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!

How to Stay Warm in Winter Without Heat

How to Stay Warm in Winter Without Heat

I, for one, am not the biggest fan of electricity. In fact, I try to avoid it if possible. But with winter on its way, and the likely power outages (anyone remember Snowmageddon where most of Washington DC was out of power for a couple weeks?) you’ll want to know how to stay warm in winter without heat so if you lose power, you have a plan.

 

Being cold sucks (unless you’re one of those people who craves cold. I’m not. I want to stay warm all the time), so during power outages you will need to look for alternative ways to make sure that your house is sufficiently heated.

 

These are my genius hacks (tried and true) for how to stay warm in winter without heat, and if you’re camping or go hunting this winter, then you can adapt these tips to figure out how to stay warm in a tent, too.

 

Drinking a Warm Beverage

Tea, coffee, whatever. If you don’t have power, then brew thyself a warm beverage to stay warm in winter. The beverage will raise your body temperature, and you’ll feel it down to your toes (this is also good for animals if they’re cold, too). Just don’t burn yourself.

 

Staying Under Extra Blankets During the Day

During the super cold days (the ones where my hands are freezing), I pretty much stay under several quilts all day. Those blankets help retain the heat your body lets off and you can even practice a bit if Danish Hygge with your cozy self.

 

Wearing Fleece

Sheep don’t get cold for a reason (ok, they do but fleece is still a winter staple for cold wussies like me who need to stay warm in winter). Pants, socks, even a fleece shirt are all winning ideas.

 

I keep a couple fleece tops in my winter emergency survival kit in the car in case I find myself stranded (during Snowmageddon, there were several people who froze because their cars got stuck and they didn’t keep a winter emergency survival kit in their vehicles.

 

 

Wearing a Hat

Your mama always told you to wear a hat, and that’s because you lose most of your body heat through your head. So, be a trooper and wear a hat, preferably with fleece, so the cold has minimal spaces to get into your body.

 

Your mama taught you right. Now go call her and thank her.

 

Using a South-Facing Sun Room with Good Insulation

Southern exposures get the most sunlight during the day, so any room facing South will be warmer (also, Southern winds are warmer than northern winds, so Northern facing rooms will be colder simply because that’s how weather works).

 

Also be sure the room has good insulation so heat that gets into the room does not escape easily. There’s no use in trying to stay warm if you aren’t taking that extra step to RETAIN the warmth.

 

Using a Wood Stove (or a Rocket Stove)

While it’s not the most economical because you have to buy the stove and pipes and possibly the wood, this is probably the easiest way to stay warm in winter without power. (This is the stove we use – I HIGHLY recommend it).

 

Just be sure that the chimney leads outside so you don’t inhale smoke. Most commercial wood stoves are created to have sufficient draw, so your part is just installing it correctly so you can stay warm without accidentally hurting yourself.

 

And yes, you should use a commercial stove – don’t be that guy that builds his own and burns his house down or dies in the middle of the night because of smoke inhalation. Yes, those people do exist. Usually they’re my neighbors.

 

You can learn how to install a wood stove here.

 

 

Only Heating the Rooms You Most Frequently Use

This won’t really help you heat your house, but it’ll help you lower the cost and possibly the stress of having to figure out how to heat a bunch of rooms.

 

For example, we don’t worry too much about heating our kitchen, as long as the temperatures aren’t below 20 (if it is, then we have to worry about pipes freezing, and yes, we’ve woken up to our fair share of broken pipes).

 

The food will stay fresh and we won’t have to worry about paying to run the fridge. Pretty win/win.

 

Using a Gas Generator

A gas generator can also be an easy way to stay warm in winter during a power outage as long as you don’t mind paying for the gas and listening to the noise.  You just need to keep the generator outside the house so that the fumes produced do not hurt you.

 

(An alternative is a solar generator like this. Supposedly, this gadget can power several appliances. It ain’t cheap, but you’re worth the investment.)

 

Making Sure the Rooms Are Free Of Drafts

This is also helpful to stay warm because the drafts can allow heat to escape. You just need to take a few minutes to ensure there are no drafts.

 

Putting Heavy Blankets Over Doors and Windows

We do this every winter because it’s fast and effective. By keeping the heavy blankets over the doors and windows you will be ensuring that heat does not escape. This will also prevent more cold air from getting into the house.

 

 

Opening Curtains During the Day

When your curtains are opened during the day, the sun’s rays can get into the house. Particularly if your windows face south and there’s no drafts in the room, this will help heat the air inside your house.

 

Placing Clear Plastic Over Windows

This is one of our favorite ways to stay warm in winter, especially if the wind is really blowing. Our farmhouse is old, and the insulation is minimal. Clear plastic keeps the chill out while at the same time allowing light to get in and significantly helps to preserve heat.

 

Putting Blankets On the Ceiling and On the Floor

Especially if there isn’t much insulation on your floor, you’ll want to put blankets down to stay warm. We’ve used this method to help insulate the house, keeping it relatively toasty even when it’s close to zero outside. Just keep the blankets away from your wood stove or generator.

 

Cold but don't have power? Here's 14 genius ideas for how to stay warm in winter without heat!

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