I’ve been keeping chickens for almost 3 years now.
I love my chickens! Besides the fact that I have a cranky rooster, 2 hens that a prone to escaping and one that I’m pretty sure has not laid ONE egg….ever.
This does not stop me from doting on them and talking to them like they’re wee babies.
Yet the love for my chickens has kept me up nights worrying about whether or not they are warm enough during our sometimes harsh Canadian winters.
Here are a few things you can do in the winter to help keep your flock warm.
Raise Cold Hardy Chickens
A few examples of chickens that do better in the cold weather;
- Buff Orpington (like our Hei Hei)
- Plymouth Rock
- Rhode Island Red
- Buff Brahma
Deep Litter Method
This is the number one winter warming method that I use.
This means that instead of cleaning out your coop on a weekly basis, turn the litter and put a clean layer of your selected coop bedding on top. I use pine shavings. This allows the chickens waste to decompose and create a natural warming coop. We can talk later about what to do with this lovely decomposed poop/bedding in the spring.
Insulate Your Coop
When Anthony built our coop he was thinking ahead and added insulation during the build. I myself would never have thought if it but that’s why I love my husband.
He’s handy dandy and smart!
We used laminated exterior insulation sheet on the top of our coop where the chickens sleep. This has helped a lot with regulating the temperature in the winter but also in the summer.
Electricity in your Coop
This was one thing that I didn’t want to do. This winter I cracked. We had a solid week of super low temperatures and at one point I had the chickens in the bathroom for the better part of 24 hours. We ended up running electricity to the coop and buying a heat lamp for our chilly chickens. The reason I hesitated with this decision was that I’ve heard horrible tales of coop fires and lost flocks. But for every one of those stories, I’ve also heard wonderful things about happy and warm chickens.
If you are going to run electricity to your coop make sure you have an electrician do it, just to be on the safe side.
Keep it Small
We have a very small flock, I’m sure I mentioned that. Which means our coop is quite small. If there is too much room in your coop, that can lead to drafts and make it hard for the chickens to keep warm. If there is a lot of space in the coop your may think about sectioning off a part of your coop so your chickens can snuggle. You’ll be surprised at the warmth that radiates off of your feathery friends.
Chickens need a little extra food in the winter to keep them happy, healthy and warm. I feed my chickens a layer mash all year around. In addition I save scraps from the kitchen and they are also left to free range through the day. In the winter when free ranging is harder I like to feed them some cracked corn later in the day. It gets their little digestive system working which warms their bodies just in time for bed.
There you have it, keeping chickens warm during the winter can be done!