Even with their heavy plumage, chickens can get pretty chilly during the winter. To keep your flock happy, healthy and comfortable, it’s important to make sure their coop is equipped to keep them warm even on the coldest days of the year. Today we’ll look at a few ways to ensure your flock stays warm all winter long.
Give Your Chickens Extra Room to Roost
At night, your chickens should be able to roost together and keep each other warm with their body heat. If you notice any of your chickens resting on the cold ground at night, make sure they have enough space to roost with the rest of the flock. Bear in mind that any roosts should be at least two feet off the ground as well.
Try the Deep Litter Method
This technique uses pine shavings (or other organic materials such as dry leaves or dry straw) to insulate your chicken coop. It also makes litter management a breeze. Simply layer pine shavings on the floor of the coop, and turn the bedding about once a week with a rake or pitchfork. You can also add scratch grains or food scraps to the mix to encourage your chickens to stir the litter for you. Once the litter starts to break down, add another layer of pine shavings so that the bedding is about a foot thick.
The deep litter method will keep your coop warm and cozy, and also form a layer of compost that allows healthy microbes to consume unhealthy bacteria in chicken waste. It’s a win-win for you and your chickens.
Add a “Cold Frame” to Your Coop
A cold frame is essentially a small greenhouse or sunroom structure that you can attach to the outside of your chicken coop. It can easily be constructed with a wood frame and Plexiglas panels, or with clear plastic sheeting stretched over the frame. With a cold frame, your chickens will be able to huddle up and stay warm when they’re outside during the day.