you. You’ll always have hot water, as long as the sun is out.

 

Our house is currently heated by propane, but I would love it if we could at least heat our water using solar energy!

 

Building a solar water heater looks like it might be a little bit of a project, especially if you’re like me and not super handy, but it’s pretty simple.

 

For this project you’ll need:

  • Aluminum sheeting
  • 2x4x8 studs
  • Plywood
  • Copper tubing
  • SunTuf polycarbonate (can buy at your local big box store)
  • Epoxy
  • Black high-temperature BBQ paint

 

Here’s how you can build your own solar powered water heater!

 

Going off grid doesn’t have to be hard or expensive!

 

Try one of these simple homesteading projects and take another step towards independence by going solar!

 

 

Getting excited about all the buzz about solar power? Here's 4 diy solar projects you can complete this weekend - you probably have most of these materials laying around!

 

Why Homestead: An Insider’s Look

Why Homestead: An Insider’s Look

 

Why homestead. This is the eternal question every homesteader must answer.

Why do we do it? Why reinvent the wheel of sorts, why put out the effort?

If you ask different homesteaders, “Why Homestead?” their answers are as varied as they are thematic. Usually, it’s something to do with getting back to a simpler life, reducing a carbon foot print, etc.

For me, the moment came when we suddenly were charged more for hay when a seller learned we moved here from an affluent part of the country and have horses.

In the horse world, people are decidedly more consumers than producers. Therefore, it must stand, we can afford to pay higher prices. That incident was the fundamental shift in my thinking. In short, I started homesteading because I was tired of getting ripped off.

The answer to “Why Homestead” became clear. I wanted to become more of a producer, and less of a consumer.

It hurts now to go to the grocery for meat because now I know sausage is usually the tougher parts of the pig and also the scraps left from the other cuts. Yet it still sells for $4/pound.

I can’t stand the cost of beef. We are on our way to producing our own pork. That’s some solace. We are further away from producing beef, mostly because of the cost.

I am working on the aquaponic system, which is slowly coming together. (Planning for 3 different types of fish and fresh water prawns eventually).

One thing I wasn’t prepared for, aside from the slow pace of things, was the financial side, which absolutely effects pace. I was prepared to build everything in a month, but that was just unrealistic. I also wasn’t prepared for the immense learning curve.

Things like plumbing to build my methane digester (I’m all about this methane digester, manure management is pretty much my life, and a part of homesteading I don’t see frequently addressed) and the aquaponic system.

Guess how much I knew about plumbing? It’s only slightly better now. 😉

The second reason I ventured into homesteading is after moving to rural America, after years of suburban/urban life, we couldn’t find any gourmet type food. Cheese especially. Our choices are cheap cheddars, or Swiss, made from who knows what additives. I’ve been dying for goats and sheep to start our own artisan cheeses.

Pretty much the only food you can get around here is super fried. And forget any Indian cuisine! (One of our staple cuisines. My husband had never even tried it before he met me, and neither had anyone in his family).

We decided to start our own chickens for meat, and not just eggs, when I read the USDA will allow chicken from China to be sold in the US. Now that I’ve studied butchering and taken apart whole chickens (we are still building our flock), I’m looking forward to harvesting from our own well-treated and well-cared for flock.

In addition to culling our excess roosters, we will add Cornish Crosses to our flock. While there might be more ethical or sustainable choices than that breed, I feel I will have an easier time emotionally butchering them since, if you let them live to long, it negatively effects the quality of their lives.

The two pigs we have here are for breeding, but their babies will be for butchering, or if they don’t breed, then they will be butchered, but it will be hard to do it.

I also like the whole idea of a closed-loop system, from everything from cooking to manure management. I like that after we fry chicken (I do like the occasional fried food!), we make gravy from the left over oil and chicken bits in the pan to make gravy (my husband likes biscuits and gravy for breakfast), and broth from the left over chicken and bones, which we use in rice, savory pancakes, etc in place of water to add extra flavor and protein.

Nothing goes to waste. Any leftovers go to the dog or the pigs.

We will install an orchard in the spring, and I’m looking at spots in the property for perennial beds (herbs, sunchokes and daikon radishes for livestock feed).

We are working on producing our own energy. We are actively looking at wind power, which seems an easier option for us than solar power, and at natural gas. With the wind we get and the animals, both are renewable sources of energy.

Since we have forested parts of our property, we are also looking at wood heating, which is a sustainable resource for us. I don’t mind staying tied to the grid for electric for now, but anything we can do to reduce our outputs, right?

We are looking at more sustainable heating options for next winter because of the cost of propane.

So, that’s why I homestead! Why do you homestead?

Why I homestead