Winterizing and social impacts of winter confinement


BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist
13 Years
Aug 17, 2008
Larry, KS
My Coop
My Coop
I got on this subject from someone else's post about winter hardiness.

I'm going to have to figure out if BR are also winter hardy, as I've got 5 of them. I'm in NE Kansas, and it gets fierce here in the winter for short bursts.

The original post that got me thinking was about RIR, and that's what my neighbor (the one who got me hooked!) has-- he's very nonchalant about care and won't go to great lengths to prepare the birds for winter- prob is, when I got my girls, I got 2 extra and raised them for him for first 2 months. One died soon after I gave them to him, and now at 5 mos, his BR is ostracized by his RIR and I'm worried she won't winter well w/o a friend to snuggle with, etc.

Can you tell I'm still emotionally attached to this girl? My kids are, too. I won't be doing that sort of raising/handing over again...not good for me.

Can a BR survive well w/o friends in the winter?

Should I go to any special lengths to winterize for my 5 BR, as far as heating my coop or insulating it? Jan suggested upping scratch when temps start to dip, but what other measures shall I take?



11 Years
Aug 25, 2008
Peoria, IL
First off, I'm no expert. We're in west central IL (between St. Louis, MO and Springfield, IL), so I'm guessing our weather is similar to yours. Last winter was our first with chickens, and our two did just fine. We put a small electric heater in the coop and ran it on low when it got really cold. We kept it off until temps got below freezing to let the girls grow good winter feathers. Our goal was to keep the inside of the coop above freezing - mostly to keep their water thawed out. The two of them snuggled close at night, and it was no problem.

This year we have 10 girls, so we'll probably still use the heater, but I won't worry about them quite as much.

And yes, I've heard that scratch helps increase their body temperature, so it's good in the winter. But again, I'm not an expert.


Flock Goddess
13 Years
Jan 12, 2007
Weymouth, Massachusetts
I only have Obelisk so this year she's going in the cat carrier and brought inside...just because she won't have a buddy to cuddle.

Make sure that your place for the birds is water tight...Air circulation is a good thing...Make sure that the waterers don't freeze. Scratch is good. A nice warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning too.

In case they get shut in, a diversion is good. A head of cabbage hung so that they can jump and play with it is good to help prevent picking. Obelisk has some Stretchy Lizards to beat the snot out of.


In the Brooder
11 Years
Oct 6, 2008
I'm new to the chick biz too. I am in central IN and understand that if they have no drafts in their coop should be ok with just a heat light. I have gone in and looked for light during the day and caulked. I will also increase the amount of chips on the floor even though my brood roosts on wooden poles. Hope we dont have a bad winter!


11 Years
Aug 6, 2008
central Vermont
I can't say how big a part your chickens' acclimation to your own climate plays in the wintertime.......but we live in Vermont and our winters are for real. We've never had a chicken freeze, even with single-digit temps (last winter we didn't even use a heat lamp & they did fine). Just remember, they're wearing fantastic down "coats"! I'd say, whatever you start with them, such as using a heater, you'd need to be consistent with. If that's a bit iffy, with potential power outtages (always a possibility here), it may be best not to get them dependent on the extra heat. Price of extra electricity helped make our decision.

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