5 Years
Sep 20, 2014
Good morning! I'm new to this site and am trying to navigate and learn about chickens at the same time. I'm new to having chickens and so far, I LOVE it....love my girls (no rooster here!) and all their eggs. I have 10....rhode island reds, wyandottes, delknap amber links and auracanas....would love a silkie and frizzle...

I have a coop in the backyard, they run around my yard almost all day and really like being handled. I can't get over how they come running when I stand in the yard and call "G-I-R-L-I-E-S !!!!!" Their eggs are beautiful and delish. I am scouring this site for advice on heating the coop for the winter....I live in New Hampshire and it's only 43 degrees as I write this....and this is my first winter with chickens....any advice?

Have a great day,
Glad you joined us!

Chickens are usually quite cold hardy, and don't require heat in most temperatures. Important things to do when winterizing a coop are:

  • Put a thick layer of bedding on the coop's floor. Bedding provides insulation (which keeps the coop warmer), plus it absorbs moisture and lessens odor.
  • Make sure there is plenty of good, draft-free ventilation. Good ventilation helps prevent the build-up of moisture (which is what causes frostbite).
  • If you feel any drafts, seal them up. Chickens are good at keeping themselves warm even in negative degree temperatures as long as they don't have a cold wind blowing on them. Drafts will suck away at their body heat, leading to some miserable or dead chickens.

Good luck with your flock!
Welcome to BYC!
We're glad to have you.

Bantamlover21 ha given you some good advice.

Good luck with your flock!
Hello there and welcome to BYC!

Sounds like you are really enjoying your birds! They are so much fun to keep. Once you start a flock of chickens, you wonder why you didn't get them sooner!

BantamLover X2 Chickens can adapt to the coldest of temps if given the opportunity. Rarely if ever do they need heating in the coop. Chickens come with built in furnaces and all those feathers and can withstand brutally cold temps. There are many members here for Alaska that see Minus 40 on a regular basis and keep their birds in uninsulated coops, no heat, and even no electricity. And they do just fine.

The most important factor in keeping your birds warm in the winter is good ventilation. You want to keep your birds roosting low to the floor in quiet air and 1 square foot of vent space per bird in the eaves of your roof. While your chickens are sleeping, there is a lot of moisture building up from all the pooping and the breathing. This warm moist air needs to go somewhere. With good venting, it will rise up and catch this positive air flow and go out the roof. With out good venting, this moist air is going to fall back down on them as water or frost causing the birds to be wet, chill and get frost bite. Keep your bedding clean and dry, remove all water at roosting time so you are not adding to the moisture in the coop. Dry drier driest. The birds themselves omit heat. So as they all snuggle up together, there is a nice bubble of heat surrounding them. Just make sure to seal all cracks around the root bar to stop all drafts.

Never close off all venting even on the coldest of nights. If it is going to be a very windy night during the winter, you might close off a few of them to slow down the movement of air. But you still need this moist air to be whisked out of the coop.

Chickens need to get outside everyday in the winter. If your coop temp is too much warmer than the outside air, they will be stuck in the coop all winter. This will lead to all kinds of sickness and respiratory ailments.

If however, it is planning on getting down to 30 or 40 degrees lower than your AVERAGE over night low, then you can add a small heat lamp. So if your average over night low is 10 and it is planning on getting down to Minus 30, you might consider a heat lamp until the temps return back to normal over night lows. You are not trying to heat the coop, only add heat around the birds, bringing up the temp a few degrees. ALWAYS permenantly attach a heat lamp. Do not rely on the clamp as they can fall and cause a fire.

You can also tack an old towel to your roost bar in early winter. Chickens lose heat through the feet. So warm feet mean warmer birds.

So just let them adjust to your temps as fall turns to winter. Your birds will do just fine if you don't try to keep them indoors too much. Let them decide when they want to come back to the coop and they will appreciate it if you shovel paths in the snow so they can get out for some exercise on those snowy days.

Enjoy this new adventure you are on and welcome to our flock!
Welcome to BYC. Glad you decided to join our flock. You don't need a rooster unless you need fertilized eggs for hatching. I currently have 25 hens and no roosters, and I get loads of eggs without all the aggression, fights, non-productive mouths to feed, crowing in the middle of the night, and over-breeding and battering of the hens that typically goes alonq with having roosters. My girls are stress free and enjoying life without a rooster around. As TwoCrows has indicated in her post, you don't really need to heat your coop either. Moisture is a greater danger to your birds than cold. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Good luck with your flock.
Probably the best winterizing information will come from others living in your state, go to "where am I, where are you," in the social forum - locate your state thread and post your questions there. They can also tell you what breeds, seem to tolerate your climate the best.
Welcome to BYC!

You will find a lot of good information here. Keep on asking questions and you will get many good answers.

You may also want to read the FAQ below.

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