Chicken House Warm-Up | Living the Country Life
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Chicken House Warm-Up

Winterizing your chicken house before the snow flies helps your chickens (and you!) weather the cold.
  • Weathering Winter

    Surprisingly hardy, chickens can happily weather winter in their chicken house. Don't be surprised to find them strutting about in their runs on a sunny winter day, leaving big three-toed footprints in the snow. Most chicken-raising sources say it's best to keep chicken houses uheated so chickens acclimate to colder tempereatures gradually. But there are a few things you can do to make their winter months safer and more comfortable. Here are a few things to consider before temps take a dive. 

    Date Published: October 2, 2017
    Date Updated: February 28, 2018
  • Keep Water from Freezing

    It's inevitable; When temperatures drop below 32°F, your chickens' water will freeze. If your chicken house has electricity, set the waterer on a heated base (available online or from your local farm store). Or use a heated dog water bowl; its low profile makes it ideal for thirsty chickens. If your chicken house doesn't have electricity, replace your metal waterer with a black rubber watering pan (the waterer will freeze solid in below-freezing temperatures). Empty the pan at night (when the temperatures drop and chickens don't leave their roosts) and replace them with fresh water in the morning from a nearby water hydrant. 

    Date Published: October 2, 2017
    Date Updated: February 28, 2018
  • Feed Smart

    A large-capacity hopper feeder, hung from the ceiling of your chicken house, is your best asset in cold weather. Fill the feeder to the top; depending on the number in your flock, you may need to do this just once a week. Chickens need high-quality feed to help them stay warm. Supplement grain feeds with greens for a treat. 

    Date Published: October 2, 2017
    Date Updated: February 28, 2018
  • Move Feed Inside

    Place a feed storage container inside the chicken house to make hopper refills easier. Use a metal garbage can large enough to hold several bags of feed; persistent rodents won't be able to chew through it. 

    Date Published: October 2, 2017
    Date Updated: February 28, 2018
  • Add Bedding

    Cold weather makes cleaning up droppings more challenging, so keep nest boxes filled with clean, dry bedding, such as pine shavings, straw, or shredded newspaper. Add several inches of bedding to the floor to provide a dry surface underfoot. Change nest box bedding often: clean boxes produce clean eggs.

    Date Published: October 2, 2017
    Date Updated: February 28, 2018
  • Check Roosts

    Chickens crowd together on roosts at night. This keeps them off the cold ground and allows them to share body warmth. Make sure roosts are solidly built and are strong enough to hold your coop's population. 

    Date Published: October 2, 2017
    Date Updated: February 28, 2018
  • Eliminate Drafts

    While chickens love fresh air, they don't like drafts, so make sure the glass in the coop's windows isn't cracked or broken and that doors and windows seal tightly. You do, however, want adequate air ciculation to help eliminate humidity, which can result in comb or wattle frostbite as well as foster an environment for disease. Airflow also blows away odors that build up; if your coop has a strong ammonia smell you need to improve ventilation. If your chicken house doesn't have a built-in venting system, consider adding one. Or, at the very least, prop open a window during the day. 

    Date Published: October 2, 2017
    Date Updated: February 28, 2018
  • Seal Holes, Cracks, and Doors

    A warm, food-filled chicken house looks like a fancy hotel to mice and rats. And predators such as raccoons and weasels are in search of easy meals. Make entry to the chicken house impossible for pests by sealing holes. Mice can wiggle through holes the size of a dime. If you can get beneath your chicken house, do so at night; work with a partner with a flashlight to expose small entryways that might be hard to see during the day. Staple fine wire mesh over holes or nail a tin can top over each hole. Make sure doors close completely. 

    Date Published: October 2, 2017
    Date Updated: February 28, 2018
  • Add Heat in Severe Weather

    If there's a stretch of particularly severe cold (below 0°F for several days in a row), consider adding a heating unit for the cold's duration. Low-watt heaters for coops are available online or from farm stores. Stay away from infrared bulbs, which get very hot and pose a fire risk. 

    Date Published: October 2, 2017
    Date Updated: February 28, 2018

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