Protecting your Flock: What Chickens Need in Winter
This entry was posted on January 28, 2016.
Are you really ready for cold weather? If you own chickens, you may not be -- keeping them warm and dry is essential if you want to avoid frostbite, respiratory and related health issues this year; insulating your coop can protect your birds and keep them in an optimal setting year round. The insulation and protection you need to provide for your chickens in winter depends on several factors. You’ll need to consider the average low temperature where you live, the way you insulate your coop and even the varieties of chickens you have.
How cold does it get where you live?
If you live in a state that occasionally drops below freezing, but otherwise has mild winters, simple insulation and blocking drafts will help keep your birds warm all year round. For those with regular freezing temperatures at night, snow and sleet, more aggressive insulating measures may be needed.
How hardy are your birds?
Some breeds are more winter hardy than others and will be comfortable in temperatures that are too cold for you. If you have purchased your chickens from a hatchery or local breeder, you should have an idea of how hardy they are; big robust and healthy birds like Orpingtons, Jersey Giants and Rhode Island Reds are known for being cold hardy, as are many Sex Link Hybrids. Despite their hardiness, insulating your coop can prevent comb and foot issues, even in these larger birds. If you have bantams, Silkies or very young chicks, you’ll need to take more measures to insulate your coop.
What is your coop setup like right now?
Would you want to spend the night? No matter how your coop looks, unless two or more walls are solid, your chickens are likely too exposed to cold weather. Covering two or more walls with a durable, chicken safe insulation can help keep your pets warm. If you do have walls, covering the exposed or wind side of the run can help provide a dry spot for winter scratching, even if it snows or rains outside.
Insulating your Coop
Your chickens generate enough body heat to stay warm, provided you insulate your coop. By wrapping two or more sides of your existing coop with a good quality insulator that is chicken safe, you can keep them warm without resorting to a dangerous outdoor heater. Insulated coops stay warm enough to prevent waterers from freezing, so you can be sure that your birds stay healthy and hydrated
Insulation works so well, you actually have to remember to leave a gap at the top of the coop for heat to escape; too much warmth can cause humidity levels to rise and can be uncomfortable for your birds. Insulate all but the top few inches of your coop to allow warm air to escape and to keep your birds toasty warm and dry.
- While any material can be used to block winds and drafts, some are far superior to others. Simply covering the coop with a trash bag or floor cloth isn’t enough. These materials won’t hold up for long and could even be dangerous if your chickens decide those dangling strands of plastic are food.
- A reflective bubble insulation for the chicken coop allows you to safely insulate your birds as needed, without the risk or headache of using a flimsy plastic. The bubbles trap air, helping you maintain a warm coop just with chicken body heat, while the reflective layer allows light inside. If you have year round layers, even an additional hour or two of light per day can make the difference between daily eggs and occasional eggs in your nesting boxes.
- Covering one side or the top of a scratching area can help insulate it while repelling airborne predators. Hawks get particularly aggressive when food supply dwindles in winter and a reflective surface can help protect your birds from predation.
- Choose a chicken friendly insulator like reflective bubble wrap and set aside an hour or two to insulate your coop before the really cold weather arrives. Once this task is done, you can be sure your birds are safe, warm and dry no matter what the weather is like outside.
We have provided insulation for a lot of chicken coops. We’ve got you covered – literally! Find your wrap among these sizes to keep your birds safe this winter.