How to Keep Chickens Warm in the Winter

Learn how to keep chickens warm in winter without electricity.  Chickens are fairly hardy animals, but if they get too cold they can freeze.  Keep your chickens happy and healthy with these tips and food to keep chickens warm in winter.





How to Keep Chickens Warm in the Winter


When we got chickens, everyone said to just open the coop door and let them decide if they want to go out.  So we did.


I took my son to an appointment and came back to find chickens all over the yard, standing on one foot like little statues.


I was afraid they were dead, but thankfully they were just cold.  They'd gotten so cold, they just stood in one spot instead of going back to the coop.


We walked around gathering chickens and put them back in the coop.  Thankfully, none of our chickens had any damage. 


Chickens can get frost bite or even die from the cold, so it's important to learn how to keep chickens warm during winter.


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What Temperature Is Too Cold For Chickens?


The ideal temperature for chickens is in the seventies (Fahrenheit). However, chickens can survive in conditions as cold as the teens. 


Once the temperature starts to drop into single digits or into the negatives is when you should be most concerned.


Learning how to keep chickens warm during winter is very important. Depending on breed and climate, the cold weather can be a difficult time of year for chickens.


How Can You Tell If a Chicken Is Cold?


There are a few ways in which chickens will show that they are cold. For instance, perching or standing on one leg is a common sign that your chickens are too cold. 


General inactive amongst your chickens, as well as decrease in appetite, are also signs that your chickens are getting to be too cold.


Additionally, a pale comb or pale wattles are both good indicators that you have cold chickens. These signs on their own are not warranting an emergency. 


Rather, you should keep a closer eye on your chickens and ensure that the temperature inside their coop is warm enough for them.  





Should I Let My Chickens Out In The Snow?


There is not any real reason that you should not let your chickens wander in the snow. However, when the temperatures are too cold your chickens simply may not want to go outside or in the snow.  


You can make the outside more comfortable for them by spreading hay or straw around the area surrounding their coop. However, sometimes they just want to be inside and warm. 


If this is the case, make sure you adjust their diet so that they are not missing essential nutrients they would typically get from grazing outside.


Can Chickens Sleep Outside In The Winter?


Many might ask how to keep chickens warm at night. When you first learn how to keep chickens warm in the winter, many will say that your chickens can be out at night. 


Generally, I do not recommend letting your chickens sleep outside in the wintertime. If you can, try to round them all up and get them inside before the coop is closed for the night.


Learning how to keep chickens warm at night is important. Tired chickens might have problems getting back to their coop at night, and may seek shelter elsewhere if they can find it. 


In this case, they will be fine most of the time. However, it is also best to make sure they are safe and warm inside their coop.





Can Chickens Freeze To Death?


In short, yes, chickens can in fact freeze to death. The fatal temperature for a chicken will depend on the breed, as some breeds are more tolerant to the cold than are others.


I recommend researching the breed of your chickens and making sure to keep them well above the lethal temperature. However, most chickens are rather hardy and this is not something you typically have to worry about.


Do Chickens Need Heat In The Winter Time?


The answer to this question will mostly depend on your climate, which is why it is so important to learn how to keep chickens warm in the winter. Depending on your climate and the breed of your chickens, the needs of the chickens will carry.


If you live in an area with a mild winter climate, then you might not need to heat your chicken coop. However, if the temperatures in your area fall below about twenty degrees on a regular basis, I would recommend taking measures to heat your coop.


That is not to say that you will need to use electricity to keep your coop warm. Oftentimes the best way to warm a chicken coop is to insulate it so as to not let heat out.


Can I Put A Heat Lamp In My Chicken Coop?


Yes, you can put heat lamps in your chicken coop. When people first learn how to keep chickens warm in the winter their first thought might be to use plenty of heat lamps.


Although, I don’t recommend doing so, or at least not solely relying on heat lamps for a few reasons. First, heat lamps do pose a risk of fire. Whether due to electrical problems or damage to the lamps, they can catch wood and dry things on fire.


Second, you should not solely rely on them as if the power goes out or they do fail your coop will get cold rather rapidly. However, in larger coops they can help to keep specific areas warm. 


Just be sure to take the necessary precautions when installing them to prevent any damage.





How Do I Keep My Chicken Coop Warm In The Winter?


There is no best way to keep chickens warm in the winter. However, there are many options you have to keep them warm.


There are several methods you can use to help keep your coop warm during the winter time. You can make use of the deep litter method, insulation, and making sure the construction of the coop is intact.


You will want to make sure that there are not any cracks or holes in your coop that might let out a lot of warm air. 


At the same time, however, you will want to ensure that your coop has some ventilation so there is not a lot of moisture buildup.  I recommend adding vents at the top of the coop so the draft doesn't hit your chickens directly.


As for the deep litter method, it is very similar to composting in that you want to layer browns and greens. Start with a layer of pine shavings and other organic materials. Let your chickens do their thing until it covers the first layer and then repeat.


Do this over the summer and then for wintertime you will have a natural source of heat in your coop. Plus, this method does not pose a health risk to your chickens and the smell will be naturally contained.


Tips For Insulating A Chicken Coop


Learning how to keep chickens warm in the winter might require you to learn how to insulate your coop. If you live in a particularly cold climate then insulating your keep might be a good way to keep your chicken coop warm. 


There are plenty of materials that are cheap and easy to get that you can use to insulate your coop.  Styrofoam, cardboard, towels and even blankets are all great materials that you can use to insulate your coop. Focus on areas where you feel a draft, or areas that are particularly cold.





How Do I Keep My Chickens Warm In Winter Without Electricity?


Learning how to keep chickens warm in winter without electricity might seem a bit tricky at first. For many, their initial reaction might be to install heat lamps or heaters in their coop. However, as we have already discussed this is not the best idea.


Apart from structural changes or insulating your coop, there are a few ways to help keep your chickens warm in the winter time. First, your chickens will need perches. 


Chickens sit on perches to help dry themselves off and to air out. As such, it is very important that they have somewhere they can dry themselves out at to keep warm.


Plus, your chickens will get a little bored being inside all the time. I recommend giving them some things to do, such as tying a ball to a string and hanging it inside for them to peck at.


You may also want to consider using food to keep chickens warm in winter. If you feed your chickens in the morning or afternoon, you might want to switch to feeding them right before bed.


In the winter, we switch to a scratch blend of cracked corn and other whole grains.  When your chickens eat the corn, they need to use extra energy to digest it.  This helps keep your chickens warm naturally.  


Your flock will likely need extra food in the winter, so be sure to plan ahead and keep plenty of chicken feed on hand for them.  


This will allow them to digest their food while they go to sleep which is a great way to keep them warm. These tips will help you know how to keep chickens warm in winter without electricity.


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