Keeping my new hens warm this winter Boise, Idaho


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jul 15, 2009
Boise, Idaho
Hi All,

I've been reading a lot of posts and I decided to ask for specific recommendations on winter coop prep for my 3 hens. I've attached a pic of my coop. It is approx. 5x8 with two sides corrugated metal and two sides OSB, no insulation, 3-4 inches wood chips on the raised wood floor, and 4 windows with hardware cloth. I've already closed the windows and we close the door at night. The upper windows do close but do not seal (thought it might be good for a bit of ventillation)

This being my first eperience with chickens, we have already had to rehome our rooster, leaving us with two hens. The three of them, now down to two, had never roosted, but rather snuggled up in one corner of the coop. We recently acquired a new pullet, who is only 15 weeks old and the other two hens have not accepted her yet. The little one does use the roost, all by her lonely little self.

So I have two concerens. 1) Do I need to do anything to my coop in general to keep all three birds warm this winter? and 2) Is my loner pullet going to be able to keep herself warm enough all by herself on the roost?

I live in Boise, Idaho and winter lows can dip to minus 10 (rarely anymore), with average winter lows in the 20's and occaisionally the 10's.

Oh, and my girls are 1 Australorp, 1 Golden Laced Wyandotte, and my pullet is an Easter Egger.




11 Years
Apr 16, 2008
Southern Iowa
I've been to Idaho several times, and the weather is about like mine in Iowa. You should consider putting a THICK layer of straw or other material on the floor. I'm talking 6 or 8 inches at least. You can train those girls that sit on the floor to roost just by picking them up every night after dark and putting them up there. My coop is entirely wood, with great big windows that we cover in winter with the actual glass window. In summer they're hardware cloth. The opening into the yard is very small, only big enough for a bird to walk through. Looks to me like you need to cover that big opening to the run. We also cover our whole coop with clear plastic, except for the door, the little door and the roof (which has a vent.) We secure the plastic all over the coop by stapling it down in lots of places so the wind can't get under it and tear it up. You can buy big rolls at someplace like home depot. Usually my birds make it through even the coldest weather with no ill affects except a little frost bite on the comb, which you can help prevent by covering with vaseline. hope all that helps!


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
A car battery will sadly not get you anywhere, heat lamp wise, unless you spend thousands of dollars on a large solar panel and associated hardware plus some other batteries to keep that one company

The biggest thing you can do to keep your chickens "warm", if by warm you mean "not getting frostbite", is to keep the coop air DRY which means well-ventilated.

If you shut up all your ventilation except accidental air leaks, you will end up with a very humid coop (chickens put off vast amounts of water vapor) and your chickens will get frostbite at really pretty mild temperatures.

If OTOH you leave appropriately-located vents open an appropriate amount (depending on weather etc) all winter, your coop will be much drier and you will discover that sensibly-chosen chicken breeds are actually quite cold tolerant, typically well down towards 0 F and often quite a lot below that. And your temperatures are not *that* cold (which surprises me, I'd always thought Boise would be colder than that, shows how much I know
) so you should not have problems provided you put energy into creating and using appropriate ventilation.

Your lone pullet may have been absorbed into the flock by wintertime; if not, you will just have to see how things shake out. She may figure out about snuggling into deep bedding in a corner of the floor; or she may be ok roosting by herself (her comb wll still be smallish which will help), or you might possibly find that you have to give her a little help in one way or another, just have to wait and see.

You might take a look at my ventilation and cold weather pages, links in .sig below, they may have some useful ideas for you.

Good luck, have fun,



11 Years
Apr 16, 2008
Southern Iowa
Yeah, Pat knows it all... check out her stuff! Just for information, we open the person-sized door on days that are cold, but not unbelievably cold. Chickens will come out into the cold by themselves, even when it's super cold and snowy! They prefer not to walk on the snow so much though.

And yes, a car battery will do nothing. We are "off the grid" and use batteries all the time, and they will not produce enough power to do anything but keep a small light on for several hours. They really don't need a heat lamp that bad anyway.


Bird of A Different Feather
11 Years
Dec 20, 2008
Boise, Idaho
Hi from Boise!!! Do i know you?
Anyway to answer your question, shavings on the floor will be enough insulation here. Youdon't need a heat lamp for the breeds you have. Pat is right actually keeping some ventilation is more important than sealing off all air. You will be surprised at the weather they will come outside and play in! We don't get enough snow to deter them. I keep my water pail inside the coop in the winter and it never freezes. If you want to come check out my set up just give a holler!

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