2 Winter questions


11 Years
Apr 20, 2008
Mid/UpState NY's Hudson Valley

We have a converted "Amish" style shed for a coop. It has a window that I'll close and two small vents on the sides that I was going to cover.. to prevent drafts.. Aside from closing the little exit door each night.. should it be insulated? It isn't now..

We live in mid state NY.. the winters can get cold but not for very long periods of time. We can have a week of sub zero.. but mostly it's in the 20's and 30's.. snow is iffy.. some winters lots.. others hardly any..

I was planning on letting them free range even in the winter.. is this a bad idea? They'll have access to their shelter at all times.. just like now..

Second question
How to keep the water from freezing? We have electricity in the coop.. Can anyone suggest a good water heater that won't burn down the coop?



11 Years
Oct 5, 2008
Hope Mills, NC
You can buy one of the dog waterers that are heated or even one for a chicken.

With the vents, you don't want to cut off all VENTALATION, but you do want to do drafts. Try to decide if they will have good ventalation even with vents closed. I would insolate if in budget.


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
Please don't cover the vents, you will need plenty of ventilation through the winter. In some ways ventilation is even more important in winter than in summer! If the vents are located low on the walls where they will blow on the chickens, though, you might have to close them off and cut new ones high on the walls to use instead.

Insulation will allow you to have more ventilation without the coop getting as cold. You do not NEED it but your life will be simpler and your chickens happier if you do install it. If you insulate, you have to make sure that the material (batts, foam, whatever) is not accessible to pecking chickens, so you'll have to cover it with something -- thin plywood, recycled panelling out of someone's 1970-era rec room, that sort of thing.

There are a couple options for waterer heaters. You can get a 3 gal one with a heating element built in to the base of it (this is what I'm using this winter, but it's new to me so I can't do a product report); or you can buy a heated base on which you set a GALVANIZED (not plastic) waterer; or if it's just a couple-few chickens you could use a heated dogbowl or bucket (the kind with the heating element embedded in the plastic) (this is what I used last winter, worked great for 3 chickens); or some people make their own heated base for a galvanized waterer or fortex tub to sit on.

Something to remember about free-ranging during winter is that this is the time of year when predators are hungriest, and may well hunt during daytime. Not only can they get your chickens outdoors, but if the coop door is open for chickens to get in, so can weasels and foxes and raccoons and and and. Not saying 'don't do it', just wanna make sure you've thought it through and are ok with the risks.

Good luck and have fun,


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