Am I Winter Ready? Getting Chickens Through Winter...


7 Years
Oct 4, 2012
One house: I have 14 chickens in a 6x8 foot plyboard house. The back wall and roof are aluminum siding. 1/3 of the floor is chicken wire to allow droppings to fall through. The backside of the house is about 18 inches off the ground. There is a 6-inch round hole in one of the walls near the roof (it was just already cut in the plyboard which was salvaged). The chickens in this house are: 1 sexlink rooster, 6 rhode island red hens, 2 americauna hens, 1 easter egg hen, 1 unknown black hen, 1 white bantum rooster, 2 white bantum hens.

Second house: I have 1 white bantum rooster and 1 california bantum hen in a 4x3 foot plyboard condo :). They are both young, but not babies. The condo sits one foot off the ground, the crawl-space is closed on 3 sides. There is a 1x2 foot hole in the floor of the house, covered with chicken wire, for droppings. The only ventilation is from the uncovered side of the crawlspace and through the hole in the floor.

How do I know the houses are well ventilated, but free of drafts??? How cold is too cold in the houses? I'm particularly worried about the two young ones in the condo.
Whereabouts are you? How cold is it likely to get? Down here in Texas, there are only a few days when their water freezes, but up north, that could be every day for a month! So it can vary a lot depending on your local weather, how your birds will do. You may or may not need a water heater. Hanging an outside thermometer in one of the houses would be a good idea too.
:frow Welcome to the forum! :frow Glad you joined us! :frow

I don't know where you are or what yout winters will be like. That makes a whole lot of difference.

You might try reading these articles. They may help you out a bunch.

Pat’s Big Ol' Ventilation Page

Pat’s Cold Coop (winter design) page:

It's hard to say much without knowing what your winters are going to be like. I'm not too worried about what your average conditions are but more of the extremes. How cold might it get, how much snow are you likely to see.

You get good ventilation and keep them out of drafts by having openings above their heads when they sleep. It's hard to have too much ventilation. The danger is from too little.

What you have may work fine if your winters are not too harsh but I'd really like more ventilation up higher and maybe less below them. Chickens wear a down coat year round. If they are allowed to get used to cold weather without people providing heat they can handle really cold temperatures. Chickens generally have a lot more problems with heat than cold. There is a thread on this forum where people keep chickens in Alaska without heat, but those coops have no drafts down low and real good ventilation up high. Yours would not work with that wire at the bottom.

I don't know if it helps you any with this, but here is a photo taken when the temperature was 4 degrees above zero Fahrenheit. I left my pop door open and let the chickens decide what they wanted to do. The wind was dead calm. They do not like a cold wind. But they elected to enjoy the outdoors at 4 degrees.

Thanks so much. Can't believe I didn't mention the weather here...
I live in Southwestern Virginia. Not too much snow, but can get down in the teens here.

So, what I'm gathering is...close up around the bottom of the houses, and add ventilation window at the roof level.

I hesitated closing the bottom up due to the ammonia/poop smell. Should top vents handle this?
Welcome from northern Virginia! Remove drafts below their heads and make sure there's plenty of ventilation at roof level. I do deep litter in the coop and I swear it adds a degree or two of warmth. My girls have a small coop so maybe that's why I see a difference. Make sure they have a wide roost - at least 2 inches - so they can hunker down and cover their feet with their feathers to keep them warm.

They do much better in the cold than in the extreme heat and should be just fine!

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