Some More Chicken Questions... About Winter This Time

Calling all chicken mamas! I have been doing some research on preparing my coop and "flock" (I say it like that because there are only 3 hens) for winter. Our coop is small, and has a large south facing window and north facing door (small) for the girls to get in and out of. We plan on insulating the coop before winter comes, but it gets really cold out there! What have you found is the best way to heat the coop? Incandescent bulbs? A red heat lamp? All the websites say different things, so I wanted to see if I could get some tried and true opinions. As far as the water goes, I am pretty sure I want to get this waterer that simply plugs into an extension cord and heats up. It even has temp control. Pretty sweet.

Thanks for your help everyone!

And a small side note, Blanche laid an egg today! A real one, with a shell and everything! I am so proud of her!


  1. Number one thing - no drafts. If chickens can roost, preferably together, they do pretty well, even without heat. That being said, we do occasionally turn on a light for nights that go below zero. Any stint of lights over three days, and they start to lay again. So either stick with a red heat bulb, or plan to stick with the artificial light plan for a while. Many farmers give the chickens 14+ hours of light to stimulate egg production (we do it only until Thanksgiving) but that shortens their overall egg-laying life, as they use up more ova sooner.

    If anybody has prominent combs or wattles, vaseline the heck out of them on sub zero nights to prevent frostbite. Works for toes, too if the roost situation is not optimal.

    The fact that you are planning to heat the water helps, too.

  2. Our coop is insulated. Since it was an addition to the back of his garage, it will also get heated by default. Melanie had a very good response!

  3. No drafts is good, but also make sure there is ventilation. Chickens have a high respiration rate and if you cut off the oxygen...well, you know. ;)

    chickens in the cold is something that everyone has an opinion on. Last year we buttoned up the coop and heated with a red heat lamp and everything was fine. It sometimes still would get cold enough to freeze the water (but I wasn't complaining if it was -30 below) so we'd haul water. (We didn't have a heated water thing.) We did provide artificial light. We got a TON of eggs last year in the winter, in fact they laid better in the winter than they have all summer. But I think they just got overworked with their egg laying. This year I will probably not provide that kind of light - it was our first winter with chickens and I would say all that laying in the winter downright ruined them for this year. :(

    I have MN friends who lock their chickens up all winter and I have MN friends who leave the coop door open and let them roam if they want. It's all in whatever works for you.

    Love the fallish blog!!

  4. Melanie, thanks for the tips! Especially about the vaseline on their combs. It gets purdy windy around here, and I don't want those little girls to freeze!

    APG, I am seriously jealous of your heated garage! Our coop is in the garage, but unfortunately none of it is heated or insulated :(

    MamaTea, I sure will remember to NOT suffocate the birds. That would be seriously bad. I think I will allow the girls to take a break from laying this winter. I don't want them to be overworked while trying to keep warm, and I didn't know that they ran out of ova (Mel's tip). I have to admit, your fallish blog inspired me to do a little updating :)

  5. We insulated our coop. It stayed warm, but we ended up with mite problem. When we moved, we took our coop apart (it was huge) and there were thousands of mites in the insulation. It was so grosssssss!! Now we have a coop without insulation just the red heat lamps. Our chickens did fine last winter (and it was a cold one). We even got just as many eggs as the summer.