How to keep your chickens warm in the winter is top of mind for anyone working hard to raise happy and healthy birds.
On one hand, nature’s got your back
Chickens are naturally adapted to keep warm through the winter. Their downy feathers trap air close to their body which creates a pocket of warmth around their skin. Add to that their naturally high temperature, ability to increase metabolism when it is cold, and the instinct to huddle together, your flock can take care of themselves.
On the other hand, there are still a few things you can do to make sure your chickens stay warm this winter.
5 ways to help your chickens stay warm in winter
- Provide enough feed: Keeping in mind that your birds’ metabolism will increase to keep them warm, make sure to keep their feeder well-stocked through the winter. Adding a little scratch grain at night before they roost will provide a little calorie boost to keep your chickens warm during the winter nights.
- Keep your coop dry: Excess moisture can cause frostbite on combs and feet, so keeping moisture out of your coop will keep your chickens warm in the winter. Don’t keep water inside the coop and scatter straw at the entrance to keep mud and snow from being tracked inside.
- Draft free & properly vented coops: A chicken’s body temperature runs at 106º so as they huddle together, they will naturally heat up things up. A quality built chicken coop will keep the winter winds from seeping in and undoing their hard work. Your coops should also be properly vented, with the vents above your chickens’ heads as they roost. This allows the moisture to escape and prevents frostbite.
- Try the deep litter method: The benefits of the deep litter method are many! The manure and bedding put out heat as it decomposes, giving your coop a little temperature boost. It’s also less work for you and even provides healthy microbes for your birds.
- Let your chickens run: Getting outside during the winter months is important for the health of your flock. A tarp or plywood works as a wind-block against your chicken run and will encourage your birds to get out more. For added fun, give them a hanging cabbage to play with.
So that’s it! To keep your chickens warm in the winter, just follow these simple steps and you’ll have a happy, healthy flock.