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How To Keep Your Chickens Warm In The Winter

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With winter fast approaching I’ve had a lot of people asking me how to keep your chickens warm in the winter.  Not only that, they’ve actually said they had given up raising chickens all together because they couldn’t keep them alive!

I was absolutely shocked by this because I’ve had at least three people in the past month or so say this to me!

When you have your first winter with chickens it can be a little overwhelming to try and figure out how to care for them! These foolproof steps will keep your chickens safe and warm all winter long, and you won't add a cent to your electric bill! #raisingchickens #chickensinthewinter #keepingchickenswarminthewinter #backyardpoultry #chickens #backyardchickens #homesteadchickens #achickandhergardenIt's hard not to worry about your chickens in the winter! The tips in this post have helped keep my chickens happy and warm this winter! #winterchickens #backyardchickens #chickenswarminwinter #raisingchickens #achickandhergarden

It’s been quite awhile since we put in the coop and brought home our first chicks.  So, to come up with an answer I really had to sit and think about it.

Sharing is caring!!  Pin me for others!!Keeping chickens warm in the winter can seem like a daunting task. But if you follow these tips from the start they'll be toasty warm in the chicken coop!

How To Keep Your Chickens Warm In The Winter

Have A Winter Hardy Bird

Before anything, including building your coop, you actually have to do a bit of research on the type of chickens best fit your climate.   We had a pretty clear image of what we wanted when we started with our chickens.

We wanted a dual purpose breed.

We wanted them to be friendly (because believe it or not I was terrified of them before we got started!).

And we needed them to be able to withstand the temperatures of Northwestern Pennsylvania, also known as the “Snow Belt.”

This helped us to decide on Buff Orpingtons, which were perfect chickens for our climate!

Here’s a list of a few breeds that you may be interested in:




Buff Orpington



Easter Egger


Plymouth Rock

Rhode Island Red



These are great winter hardy birds, but I will say this.  Be mindful of where you get them.

I am guilty of caving into the cute peeping at Tractor Supply and feed stores.

But quite a few of my local chicken friends have said that they had these birds and they were extremely small compared to my flock.

Related Posts:

How To Treat Your Chicken Coop For Mites

Dual Purpose Chickens: Raise ‘Em Like Your Grandma Did ~ An eBook

The Only Tip You Need ~ Keep Your Chickens Water From Freezing

Helping Your Chickens Through Fall Molting

How To Build A Brooder House, And Why You Need One

What Are Heritage Breed Chickens

How to Make Money on the Homestead

Have The Right Size Coop For The Amount Of Chickens You Have

Knowing how to keep your chickens warm in the winter means, knowing the right amount of space for the amount of birds you have.

A good rule of thumb is 2.5-3 square feet per bird.  They need each others body heat to keep warm.

Having a lower ceiling also helps.

Having more space than you need not only makes it colder, but when it is colder they tend to pile up on each other and could actually trample each other to death!

Insulate Your Chicken Coop

Help to hold in heat by insulating your coop.

We were fortunate enough to have some leftover fiberglass insulation from a job that my husband had just finished.  But you can use whatever insulation works best for you.

Use The Deep Litter Method

We are pretty adamant about not using electricity in our coop.  You can read why here, and how we have eggs in the winter without it, here.

Without electricity, that means heating without heat lamps to keep your chickens warm.  So how do we do that?

We heat with compost!  Actually it’s their bedding which is later used as compost.

Compost generates heat, so we allow the bedding to compost itself in the coop.  There’s a process to it, so keep an eye out for a new post explaining the process!

Plug Drafts While Still Leaving Ventilation

Sounds tricky right??  Ventilation is needed to keep the moisture down in the coop, which can cause frost bite.  But, drafts are a moot point to your heat in the coop.

So how do you ventilate without drafts?

Make sure your ventilation is well above their heads while they’re roosting, and make sure to plug any drafts below that point.

Shelter Your Coop From The Wind… And Even The Run

I’ve seen people use anything from straw bails, to old feed bags blocking their coops and runs from the wind.

By blocking the run as well you are giving them a sheltered area to get outside a bit.

Make Sure To Include Scratch In Their Winter Diet

Not only is scratch like crack to chickens, it helps to keep them warm!  Weird right??

Well, not really.  It takes a chicken more energy to break down scratch than typical feed.  And with that energy comes body heat.  Just like you moving around to keep yourself warm.

Don’t Forget Warm Treats!

Imagine how much better you feel with a hot cup of coffee or tea in your hands on a cold day!  Your flock will not only thank you for a hot treat, they might run you over to get it!

Some treats you can give are scrambled eggs or oatmeal.

I love to take this opportunity to incorporate things like herbs, cinnamon and molasses into their diets for their healing properties!

Now that you know how to keep your chickens warm, don’t forget to keep them hydrated!  Check out how to keep their water from freezing without electricity here!

Do you have any more tips for keeping your flock warm in the winter??  Tell me in the comments!


Wednesday 18th of October 2017

I have heard (and tried) adding cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to their feed, and it warms the birds from the inside out. Supposedly, they don't have heat receptors in their mouths, so they don't taste it, but it works just like a human taking it in pill form.....if you've ever tried it, it makes you feel like you're starting to get a sunburn. I've tried it with my hens, and have to believe it helps. I have cared for chickens for 6 years, and never lost one due to the cold.


Wednesday 18th of October 2017

Oh, I also live in Michigan.