Making the coop more cozy


10 Years
Apr 11, 2012
I have a few questions. Which may be silly questions. But, I do worry about my little girls.. so here goes. I hope I'm asking this in the right section.

I have 10 of the red sex link chickens. I guess they are about 6 months old. I live in TN and with this storm, it has brought around our first dusting of snow. When I go into the coop I think brrr how cold.. but I do know that I am not a chicken.
My chickens are cold to the touch and they were all huddled up on their roost together. The coop they are in is an older one, I know there are some cracks in the wooden planks where the boards have seperated. And I also have a hole chewed in the door from a squirrel that decided to make its own way into the coop this summer to eat the chicken food. Question is - How much sealing up of holes and cracks should I do? And how should I go about doing it?
I've read about the drafts & then read about them needing some ventilation. But, I'm just sort of confused on how much is too much I guess.
Should I add some straw or wood chips to the coop floor, just for some more warmth options?

Also, I have no way to keep their water heated, so what is the best way to go about keeping them with water?
I have one of those plastic water holders. Nothing fancy.
My thought was to buy another of the waterers and just keep switching them out everyday, or whenever it freezes.
That way instead of trying to thaw one out, I could just rotate, let the other thaw in the basement in a bucket or something & then swap out again.

Should I be letting them out everyday, once it gets cold & stays cold?
And also, should I change feed or anything like that for the winter months? Or I guess, should I be adding anything during the colder months, I guess thats a better question.

I'm hoping to make them up some oatmeal to test that out.
Does anyone else have any other cold winter special treats to suggest?

Sorry this post is so long & sorry if I'm too paranoid.
If there is a draft on the roost itself, you might want to hang a tarp to block off some of those holes or cracks, or stop them up with caulk or wood scraps, whatever. Ventilation is necessary, yes, but it should be at a high point in the coop so it doesn't cause a draft on the birds. The humidity and ammonia will exchange right at the high vent. There is no need for a low "intake" opening. They would probably appreciate a thicker layer of hay or whatever litter you use on the floor, to keep their feet off the cold ground. Otherwise, just have a roost that is wide enough that they can sit on their feet.

I wouldn't keep them indoors because of cold or even snow. If there is a lot of snow, they may choose to stay in, or spend more of the day in, but I'd give them the choice. They have good down coats, after all. Many chickens don't like to walk on snow, though, so northerners often cover at least a part of the run to keep an area cleared enough to appeal to them. Even far north, chickens will usually go out on cold days if there is a clear path.

Without electricity, there really isn't a way to keep water thawed that I know of. Your idea is the sort of thing people do to provide them with water in winter. Some people buy those wide black rubber stock watering pans because you can easily break the ice out of them when they are frozen solid. That way, if you have a functional winter water source handy, you can just dump the broken ice and refil. My waterers are probably the same as yours -- white plastic with a red bowl on the bottom for drinking. We don't get a lot of freezing weather here, and it almost always thaws during the day, so I usually carry a jug of hot water down there and pour it over the ice in the drinking tray on very cold mornings. This melts the ice under it, and by the time they've consumed much of this, the rest of the waterer is thawed.

There is no need to change feed in winter. Lots of people bring their girls something like a bowl of warm oatmeal, and you certainly can do this if you wish. They will be fine without, but they probably would enjoy it!
I checked the roost area while I was checking the rest of the coop & I didn't see any cracks around the roost. So I think that'll be okay. I will go and get some of the bigger/lower cracks filled up.
And I will definitely invest in some warmer flooring options for them.
Is one more preferred than the other? As in, like straw/hay or wood chips?

And I hadn't even thought about covering part of the run for them! I feel silly.
I'm sure my dad has some larger tarps, and I can somehow fashion a way to get it to stay on the run for the snowy days.

And as for the water, I guess my idea is what I'll have to do.
I have no electric or water source at their little coop.
I always carry gallon jugs down to the coop to fill up their water.
So, I guess I'll carry on with that plan.
And yes, my water containers are the same.
Plastic top with red bottom.

And also, I think I read somewhere that it was a nice idea to put golf balls in their drinking area to help prevent frost bite.. is that so?

And the oatmeal, I am really excited to try this idea. I hope they like it. They seem to be sort of picky so far. So, hopefully they dig into that.

Thank you very much for the help! It puts my mind at ease.
I am such a worrier. I don't know why. Haha.
I just use a bucket for water in the winter and use the waterer in non freezing weather. My bucket has a little more 'give' to it but my waterer is hard plastic and could crack if too much ice develops. I do have a heat lamp over my water only but bulbs do burn out when you least expect it. In a few weeks, we generally get our coldest weather of the year where it can get -10 to -15 below zero but luckily that doesn't usually last too long.
For years I carried waterers out to coops in mornings and brought them back inside every evening. Finally bought the metal base heaters to set the waterers on. We use heavy duty outdoor extension cords to the coops. Now I feel much better if I sleep in and know they have food and water in their coops and I can relax and not have to rush out there.. I have the plastic waterers and even tho the instructions say to only use metal on the heated bases I have had no problems with using the plastic ones.

As far as gaps the spray foam in a can works great. Chickens will pick at it if it is in reach tho! For round holes just use a metal lid from a food can and tack it over the hole.

I use layers of pine shavings and grass hay for my bedding. As winter approaches the bedding gets several inches deep. Seems to keep them warmer, especially when they like to stay down on floor through out the day.

My hubby is planning on building a wood frame over my dog kennel turn out pen and covering it with tin roofing. It will be sloped for runoff. With the snow load I do not think tarps would work so well as they tend to sag and pull down whatever they are attached to.

I make sure mine have a full craw every evening by offering them treats of cracked corn, sweet feed, dog food and cat food. Just a few handfuls to keep them warmer overnight.

I use a night lite in my serama barn which does have electricity. Some of the more timid ones can then eat and drink as the others are on the roost.
If you get really cold weather, the plastic wateres will freeze solid and crack. A heavy black rubber pan like they sell at farm supply stores will work, or metal waters can freeze without breaking. If you can run and extension cord out to your coop it would be better to have a heated water source. I use pine shavings on the run floor, a thick layer, for warmth and comfort. And I leave a window at least cracked open all year to supply ventilation - if you see condensation on the inside of your coop it is too tight and needs more air circulation.

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