If you have taken care of your sweet chicks, you have brooded your chicks and they possibly have started to lay they are living the happy chicken life outside, but then winter is coming. You probably want to know the secret to keeping chickens warm in winter, right?
Our first year with chickens in winter we were really stressed out about how we would be keeping our chickens warm. Winters here are not SO awful, but it gets well below freezing for quite a while. We also get a good amount of snow a few times a year.
We wondered if we needed a chicken coop heater of some sort. We also wondered what other winter chicken care we needed to know about.
I mean, if its below freezing and WE go outside we need to bundle up, right? So, what would we need to do to be keeping chickens warm in winter? Chicken sweaters, a chicken coop heater, heat lamps?
The first thing we quickly learned about keeping chickens warm in winter is to NEVER use a heat lamp!
The first and most important reason that you should NOT use a heat lamp or other chicken coop heater when thinking about keeping chickens warm in the winter is that they are an EXTREME fire hazard. There are barn and house fires EVERY year in the winter due to people using heat lamps.
This is one of the rules of thumb for keeping goats in the winter as well.
And, quite frankly, chickens in winter do not need extra heat. Think about those nice (expensive), warm down comforters you probably love. What helps make them so warm? Feathers!
Chickens can turn themselves into little heaters basically.
Chickens in winter will fluff up their already insulated feathers to trap more heat and this is a key to keeping chickens warm in winter. If it is SUPER cold, chickens will also cuddle together on their roosts to generate even more heat.
So, you can see that chickens do not need an added chicken coop heater even in the winter.
Another way of keeping chickens warm in winter is to be sure that they do not have any drafts in their coop.
Not having any drafts in their coop does not mean to plug it up super tight though. It is very important to allow proper ventilation. But do make sure that there are not winds or drafts coming through especially at areas where your chickens will be roosting.
As you can see, chicken care in winter does not have to be too difficult.
If you want to give a little extra comfort when thinking about keeping chickens warm in winter, you can also give them some special treats.
Any extra food, especially things like warm food or cracked corn helps them stay warm by increasing their digestion.
In addition to draft-free housing and some extra treats, there isn’t much to do in terms of chicken care in winter.
If your temperatures get below freezing, you will want to make sure your chickens have access to good, unfrozen water.
Now that you know the keys to keeping chickens warm in winter, you can rest assured that without too much extra care your chickens will stay safe, warm and healthy!