thinking about winter


8 Years
Apr 29, 2011
This is my first experience with chickens and ducks so I'm trying to plan ahead. What do we do with them in the winter? How cold is to cold?

I live on the central coast of california- you guys will probably laugh cause I know many of your are east of me- but our winters generally range from around 40 degrees to 65 (give or take). Last year we had a REALLY cold year and it got into the low 30s for a few weeks. I already have a tarp over their coop because I felt like our summer nights have been on the chilly side -low 60s.

Thank you for your advice!
You'll need a warm blanket, maybe a bail of straw or something flat & sturdy and definitely a new waterer/drink holder.
The blanket is for you, the straw is to sit on, and the drinker is for your hot cocoa as you watch them defy nature and barely notice the weather has changed.


My goose tubs only freeze if it's under 28* for several hours in a row... so I'm guessing, whatever you have for your ducks will likely be fine. Business as usual.


the tubs are these, and we have 3 around the yard
oh that sounds easy!! We have a kiddie pool for the ducks- I've never seen water freeze around here so I didn't think that would be a problem. But it will get REALLY cold. I guess its their choice to swim in it or not?

And the chickens can safely sleep in cold weather? They don't need anything special to help them thru the cold night?

Lmao- guess I'm a city girl not use to weather hardened farm animals.

Do these animals survive in snow? Just curious (it hasn't snowed here -ever?) don't ducks fly south for the winter (if they could fly I mean)?
I just read your article on sand - I love it and I think it will make our life easier!! Can ducks live in the sand?? My birds share a coop.
No, your fine, very good questions!! I was just taking advantage of a rare opportunity to encourage someone, who probably doesn't have to do anything, to just enjoy! Your very smart to ask though for sure, best to be prepared!

In DEEP snow, my chickens stay in the coop, but otherwise everyone is out & loose. The cold temperatures BELOW freezing are an issue, but otherwise aren't usually much to worry about. I'm assuming they have a windproof coop or area to sleep in of course, because that is necessary. But just the air temperature being cold, is usually not a problem. I have open coops, it gets in the 20s here regularly and we do just fine without even closing up the walls. Of course, they are in NO way in draft or breeze.. it's just the air temp that's brrrrrrrr cold.

My geese will even try to swim in a pond that is half ice even though they are actually surfing on the sheet of ice that formed on top!

Again, not totally sure abut the ducks in particular, but my guess is they know what is good for them. About the sand, I would also have to say good for ducks, UNLESS your indoors on sand and they have a waterer or tub. The sand would get really wet all the time without drainage beneath the floor if they play in it and make a mess. Hope that helps you.

I'll trade winter weather with you.
. It gets as low as -20F with a windchill more then -40F during our winters for days. We layer our clothing, wear snowsuits, hat, mittens, face mask, and boots. I'll have a heater for my chickens, so they don't freeze to death. Hopefully the heater will keep the water thawed. If not, we will buy a heated bowl. I won't leave the house and our coop is in the garage, so I won't have to trek through several feet of snow.

It's starting to feel like fall today. The high was in the upper 60's and our low is in the 40's tonight. Our chickens much prefer this weather then the 100's. Your tarp will be fine, your chickens will huddle together if they are chilly.
I would so gladly trade winters with you. I'm not sure if those temperatures even qualify as 'winter'.
In reality, all your birds will need is protection from the wind. They will be fine.
My duck lives with my chickens in a coop with sand inside (and out). I have yet to go through the winter in this situation, but so far I have learned that the water needs to be kept OUT side of the coop if sand is inside. Wet sand is not good - I imagine in the winter it would be very bad since it would freeze. I expect the dry sand inside to be fine. The duck seems to like the sand just fine. I am thinking of making a water system using nipples so the chickens will have water during cold and snow, inside in case they won't go out in the snow. I'm sure the duck will go out side in the snow, especially if I put an aquarium heater or trough heater in the ducks water..... outside. If the duck will/can drink from the nipples then great - she'll get water inside. But for bobbing that head, she has to go out of the coop.

Hope that helps!
we got down to -26 last year and stayed below zero most of the winter. I did nothing except have a heated waterer. I had juveniles out in the barn in single digit weather. Yours will be fine without anything at all.
I am a native of Southern California and I now I live in the Pacific Northwest and lovely land o' coffee and volcanos. This will be my first winter with chickens and I was wondering also what I should be thinking about, but I need to remind myself they will be fine, even in the cold. It doesn't get below freezing often here, but it did last year. Even then it was nothing compared to back east!

The back part of my property becomes a pond every winter and the ducks come back to it every year. My neighbor even built a floating 'house boat' for them to make nests and have babies. Not all birds fly south for the winter. I have hummingbirds that overwinter up here and I just make their food more concentrated when its cold to help keep them warm. I am just very happy I am not a duck paddle-dragin' my be-hind around a cold pond, on a cold winter day! We tend to project onto our animals. (ie, I am cold and need a sweater, maybe the flock does too) I don't even think they notice, but it would be comical to knit a chicken sweater and then try to get it on a chicken!

Good luck!

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