Raising Chickens in the North


10 Years
Jun 15, 2009

I live in a particularily cold area of Canada where our overall yearly average temperature is only 40F. Winter cold spells can sometimes reach -40F for many consecutive days. Summer highs rarely exceed about 80F.

Has anybody successfully raised chickens in such a climate? I am confident that I can build a coop that will keep them out of the elements (heated/insulated of course), but I am worried about their egg production and overall health during the times that it is too cold to leave their coop. I read somewhere that they need 12-14 hours of sunlight to be healthy, during our winter solstice we get only 7.5 hours of total sunlight!

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

There are some breeds that are quite hardy and would do fine in a cold climate such as yours. I'm thinking Australorps and Orpingtons would be good in that climate.

My advice would be to take a look at ducks. They tolerate the cold much better than chickens, and some duck breeds (Khaki Campbells, Welsh Harlequins, and Runners) outlay chickens. Last winter, on -20 days when my chickens wouldn't leave their coop, my ducks were out swimming in their water dish.
Hey Kell I am further north of you in BC and lots of people here raise chickens. Don't know how they do for eggs in the winter but you could always use artifical lighting.
Hi kellenwestman ,
I live in North Pole, Alaska and I haven't had any cold weather issues. I had banties last winter and Orpingtons. Got eggs all winter but I did have a small light bulb on a timer so they got their 14 hours per day. I use a heater under the waterer and I had a heat lamp (Both things were plugged into a "Thermocube" so they only came on when it got to 35 degrees F above zero.
This year I am raising mostly Orpingtons because they are a good winter bird.
My coop is well insulated and will hopefully have enough birds in it this year to keep it warm without a heater.
I covered the run so it stayed dry all winter and put a bale of straw in it so they could go out and scratch. They do spend a lot of time inside so I am adding a "Bath tub" inside the coop this winter with left over soil from my summer plants. One trick I learned was to freeze balls of cooked rice and feed them to the chickens to give them something to do during the long winter days.
Good luck!
Actually Canada has there own breed breed just for those conditions. It is the Chantecler. It comes in white and partridge color and is very rare. Any breed with a rose or pea comb would work though. Some that do are Wyandottes, rose comb rhode island reds, Brahmas, Americanas(ee), hamburgs and dominiques.

Im in Alaska too, near hollyandty, and i had chickens, turkeys ducks and geese through the winter, actually without heat. (heater broke)

As long as I provided water twice a day and food at all times, with a little scratch. They did great.

I made sure they were forgaing for their food to keep them moving and give them something to think about and provided greens from the supermarket.

We only lost one chicken, you have to be careful with a heated barn with respiatory dieseases and of course the ammonia small from dirty litter.

I used the deep litter method and actually prefered it when the heat was off, as it seemed to keep the dust down and the smell down. ( I have a bad feather dust allergy)

My breeds are Australorp, red sex link, brahmas, cochins, amearuncanas, arunanas (spelling on those two), wyandotte.

I had eggs all year and only kept light on from 7.00am - 6pm, I had eggs all year. Even through the -50 deg part of winter!

this year i think we will just make sure the barn is insulated, but with better ventilation. No heat...chickens have a great survival instinct...

No worries, you will be fine....
from MN!

I have a small backyard flock of 4 BOs. They have an 6x8 coop with nice big windows. Yes, there were lots of days over the long winter that they didn't want to go outside into the snow. Their coop is fully insulated with 24/7 heat via a ceramic heat emitter (it averaged about 10F inside the coop over the winter) and a heated water dish. No frostbite issues. I did not provide additional light, but they layed all winter. Don't know if that's typical, but it worked for me. Our days are longer than 7.5 hours, though, and their windows face east and south. Plan on giving them more coop space than average (which is 4 sqft per bird) so that they don't get cramped over the winter when they can't go outside. My birds have 12 sqft.

Feel free to PM me any time if I can be of help. I am so appreciative to all those who helped me when I was a newbie!

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