Chickens in the Cold

firstsnow2Most new chicken keepers worry about their flock when the temperatures drop. The biggest concern is whether or not a heat source should be added.
If you have provided your flock with adequate shelter from the wind and rain or snow, and there’s plenty of hay or straw in their house, I don’t recommend adding a heat source.

The extra things you can do to help your chickens fair the bitter cold is to give them scratch feed before bed and first thing in the morning. This is a hot feed and will help them stay warm, not to mention they love it. If you are worried about frost bite, the best solution is to apply Vaseline to their combs and wattles.

Your chickens will huddle together to stay warm. For peace of mind, stick your hand down between them at night and you’ll be pleased to find they are toasty warm. Chickens are hardy creatures, so my best advice is to not over think the questions involved in caring for them.

Remember, chickens in numbers are warm, and they acclimate rather quickly to temperature changes. If you have young birds that are just out of the brooder, a heat source is necessary until they are fully feathered, usually at about eight weeks of age. Just make sure they have been introduced to the cold and have been given time to acclimate.

Further Reading…

Raising Chickens in Cold Country
Cold Weather Care

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About tbnranch

amy elizabeth, writer, author, antique dealer. Lives in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert on a small hobby farm.
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6 Responses to Chickens in the Cold

  1. We haven’t had problems with our chickens and cold here until this last week. We had 5 days in a row where it never got warmer than 8 degrees F. And the nights were going down to -18F not including windchill. We have nice coops with plenty of bedding. We had some frostbite, so we treated the ones with big combs and wattles. We also had a strange thing happen to one 17 week old pullet – her legs froze solid and she couldn’t move.
    Because of this we decided that we will be adding a heat source whenever the high will be below 10 during the day for more than one day. The chickens have been fine in previous years with it going below ten and even down to -30 at night. But it has never lasted more than two days. We think the issue this time was the fact that it got cold and stayed bitterly cold for so many days in a row so they didn’t have any break from it.

    • tbnranch says:

      Those are pretty extreme temps, and if I saw my birds showing signs of frostbite and worse, I’d add heat too! Trust your judgement, sometimes rules have to be broken!

  2. A New Path says:

    It’s around 10 degrees here today and they’re out looking for a sunny patch! We have to get some more scratch- that is great tip to help them warm up. Thanks.

    • tbnranch says:

      It’s 32 here, not that cold, but I still feed scratch at night. It’s just like giving them an extra blanket! Nothin’ wrong with that! 🙂

  3. We’ve never had a problem with our chickens in the snow. As you say , they huddle together and keep warm that way. They don’t like walking on it though!!

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