Think it's too cold for your chickens? Think again...

Oregon Blues

8 Years
Apr 14, 2011
Central Oregon
It's cold here and my poultry can get out of the wind and wet if they want to. Down to minus 10 degrees F is fairly common.

I do not supplement heat unless we get a few days of "The Polar Express". It'll get down to 40 below and the birds aren't acclimated to that, so I put one light bulb into their coop. I figure it will take the sharp edge off the cold in the coop and they can get close to it if they are chilled. I've never seen them huddling next to it.

I wouldn't bring in a bird from Florida and throw it out into a coop that was minus 10 degrees. But mine that live here are acclimated gradually to the cold and ready for winter.

Also, it appears that they have antifreeze in their feet because they are out there digging around and playing in the snow.


Sonic screwdrivers are cool!
9 Years
Sep 1, 2010
Quote:We used the home made version last year and it worked very well, an old metal cookie tin wired w/ a small light bulb in it, then set the waterer on top of that.
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Veggie Chick
Mar 22, 2010
Saratoga County, NY
I use the heated dog bowls too. As for chicks, I had two week olds last week when we got to 32 here and mama took them out on the lawn just like any other day. They were picking for bugs, etc, and it was 32 degrees outside. 2 week old chicks. They weren't even diving under mommy. I'm sure they did when I wasn't watching, but 5-6 week olds would go outside without any heat here unless it was utterly ridiculous. I had eight week olds outside last jan/feb and it was in the single digits. They didn't even notice.


8 Years
Mar 9, 2011
Chittenden County, VT
Good thread, glad to hear from people up in Alaska! We are in Northern VT and our winters do get down to -30F in the dead of Jan-Feb (-40 to -50 not unheard of on occasion), but otherwise range from 20F to -20F from December thru March.

This is our first year with chickens and our coop is unheated, though mostly insulated. We've had couple killing frosts and temps in the 30's a couple nights. I did close the windows closest to the roost, but left one wall of hardware cloth open. We did not have any winds at night though, or I would have closed that some.

I plan on insulating the underside of our tin roof, and adding some more ventilation near the top of our 12' peak, hoping that and our soffit vents will be enough ventilation with the windows closed, but I plan on waiting for another few weeks to a month before I close the rest of the windows.

We do not have heat in the coop, and don't plan on running extension cords out there, and absolutely not running any heat lamps. I will bring out warm water each morning, or keep two waterers and switch out each day as needed. Unless anyone has ideas for keeping water thawed without electricity?

I try not to baby my chickens, since they are naturally well equipped livestock and I've tried to pick breeds hardy to our weather. In a warmer climate that rarely got below freezing I'd never heat or insulate, and would worry more about drafts and ventilation.


9 Years
Sep 20, 2010
West Lebanon, NY
Mrs. AK-Bird-Brain :

Quote:Isn't this where we say to the newcomers, please go back and read the first page!!!

Oh yes! You must have read it all! LOL!

Newcomers...Go back and read the first page!!!

Mrs AK, I have been a follower since the beginning!!!


8 Years
Sep 30, 2011
Mrs. AK-BIRD-BRAIN, maybe you could just bump this thread everyday for the next 6 months. Or even make it a sticky.

The raising of chicks with NO heat lamps should be made a sticky as well. My chicks were outside in three days, and well into the night at 50* with just a blanket on top and one side to cull the wind. In the coup at about two or three weeks. There really is a huge dis-service to these animals being done by a great number of information 'sources' from supposed 'experts' (thinking hatcheries and the like). As livestock owners, especially small heard or flock, we should be attempting to mimic nature as much as possible and allow there wonderful creatures the full extent of God's gift to them.

Many of these people are dutifully taking care of their flocks and chicks they way they were instructed, only to end up with a lesser animal in some cases. Not fair to the owners, and certainly not fair to the animal.

Just my opinion. Not trying to jump on a soap box or anything. Just frustrated I guess.


Chick Magnet
11 Years
Mar 3, 2008
Quote:I totally understand.

All it takes is losing one chick when not adding heat to create the fear of letting them get cold. And my theory is that by adding any more heat than they really need we are really doing them a disservice, and making them dependent on the heat. But that's chicks... full grown chickens, allowed to acclimate to the changing seasons will do just fine if you have the right housing for them.

I'm hoping that people posting their experiences without heat in the dead of winter will help keep this bumped to the top for the newbies.


8 Years
Sep 30, 2011
Maybe I will take my thermometer out to the coop when it -30 and take a picture. 1000 word type of thing.

Personally I would rather have a chick die right off, rather than one that didn't, get sick and be a petri-dish for the rest of the flock.

I guess I am just a heartless, chick murdering, chinkensickle manufacturer.

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