Chickens! Outside in the Winter?!


11 Years
Jul 22, 2008
I recently got my baby chickens and I live in the city, I can't tell you how many people have asked mean you are going to keep them outside in the winter?!!

I live in Wisconsin, it does get cold. But I think hundreds of years ago, before electricity etc, people did keep chickens somewhere! It wasn't inside a nice heated garage!

My family thinks it's terrible that these chickens will be outside!

I did buy winter hardy birds, and my coop is well suited for the winter (I'm pretty sure) and they do come with a nice feathered coat!

But what do people think people did years ago?


Opa-wan Chickenobi
12 Years
May 11, 2008
Howell Michigan
Ask them if they see wild birds in the winter. Your birds are much better provided for the wild birds are so they will be just fine.
Last edited:


11 Years
Mar 31, 2008
They keep each other warm. Deep litter method is good insulation in the coop also. If it got real cold you could always run a heating light bulb out there. But your right. My Mom said when she was little her Hens were on their own and they were fine. She remembers running a light bulb out there on an extension cord maybe once when the temp dropped real low.
Last edited:


11 Years
Aug 2, 2008
South Central KY
Show your family the fluffy, downy under-feathers on your birds. It's like a down jacket. If you run your fingers under the harder feathers on top, you can get a pretty good idea just how well insulated those birds are. Wide roosts are good, too, so they can hunker down and keep their feet warm.

My birds have an insulated coop, but it's still a bit drafty, here and there. Nonetheless, it's a lot warmer inside than outside, in cold weather. I can block most of the wind and still allow for ventilation by closing or opening different little chicken doors on each end and one side. In the daytime, even if there's snow everywhere, mine run gleefully out doors when I open the coop, and run out to scratch in the snow. They even take "snow baths" just like dust in the dry weather.

At night, when I close them up, if it's really cold, like below 20F, I watch to see how they're doing. If they're warm enough, there's a bit of space between most of them. If they're all huddled tightly together, I leave on a high-wattage lamp for heat. It's a clamp-type reflector lamp, so I can aim it at the floor below the roosts, and the heat can rise up to the birds. Just a few degrees can make a lot of difference for them.

I have a electric submersible thingy I got at Tractor Supply Co. to keep in the water bucket so it doesn't freeze. I use one of those flexible black water/feed tubs they sell for horses. It's wide enough that if a hen falls into it they can get out again, they can't get stuck if they fall in head-first, like they could in a taller, narrower bucket.


Overrun With Guineas
11 Years
Feb 29, 2008
Barton City, MI
They,like most people seem to now, assumed that chickens come from the store wrapped in plastic

(edited for grammar.)
Last edited:


12 Years
Sep 23, 2007
I worried about this all last winter (our first with chickens). We don't have any electric run out to the henhouse for a heat lamp or anything to actually keep water thawed. They did fine. We watered with warm water from the house in one of the black rubber dog dishes several times a day and inside the henhouse it stayed thawed for a few hours anyway. We also covered the windows and the egg doors with plastic sheeting to cut the drafts, put lots of shavings on the floor, and built them a little "cave" out of hay bales that they could all snuggle into if they got cold. They loved that idea!

I think chickens are like horses- as long as they are fed enough good quality food they generate their own heat.


11 Years
Sep 5, 2008
Love the cave idea. I live in Vermont too and this is our first winter w/ chickens. We built a very well insulated coop but was wondering if they will roost on the floor if it gets too cold. We built the coop on rock with a concrete floor to retain heat.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom