Long time stalker, first time poster


6 Years
Sep 28, 2014
Des Moines, IA
Hi there!

So, about a year ago I started scoping out what the laws were in my city regarding keeping chickens - interestingly enough they're pretty lenient other than how many you can have and how many feet they need to be from your neighbors houses.
So yay! This started me down the path of "How?"

Looked at a couple websites for into but really this one seems to have the most friendly and helpful people :) And really interesting articles regarding coops, and breeds.

One of my major concerns is winters - we're in Iowa and they can be pretty nasty. But in reading some of the forum posts here I found that there are people living in Canada/Alaska who have chickens so it can be done.
So, I've been researching what types of breeds work well in our climate - love Easter Eggers in that there is such a variety of colors (not to mention their colorful eggs), and I think Orpintons are really pretty too.

So - no chickees yet. Hoping by spring we'll have the coop built and babies ordered.
My husband and kids are on board and my excitement is spreading :)

In the mean time, I'll have plenty to read up on here on this website.

drumstick diva

Still crazy after all these years.
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Aug 26, 2009
Out to pasture
You may want to start by going to "where am I, where are you," in the social forum. You can locate and post on your state thread. Maybe you will find other chicken folk within shouting distance. At any rate people in your area can give you the best advice about breeds that can tolerate your climate. They would also know who breeds what, and where the best feed stores, etc. are. BTW welcome to Backyard chickens, glad you joined the flock.

Michael OShay

5 Years
May 14, 2014
Welcome to BYC. Glad you decided to join our flock. Iowa is a great state in which to raise chickens. There are a large number of chicken hatcheries in Iowa (probably more than in any other state) including Murray McMurray (one of the giants in the industry), Hoover Hatchery, Welp Hatchery, Sand Hill Preservation Center, Countyline Hatchery, and Sun Ray Hatchery. Very cold hardy breeds include Australorps, Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, Buckeyes, Delawares, Rhode Island Reds, Cochins, Dominiques, Wyandottes, Langshans, Chanteclers, Jersey Giants, and Brahmas. If egg production is a major consideration, Australorps are the best layers on this list and Cochins are the poorest. If calm and gentle temperaments are a major consideration, my children made lap pets out of our Australorps, Orpingtons, Cochins, and Brahmas. There are also some very cold hardy hybrids; Black Sex Links, Red Sex Links, and Easter Eggers. The sex links are egg laying machines, regularly churning out over 300 eggs per year. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Whatever breeds you end up getting, good luck with your flock.


Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Mar 21, 2011
New Mexico, USA
My Coop
My Coop
Hello there and welcome to BYC!

You have come to the right place! Chickens can survive some brutally cold temps as long as you care for them properly.

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.

Here is a nice thread on winterizing tips as well...https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/822765/winter-is-coming-checklists-tips-advice-for-a-newbie

And a nice article on keeping chickens in the winter....https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/winter-chicken-keeping

Have you stopped by our learning center yet? Lots of good articles on getting started, building the coop, raising the chicks and caring for your adult flock....https://www.backyardchickens.com/atype/1/Learning_Center

Good luck on this new journey and welcome to our flock!


Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Feb 18, 2011


5 Years
Jun 8, 2014
Long Island, NY
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.


6 Years
Sep 28, 2014
Des Moines, IA
Thank you! So much stuff to learn :) I appreciate all the words of wisdom. Want to make sure I do this right and make sure they have the best home possible.


Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
May 3, 2009
New Jersey
Welcome to BYC. Great post by Twocrows. EE are fun birds with their varied colors and looks. Egg production may not be consistent as they are crossbreds, but a couple in the flock for color and colored eggs is a good idea. Their smaller combs would withstand your winters well. Another very cold hardy breed that you might want to research is the Buckeye. Good luck in establishing your flock.

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