Caring For Chickens In The Winter

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animals 017 (Medium)

This has been our first winter as chicken owners. I have to admit, I was pretty worried about how the chickens would hold out through the cold months. I have been very surprised at how hardy these little guys are though!

When the weather started getting chilly last Fall, and the leaves were gone from the trees, we knew it was time to winterize the chicken coops. My husband, genius scavenger that he is, got a hold of the plastic wrapping off of a huge water heater box in the garbage at his work, and brought it home for our project.

Gotta love the man!

The clear plastic is about 6 mil thick. We used clear so that the sun could shine through and heat the inside of the coop. Black plastic just deflects the light and doesn’t do a good job of keeping the chickens warm. We also put lots of straw in there with them. The bottom of the coop is wire, so air can still circulate well enough. This setup has worked well for us.

One night we didn’t get the chickens up before nightfall. If we don’t catch them in time, they will roost high up in the trees. I was worried about them ’cause the weather was gonna be below freezing that night. I envisioned finding stiff chickens frozen to the tree limbs. The next morning I went outside to see how they’d done, and was really surprised to find them happily pecking around on the ground. They were fine!

Kinda reminds me that God created these animals to be able to survive without people pampering them all the time!

So, having chickens through the winter hasn’t really been a big deal. I still let them out to play during the daylight hours, and they don’t seem to mind the snow at all. The only thing you have to worry about is keeping their water from freezing. Everything else is business as usual!

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12 thoughts on “Caring For Chickens In The Winter”

  1. I agree with Alana…the down to earth blog has great ideas! Our chicken’s egg production decreases in the winter, too. We have a light on for them during the day since they don’t like to go out in the snow. They’re such a bunch of chickens. 😉

  2. Kendra,
    Sorry I’m so late on commenting. I just wanted to tell you about a blog I like to read: http://down—to—
    It’s from Australia but it has good advice on homesteading. A couple days ago, she had a series on raising chickens that you might like to read.
    I so enjoy reading your blog–esp. the antics of the pig and puppy.

  3. We have both ducks and chickens, and I was concerned because our chickens lost a TON of feathers and were going to weather the winter ‘bare-bottomed’… but they’re just fine.

    We have a shed (8×8 wooden off Craigslist) with a door/ramp on the side cut for them, and apple crates as nesting boxes (with straw in them). We do leave the light on in there all of the time for warmth, but they do fine. The ducks stay outside, the chickens stay within.

    Not sure why you’re getting so few eggs, though. Breed, maybe? We average 2 ducks and 3 chicken eggs a day, and it’s February in Michigan. Yes, they pitter off in November/December when it’s so dark for so long, but we still get at least two eggs a day during that time.

  4. I remember when we first got chickens we about went broke trying to keep the coop above freezing. We had heat lamps going day and night. Now we have a larger coop and lots more birds. Their bodies alone will keep the coop above freezing and they roost in the rafters where it is warmer. We have a heated waterer and with the ducks, they go through lots of water. Our temps get really low, but this year none of the chickens have lost any of their comb. We read up lots on this before getting them and the trick it to get a good thick (at least 6″) layer of bedding down. We used dried leaves and add straw about once a month. The composting of the inner layers of bedding actually produce heat. The birds love it when I come in and spread the straw. They spend the whole day scratching around and snuggled up. If it wasn’t so expensive, I’d probably add some every day. Through our sale of eggs we don’t have to pay for their feed anymore. We charge $2 / doz. and have regular customers now. The duck eggs are great large porcelain colored eggs and are not as “runny” as chicken eggs which makes them great for baking. I used 2 duck eggs in my wheat bread last weekend and it came out great! I have heard that the whites make wonderful marangue.. though we don’t eat that so haven’t tried it. My husband does not eat any sugar in anything. Do you sell your eggs? I’m so excited to see your email everyday. Someone I can really relate to even though we are in different parts of the country. I wish I had lots more time to blog.

    God Bless,
    Mrs. D

    • Mrs. D,

      Great advice! We’d love to get some ducks in the future to go on our ponds. Still have to figure out how to keep the foxes from getting them though. My dad got several ducks a few years back, but within a week they were all gone. No, we don’t sell our eggs as we don’t get many yet. I’m dying to hatch chicks and increase our flock size so that we do have an abundance of eggs. I’d love to have a way of making money to buy the feed. We’ll get there eventually 🙂 So glad you enjoy my posts!! I love hearing your comments as well. It’s good to get feedback from people who are more experienced!

  5. Chickens are such easy animals to care for. Another reason I love them so! I’ve also learned that if you keep the coop door open, when it’s their ‘bedtime’, they’ll walk into the coop and get on their roosts without you having to go get them and put them in the coop.

    You would think that the cold weather would hinder egg production, but certain breeds are still good winter layers IF THEY HAVE SUNLIGHT. This is key to good winter layers. So the clear plastic serves to allow them to lay longer. (Exception: if they are molting).

  6. Look how warm and cozy they look! Chickens really are amazingly tough! I got so tired of fighting frozen water that I finally broke down and bought a heater poultry waterer last winter. It’s a bit of a pain to work with, but it’s worth it!

  7. I am so happy to read this post. We are preparing to get our first chickens here in a couple weeks. We are planning the coop and my biggest fear is next Winter. I have been so worried they will freeze without a heat lamp and lots of insulation. This post makes me feel SO MUCH better!

    Do you use a heat lamp at all? Or just the extra straw in the coop.


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