How To Protect Your Chickens In The Winter Cold

The rapidly approaching cold has just about everyone with chickens rushing to figure out how to safely keep their chickens warm and comfortable. My own chickens are chilling in the mid 40s while the wind and snow neighborhood. Keeping your chickens warm in the winter is easier than you think.

You can help protect your chickens from the winter cold without using a dangerous heat lamp that are known to lead to coop fires. Most of the things you can do can be very inexpensive and easy to do as well.

The dangers of heat lamps.

Before we go into what you should do to help keep your chickens warm I want to discuss what you should not do and why it is so important. Heat lamps are the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to keeping warm for most animal owners.

The issue is that for many animal owners heat lamps lead to the death of their animals when bedding or wooden frames get caught on fire. Instead of risking the safety of your flock, I will show you some frugal ways to help keep your chickens warm and dry to help protect them from the cold. Remember that providing heat means that they will not acclimate to the cold and a power outage could lead to the death of your chickens.

Create wind blocks

The low temperatures are not the biggest risk to your chickens, It is the cold icy wind that leads your chickens to issues like frostbite. To help protect your chickens you can create white blocks to keep the wind off of them. If you have a chicken run this is easily achieved by covering your run in clear plastic. While tarps are great they should be avoided on the actual chicken run to help the sun get in to help your chickens produce eggs in the winter.

Block off drafts

While you need space for ventilation to keep the moisture levels down in your chicken coop you do not want areas where the wind can easily whip into your chicken coop and run. My favorite way to block these off is to wrap the coop in a large tarp and to isolate spaces from the inside using cardboard inside of old feed bags stapled up over areas that are drafty and around the roosts to protect them at night.

This is where upcycling the feed bags and even the boxes from our feed delivery goes a long way in helping to keep the chickens warm. When spring arrives we will take it down and use these things as row covers in the garden to help control weeds or act as a tray for soil block seed starting.

For the chicken run, we covered it in greenhouse plastic sheeting. This blocks the wind but lets the sun heat the chicken run and the tires we keep inside to help keep them warmer longer into the night.

Keep water from freezing

No matter the method you use for keeping your chickens supplied with water remember to keep it outside of the coop in the run. This will prevent the water from adding moisture that can lead to frostbite.

Heated waterer

If you have the time to go get a heated waterer this is a great way to help keep your chickens water from freezing. If you do not have power run to your coop you can use an outdoor graded extension cord.

Salt bottle in the waterer

Fill a bottle with rock salt and water then place this bottle into your waterer. This will allow your temperatures to get much lower before your water starts to freeze.

Insulating the water

Insulating your water container can make a world of a difference. Many people find that filling feed bags with straw and wrapping them around the water container can really help keep it warmer longer.

Bring the water in at night.

We use the salt bottle method but we also bring the water in at night so it is fresh and ready to go in the morning. This helps fight the worst of the cold while supplying them with water.

Consider safe supplemental heat

If you are getting very cold and want to give your chickens a helping hand with keeping warm for the worst of it you do have some safer options. Remember that if you run these you want to make sure your chickens do not become too used to the added heat so they can survive in a power outage.

Cozy coop heat plates are a great option for adding safe heat to your coop. It will not warm your coop like a space heater but radiate enough heat to help prevent frostbite and give your children something to cuddle up to if they need supplemental heat on the worst of nights.

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