Chickens and freezing weather : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Does anyone know how chickens were kept warm before electricity in areas where it gets to -10degrees? I'm talking about adult chickens. Thanks

-- Shirley Champion (, August 31, 1999


It is typical to let chicken liter build up on the floor of the coop for a year or so before it is cleaned out. The slow decomposition gives off some heat as the material breaks down. Think of a compost pile and how they heat up. You should also have a coop properly sized for the number of birds that you are keeping. The body heat of the birds will provide a little warmth for each other. We kept chickens on the family farm and I don't recall any hens ever having frost-bitten combs. We nearly always had a few days during the winter where the temperature got down to -15. In other words, the birds should do just fine without any special measures. I once read of a lady that poured hot water over laying mash. By the time she got to the hen house, the mixture had cooled to an edible temperature, and thus supplied the birds with their daily water as well as feed. She claimed that she provided no other water for the birds, and that they flourished.

-- greenbeanman (, September 01, 1999.

Thanks, I won't worry about it then since the coop will be closed in. I wish I could leave dirt on the floor of the house and have it provide heat for the family:)

-- Shirley Champion (, September 01, 1999.

I insulated my 8 feet by 8 feet shed type hen house. The roof on the south is 7 feet tall and on the north 6 feet. I glazed the entire south side and put the people door in the west and the chicken door in the east. I have a salvaged Mr. Coffee heater under the aluminum dutch over I use for a waterer in the winter. It regularly gets VERY cold inside the house at night. I feed extra corn when it gets below zero. I hope that we don't have extended cold snaps that contain -30 temps day after day.

-- kirby johnson (, October 26, 1999.

The only thing that I do in the winter,Indiana, is water them more often because the water freezes. We have some comb damage, but not much. I have been thinking about building a waterer that has a heat tape wrapped around it and then covered with insulation. I like the idea because of the thermostat, it only works when you need it.

-- Tom Calloway (, December 05, 1999.

We live about 50 miles from the Canadian border and its been pretty cold lately. I agree with Tom C. that the only things we have done are feed more corn/wheat and change water more frequently. We, like Tom, have experienced comb damage but the birds are thriving otherwise and friends can't believe how big they are! Some have also been laying for about a month!

-- lisa m. (, February 14, 2000.

I live in Minnesota, and I built our chickens a corner in the barn, and as Winter approached I put plastic tarps on the sides and roof to give them more wind shelter.

I, too, have a coffee burner under a large metal wash basin that keeps their water from freezing (most days). Since I haul the water from the house, it minimizes the number of buckets that I drag down there.

Chickens are doing great, and I haven't been forced to buy eggs from the store yet this year. (For a family of 6, that's not too shabby for the hens, eh?)

-- Rachel (, February 15, 2000.

My mother-in-law says they had a wood stove in the chicken coop back on the farm when she was a girl. We are not brave enough to try that! We have deep litter on the floor and always feed them some corn in the cold weather. They have suffered some comb/wattle damage in some very cold winters, but nothing life threatening. We have even had hens hatch out chicks in January! We get plenty of eggs through the winter except less on the very coldest days. I think it's the corn - friends near here who have chickens don't feed corn & they don't get eggs.

-- anon (, February 15, 2000.

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