Caring for Chickens in Extreme Cold

I had no clue it was supposed to stay this cold for this long. When I went out for chores the other day, the wind-chill was -32 degrees Fahrenheit! Brrrr! If you’re out there battling the elements right now, here are few tips for caring for chickens in extreme cold.

1. Bundle Up

I’ve gotten a few crazy looks from people when they see my full winter chore getup. I can see it in their eyes – they think all those layers are a tad excessive…until they spend some time outside and realize how cold it is!

Leggings, sweat pants, two pairs of wool socks, a long sleeve shirt, hoodie, Carhartt coveralls, Carhartt coat, scarf, ski mask, hat, winter boots and thick gloves – that’s the secret to my sub-zero success.

2. Heated Waterers

I have tried a plethora of different heated poultry waterers and have finally settled on two great options.

A simple heated dog dish is by far the cheapest and most foolproof option. The only bummer is that the water tends to get dirty and it needs to be refilled frequently.

In an attempt to solve those problems, I tried Premier One’s Heated Waterer this year. I am loving it so far! With it’s 3 gallon capacity, I only have to fill it every few days and the water stays clean as a whistle. I’ll share more thoughts and specific pros and cons in a future post.

Whatever waterer you choose, be sure to check it daily. If something goes wrong, you don’t want your chickens to be out of water for long.

3. Heat

Heating tends to be a controversial topic in the chicken world. Here’s what I’m currently doing:

For most of the winter, I just use a Sweeter Heater heating panel. It is very safe (the last thing I want is a coop fire) and lets off a gentle heat. Mine is mounted on the wall, but I think it’s a great idea to hang one over the roosts so the chickens can sleep under the warmth.

During our recent extreme cold snap, I also hung a heat lamp in the coop. I highly recommend Premier One’s Prima Heat Lamp. This heat lamp is way better than the average, sketchy, metal heat lamps you can find at your local farm store.

4. Ventilation

This is something that is often overlooked but so important. The last thing you want to do is close your chickens up, shut the windows and lock the doors for weeks at a time. Your birds will create a lot of moisture in the air which can end up causing problems – like frostbite.

My chickens always have access to the run. Yes, even in the extreme cold, when it’s -25 degrees, the little door between the coop and run is open and the chickens are encouraged to go outside. For most of the winter, I also keep the windows cracked or partially open.

5. Deep Bedding

Lots of deep bedding in your coop provides wonderful insulation. Old hay, straw, wood chips and pine shavings are all great options. Plus, if your bedding is deep enough to start composting, the decomposition process will create additional heat.

I am so excited to leave all this extreme cold behind. Next week it’s going to be in the 40s! Yay! What a great reminder that spring is on it’s way. But till then, I’ll keep bundling up for chores and enjoying the beautiful winter wonderland I get to call home.

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