Chickens in winter

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Cburgert, Oct 16, 2017.

  1. Cburgert

    Cburgert In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2017
    Well this is my first winter with chickens, how do I keep them from freezing to death? The chicken coop is pretty much wide open except for the back wall which is solid. And there are two thick houses in the coop where they sleep. Will this be enough shelter?
    Farmgirl217 likes this.
  2. Farmgirl217

    Farmgirl217 In the Brooder

    Oct 15, 2017
    Just like you, this is also my first year with chickens. I know freezing water can be an issue but I don't know too much about using heated waterers and where to get them?
  3. Frazzemrat1

    Frazzemrat1 Crowing

    May 8, 2017
    Eastern Connecticut
    My understanding, as this is my first winter as well, is that if you have some place that's ventilated, but not drafty, and out of the weather completely, then they will keep eachother warm. But if you introduce drafts or moisture, your gonna start loosing chickens.
    Peeps61 likes this.
  4. Peeps61

    Peeps61 Songster

    Apr 19, 2014
    NW Florida
    Chickens are tough and can withstand fairly cold temperatures. If they have a well ventilated coop, no extra heating should be necessary. If your coop is wide open, then I'd at least consider putting up a tarp or some plywood to keep them out of the wind, rain, snow or any other type of inclement weather. If they get wet, and it's cold, that's not good.

    You can order heated waterers, or even use a fish aquarium heater to keep water from freezing. Either that, or go out and provide fresh water at least twice a day. Personally, I'd go for a heated waterer as it takes less effort, especially if you have to work.
    Frazzemrat1 likes this.
  5. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

    May 11, 2010
    Most breeds of healthy, well-fed chickens do quite well in the winter. All they really need is a place out of the wind, snow and rain. However, your itty bitty bantams, Frizzles and Silkies may require a protected environment. Large comb breeds may end up with frostbite on the comb and wattles. If you do decide to fortify your coop be aware the chickens will still need ventilation and the addition of heaters or water heaters does require electricity which can be a fire hazard. I've heard a few horrific stories here about coop fires.

    I'm sure the Northern members will chime in with their experience.
    21hens-incharge likes this.
  6. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Songster

    Jul 18, 2013
    Kalispell MT
    For winter chickens need a well ventilated coop that does not allow the wind to blow on them. The coop has no insulation and I do not heat it. There should be about a square foot of vent area for every bird in the coop. I keep my vents up high, chicken roosts down low. They do great for the winter and I had no frostbite even with temperatures down to -22 F last year.

    For winter water I use a clear plastic tote, horizontal nipples, and a stock tank deicer that is okay to use in plastic. Others use the same set up but have a 5 gallon bucket. Either way works. Water is kept outside in the run to avoid adding moisture to the coop. Run is covered with a tarp. Sides of the run have clear plastic shower curtains on 3 sides. I use wood shavings, leaves, and hay in the run. The run is noticeably warmer than the outside temperatures when I go in there to feed them.

    The birds also get a bit of whole corn a day. I figure they might need the extra calories. No matter how cold it is the girls prefer being out in the run during the day. They only use the coop for laying and sleeping.
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    I have a hard time visualizing your set up. Your terms don't seem to be consistent with common terminology. The coop is the closed in structure where the chickens go to roost at night. It usually has a roof, 4 walls, one or more windows. It is also very important that the coop have plenty of ventilation, even in the winter, while allowing the birds to roost without a draft blowing across them. The nest boxes are usually inside the coop. They should be lined with soft bedding (many folks use hay or straw). The birds SHOULD NOT BE sleeping in the nest boxes. The boxes should only be used for laying eggs.

    The run is usually a wide opened structure, perhaps only chicken wire stapled to fence posts. Many folks cover their run with anything from bird netting to a solid roof to keep out predators and/or precipitation.

    Can you clarify your post regarding what your set up is like? Perhaps some pictures? How many birds, how much room in coop and on perch? How long is perch and how close to ceiling, and how far from back wall. What do you have for ventilation? What are your normal day and night temps as well as your absolute lowest winter time temps? Then, we can provide some useful information.
    21hens-incharge likes this.
  8. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

    Mar 11, 2017
    South Park, Colorado, USA
    Agreed, if you can get a picture posted there are many folks on here with experience in coop building/design as well as cold weather that will be able to help you out and see if you need any modifications for winter.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yes, Pics are best ;)
    IdyllwildAcres likes this.
  10. Cburgert

    Cburgert In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2017
    aart and lcwmt like this.

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