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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reader Question - Chickens in Cold Weather


What about winter and backyard chicken coops? I live in Missouri and today is -7 degrees. What would I do with my chickens?  

Wow, that's cold. If you check on backyardchickens.com, they have a breed list, it will tell you the breeds that are hardy and well suited for cold weather.  During the winter we use a heat lamp, it isn't essential here in Utah, it just helps keep the egg production up because they aren't using the majority of their energy to stay warm.  You can make sure that the coop isn't drafty and even insulate it. I know someone who stacks straw bales around the coop in the winter, then uses the straw for their bedding throughout the rest of the year.

If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments.


Terry Golson said...

We regularly have temps well below freezing and the hens are fine. Just make sure that you have fresh water at all times. (A heater under the waterer makes this easy, available at feed stores) and your coop needs to be dry and draft free. I have more info here.

Mike said...

Chickens are relatively hardy animals and they will be OK in most cases if they have shelter and they are dry. Cold weather might cause there egg production to decrease so I like to keep them warm with a heat lamp which allows them to use more energy for egg production and less energy for keeping warm. Some birds that do well in cold weather include:
Ameraucana,Ancona, Araucana, Australorp,Buckeye,Jersey Giant,Orpington, Rhode Island, Sussex

Maggie said...

For us in Michigan, we have an indoor coop with access to the outside and another that is sort of in between... We make sure that the coops are dry and that our water heaters are running along with heat lamps to keep our egg production up. We offer food in the inside so the girls don't have to go out into the snow for it. Although, instead of using a dish, we still spread it around so they do get a little activity despite the lazy weather.

JenniferB said...

Here in Maine we've had some very cold days as well. On those days, the chickens stay "cooped up". We have a heated based for the water and I keep a regular light bulb on a timer in the coop. That way they get some light as well. They seem happy enough and our egg production is incredible! For 10 hens, we get anywhere between 6-10 eggs/day!

When the temps get close to 30 and if it's sunny, we open the coop so they can get out and walk around. The girls love this. I hate leaving them cooped up on the cold days. We have also gotten them a Flock Block that they can peck at rather than peck at each other. :)

Donna said...

Hi Jen I`m from maine to,just found this place its great.I love to talk chickens.I have BO`S,EE`S. two faverolles a frizzle and silkies.I have a two year old coop and am building onto it to the silkies this spring.They have a very small coop right now,it was my granddaughters play house.

Kiki said...

My fab husband rigged up a heater using a porcelain light fixture epoxied to dish of terra cotta saucer then covered w terra cotta pot. Based on idea seen on utube. Works great! To keep water from freezing in the run, we use a regular landscape spot light on a stake located outside pen. The light shines directly on waterer. Worked In 17 below! Hubby say a 120 watt bulb approximately 6 to 8 inches away so it doesn't melt plastic.