Winter Chicken Care In The Mid-West

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Ellochicken, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Ellochicken

    Ellochicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2012
    Hello Fellow Chicken Farmers!
    I was wondering about keeping my hens warm in the winter time here in the Mid-West, I know they can go into the below temperatures, but I want to know how to keep their water un-frozen, how long to keep the heat lamp on, where I can find a heat lamp timer, etc.
    This is going to be my first winter with my hens, so it should be a good one!
    Thanks So Much!

  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Your chickens do not need a heat lamp, just draft-free, well-ventilated coop, plenty of food, and unfrozen water. there are several commercial heated waterers, and they are well worth the price.
  3. Amyandalan

    Amyandalan Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 15, 2012
    Aylesbury England
    ]We were having the same thoughts and were told to either take the water holder in at night and put back during the day as they don't need it when sleeping or to add glycerine to the water as this prevents freezing
    My husband suggested adding alcohol but not sure on that lol
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  4. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    I agree - draft-free but well ventilated coop (so vents near the roof but not near roost bars). There is so much humidity in breathing and off-gassing of poo - that is what causes the most problems for chickens in winter. And a heat lamp only if you've got chicks under 2mo. Remember, bodies acclimate to whatever conditions they are used if you've acclimated your chickens to have heat, they'll get chilled outside in the run and/or if you loose power!

    For the run, I did put up a wind-barrier on the north and west side of their run (a tarp). Seemed to help cut down the direct Canadian drafts we get here in Chicagoland.

    As for water...Search on this site for 'cookie tin water heater'. (I think it's in the coop design section, but don't hold me to that....)

    Last winter was a mild one, but we still had negative temps every now and then. I made 2 cookie-tin water heaters and NEVER had frozen water. I think I used a 12watt lightbulb inside it. This year, I'm going to see how low of a watt bulb I can go and still have un-frozen water. The waterer in the run would have the slightest film of ice on the coldest mornings, but the film was thin enough to be broken by my fingernail. The waterer in the coop would actually be warm enough to melt the snow on the compost bins!

    Hope this helps!
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I am in central Missouri and during coldest part of winter the birds have access to liquid water for only about an hour during early morning about dawn. Most of their water needs are ingested then but they also pick at ice during balance of day. You can also slip in additional water by feeding with wet grain like oats or even sunflower seeds. Birds will also consume snow quite well. I avoid using any heat sources in coop setting as that raises fire risk.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by