10 Ways to Keep Your Chickens Warm in Winter

Much of what you read online will tell you that most chickens will survive just fine in colder weather. While that may be true in some winter environments, people who raise chickens in brutally cold winter regions need to take certain precautions to keep chickens warm in winter.


Keeping your chickens warm during the harsh winter days doesn’t need to be daunting. All thanks to several simple coop changes you can make to help winterize your flock.

In this article, we’ll show you ten key ways to keep chickens warm in winter, with or without electricity.

1. Protect the Coop From Harsh Winter Winds

Many chicken coops are highly vulnerable to the cold, harsh winds of the winter season. The shelter gets very drafty when the temperatures begin to drop. If your enclosure isn’t insulated well or has a lot of holes that allow wind to whip right through it, you’ll need to get this taken care of. It won’t keep chickens warm in winter.

Drafty, unprotected coops can easily result in frostbitten chickens. Or in the worst cases, some chickens could die from the cold.

keeping chickens in winter

Of course, proper ventilation of your coop is essential to the health of your chickens. But excess winter winds can be harmful or deadly. The last thing you want is to walk into the coop and find chickens that have frozen to death.

Spend some time insulating areas of the coop that the chickens can hide in when the winds get harsh. Patch up obvious holes to keep the breeze from penetrating the walls. This simple step will save you a lot of grief when the wind chills drop below zero.

It will keep chickens warm in winter.

2. Choose the Right Location

The location of your coop will impact how easily your chickens will keep warm during the winter.

If you have a mobile chicken coop, find a protected area on your property that can house it during the winter. It is best to keep chickens warm in the winter in a location with plenty of trees or buildings. It keeps the cold winter air from slicing through the coop and into your chickens.

3. Using Litter

Using Litter to keep chicken warm in winter

Another ideal way to keep chickens warm in winter is by making sure they have loose, deep litter in the coop. Loose litters are better insulation for chickens than compact litters and keep them much warmer.

Begin with a 3 to 4-inch clean layer of litter. For this, you can use the following:

  • Straw
  • Leaves
  • Grass clippings
  • Wood shavings

Throughout the winter, add a fresh layer of litter to the coop every week. Also, throw in a bit of scratch grain every day. It will cause the chickens to peck and scratch around in the litter, helping it properly decompose.

When spring arrives (and when temperatures start to rise), clean most of the litter out of the coop and use it for fertilizer in a garden.

4. Shrink the Coop Size

Shrink the Coop Size to keep chicken warm in winter

It is a crucial step to take if you’re trying to keep chickens warm in the winter without using electricity.

When winter begins to set in, the first thing to do is make your coop smaller. Close off parts of the shelter with boards.

Most people know that heat rises. Because of this, ensure to position your roosting bars within about two feet of the coop’s ceiling. It helps the roosting chickens get more heat when you keep roosting bars as close to the ceiling as possible.

Chickens are also known to roost together to remain warm. Make sure you have plenty of roosting bars near the ceiling in the smaller winter space.

5. Check All Roosting Bars

Did you know that chickens need to keep their feet covered with their bodies in the winter to prevent frostbite? It is a critical part of how you keep chickens warm in winter.

Because of this, you must make sure all of your roosting bars are plenty wide. For proper winter roosting bars, two-by-four boards work best. It will allow your chickens to sleep in a flat-footed position while covering their feet from the elements.

When you place the roosting bars, ensure that the four-inch side of the board is facing up, as this provides a wider surface for the chickens to rest their feet and helps them cover their feet with their bodies to stay warm.

6. Cozy Nest Boxes

Cozy Nest Boxes to keep chicken warm in the winter

To make nesting boxes cozier and warmer for your chickens, hang some curtains in front of each one. They help a lot in keeping warm air inside the boxes. These tweaked boxes keep the chickens out of the cold and prevent their eggs from getting frozen.

Remember to fill each box with additional bedding material as well. It can only help keep chickens warm in winter.

7. Keep the Coop Insulated

Keep the Coop Insulated to keep chicken coop warm

As mentioned earlier, it’s essential to have a ventilated yet insulated coop to keep chickens warm in the winter. Here, we’ll get into more detail on how to do that.

