Properly Caring for Chickens in Winter

Properly caring for chickens in winter can be tricky, but these tips can get you started on winterizing chicken coops for your cold-hardy breeds.

| December 2013

  • Fresh Eggs Daily is author Lisa Steeles guide to raising healthy chickens naturally, which includes feeding them a diet of herbs, flowers, and greens.
    Cover Courtesy St. Lynn's Press
  • Caring for chickens in winter does not need to be difficult, or expensive. Try the Deep Litter Method in winterizing your chicken coops to offer healthy heat to your cold-hardy breeds.
    Photo By Fotolia/chelle129

Learn to treat your flock to a diet rich in a variety of herbs, greens, and flowers with Fresh Eggs Daily (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013). Lisa Steele offers dozens of simple and intelligent tips for “going natural” that help you avoid common ailments that plague many backyard flocks. This excerpt from “In the Winter” gives advice on caring for chickens in winter, including an in-depth look at the Deep Litter Method.

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Fresh Eggs Daily.

More Fresh Eggs Daily:

What to Feed Chickens in Winter       
DIY Chicken Scratch Wreath
Homemade Suet Block Recipe
Things to Know Before Building a Backyard Chicken Coop
Green Choices for Chicken Coop Bedding
Easy Green Tips for Refreshing and Cleaning a Chicken Coop

Caring For Chickens in Winter

Winter is approaching, and your chickens are ready to brave the elements with their brand new feathers. In the winter, they will fluff their feathers to trap warm air next to their bodies to help insulate themselves from the cold air. Chickens handle cold far better than heat, but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate a few creature comforts on those cold, blustery days. The most important thing in caring for chickens in winter is making sure that your coop is dry and draft-free, with good cross airflow and ventilation that is higher up than the roosts. Inadequate ventilation will lead to high moisture levels, which can contribute to both frostbite and respiratory issues. Frostbite is partially caused by damp conditions, so having good ventilation not only provides clean fresh air but helps prevent frostbite.

Roosts should be wide enough that your hens’ feet are flat when they roost and completely covered by their bodies from the top and the roosting board from underneath. This helps to prevent frostbite on their toes.

11/29/2015 8:36:30 AM

"If you smell even a hint of ammonia, you need to clean the entire coop out, put down a new layer of shavings and start over." No that is not necessary. If you smell ammonia it means you haven't been adding enough carbon and all you need to do is to add some more in and the smell will go away. It is a balancing act but not a hard one to maintain. The suggestion of clearing it out and starting over again is irresponsible, you'll lose the composting process which is one of the key benefits of the deep litter method.

10/9/2014 12:55:31 PM

I have 4 guineas, I have only had them for about 6 weeks, they are about 5 months old. Will they go in the coop during the winter, they are still roosting in a new by tree. How can I get them to "coop up" with the rest of my hens? They all get along during the day, eat together, play together....

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