After you’ve made the coop smaller by closing off a portion of it for winter, cover the outside of the boards with things like tarps, moving blankets, and additional insulation from foam boards you might have on hand.

If you lack in the blanket and tarp category, consider heading down to Goodwill or another second-hand store where you ensure that some fresh air can still get into the coop. It is very crucial for the health of your chickens.

You can also use insulators such as:

  • Spray foam
  • Thick plastic
  • Emptied feed bags
  • Extra foam insulation

If the temperatures continue to drop, add some straw insulation around the outside of the coop for more protection. It’s one more barrier between your chickens and the brutal winter winds looking to penetrate the enclosure.

8. Using Electricity If You Have It

Using Electricity to keep chicken warm in the winter

A lot of chicken owners try to heat their coops without the use of electricity. But if you have access to electricity in the shelter, it might be efficient and ideal to keep chickens warm in winter.

Even if your coop is insulated and isn’t drafty or damp, your chickens can still get cold. You’ll notice how they begin to change their behavior when the cold starts to set in. And no animal should be left to freeze if there are additional measures you can take to help them.

When temperatures drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit—and the wind chills get below zero (or colder)—turn on an electric heater for your chickens. Just be careful that a heating bulb doesn’t shatter and cause a fire in the coop.

It’s best to use a coop heater that’s made just for chickens or one that uses infrared bulbs instead of glass heating lamps. It is a great way to keep chickens warm in winter.

9. Feeding Chickens in the Winter

Feeding Chickens in the Winter

How you feed your chickens during the winter compared to how you do it in the summer months is crucial to change.

Free-range chickens are excellent at finding their own food during warm months. However, they require a little extra help with their food when all their warm-weather sources are gone or frozen.

Feed chickens high-quality food at least 2 or 3 times each day, with one extra feeding at dusk. It helps them increase body heat during long, cold nights. Cracked corn can be a perfect supplement to use in the winter to boost energy, but it’s not a complete nutrition source.

If you eagerly want to pamper your chickens in the winter, bring them some warm mush to dine on. It will stimulate your chickens’ appetites if they aren’t eating as much as they should.

10. Watering in the Winter

It’s just as important to keep chickens hydrated in the winter as it is in the warm summer months. Chickens can easily become dehydrated in the winter as their water sources freeze.

If you don’t have a heated waterer for your chickens that keeps water from freezing, bring your chickens some warm water twice daily. They are likely to be the thirstiest at dawn and dusk.

Frequently Asked Questions

keep chicken warm in the Winter

1. What temp is too cold for chickens?

Chickens have a standard body temperature of 106 degrees. They can maintain the said temperature in environments that are around 60 to 75 degrees. But once the coop reaches below 35 degrees, their body’s way of controlling the heat becomes imbalanced.

There are also some signs to tell if your chicken is experiencing too much cold:

  • The flock starts to huddle together in a corner
  • Their feet are glued to their chest
  • Feathers are puffed

2. What is the warmest bedding for chickens?

Straw can offer the maximum benefit for you and your chickens. Due to its hollow internal structure, straw is an excellent coop insulation material. Chickens also love nesting with this material, which helps kill boredom inside.

Aside from this, it is inexpensive and easy to clean. Its composition prevents the droppings from overly producing ammonia fumes. Plus, it helps manage the moisture, facilitating a composting process.

3. What is an alternative to a heat lamp for chickens?

Since heat lamp has a high risk of starting a fire, here are a few alternatives you can try:

  • Heat plates: It consumes less electricity and can be adjusted based on the size of your chick or chicken.
  • Heat pads: You can use this under a blanket or bedding. It has no artificial light, offering a lesser chance of burning.
  • Hot water bottle: It supplies temporary warmth inside the coop, but this is not advisable for young chicks.
  • Ceramic heat emitter: This material stimulates heat without using light. But be careful when applying this, as it can burn the chicken when it comes into contact with them.

4. Can chickens survive winter in a coop?

Yes, they can, as long as you provide supplemental warmth inside the shelter. Chickens can regulate their body temperature and can adapt if given the proper care.


The cold winter months don’t need torture for your beloved chickens. Even in freezing environments, you can keep chickens warm in winter. These ten simple steps are the best way to help your winter-raised chickens stay healthy and alive.

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