As winter approaches, you may wonder how to winterize your chicken coop. The good news is, chickens are hardy animals that can survive through harsh winters.

With that being said, you’ve got to do your part to ensure they’re ready for the blustery winter months ahead, otherwise, the season will hit your flock hard.  

So, to help you plan ahead, and ensure your flock is comfy and cozy all year, we’ve put together these important tips as you hunker down for the winter…your girls will thank you for it!


Your Coop’s Construction

Before we dig into the details, let’s talk about your coop. 

Wood holds heat much better than metal or plastic, so a wood shelter will help ensure your birds stay warmer during the cold winter months.

If you have anything other than a wooden coop, you’ll need to add insulation. This can be in the form of formal construction insulation (which may mean a tad more work for you) or in the form of straw bales. 

Either way, make sure your coop holds heat (from your birds) and can stand up to the outdoor elements. 


Clean Out Your Coop Before Winter

Next, it’s time to Fall clean your coop!

Begin by deep cleaning your coop, taking care to pay attention to every nook and cranny. 

Remove debris and dirty bedding, then scrub everything with warm soapy water. 

You might have decided to clean your coop less during the winter (especially if you’re using a deep litter method of bedding). So it’s important to start the winter off with a clean (pest-free) coop. 

Make sure to scrub the entire coop, very well. This will ensure you get rid of parasites and insects lurking about. 

Speaking of parasites, blood-sucking parasites can be deadly to your chickens, and these types of pests love to snuggle up with warm-bodied animals during the winter months. 

External parasites can cause anemia, feather loss, and even death if they aren’t removed promptly. So make sure you’re coop is pest-free from the beginning, and always re-check throughout the winter months. 

In addition, clean and scrub the water founts and feeders and replace them with winterized founts. 

Once you finish scrubbing everything in sight, lay a thin layer of wood ash or Diatomaceous Earth down to help kill off any remaining insects. 

Finally, add your bedding of choice.


Add More Bedding To Keep Your Chickens Warm

Add an extra six inches of winter bedding to give your chickens some additional insulation from cold concrete floors or frozen earth. 

Straw or pine shavings are great winter bedding options for winterizing your chicken coop. Both will act as an insulator for your chickens. 

Note: Since chickens spend more time in their chicken coop throughout the winter months, it’s important to change the bedding more frequently or, if you’re employing a deep litter method, add more bedding frequently and clean on a schedule. 


Eliminate Drafts To Keep Chickens Warm During Winter

A key step in winterizing your chicken coop is to eliminate cold drafts. 

Chickens stay warm by puffing up their feathers and if a draft flows through the coop it will cause them to become chilled and possibly perish from hypothermia. 

These drafts can also cause combs and limbs to become frostbitten (and eventually fall off or need to be removed).

To eliminate drafts, close windows and doors using plexiglass or plastic and then secure everything with caulk or another non-toxic adhesive. 

If you have a chicken run, don’t forget to take extra steps to ensure drafts and snow cannot blow into the coop from the run. Consider keeping tarps or blankets over the door of the coop. 

Don’t worry, your chooks will still come and go as they please, even with a door cover.

Finally, walk around the coop and repair any holes or entries into the coop. This prevents cold air and vermin from entering the coop. 


Ventilate your Coop

It might seem contradictory to allow for ventilation in your coop, especially after ensuring there weren’t any drafts. 

But ensuring your coop is properly ventilated is a crucial step in winterizing your chickens.

A draft of cold air flowing through the chicken coop can be harmful to your chicken, ventilation, on the other hand, allows air to circulate allowing dust, carbon dioxide, and ammonia to exit the coop and fresh air to enter. 

Strategically create ventilation holes where the ceiling meets the wall. 

By placing the holes at the top of the coop, you’re ensuring cold air does not directly blow on your chickens (instead it will circulate above them). 

To create your ventilation gaps, drill a few small holes near the ceiling on two opposite sides of your coop.


Move Chicken Feeders and Founts Outside

During the winter months, it’s wise to keep food outside of the chicken coop to keep rodents out of direct content with your chickens.

Mice, raccoons, rats, and opossums will seek out easy-to-find feed when there is little to be found during winter. 

And even though you’ve done your best to keep these pests away from your flock, they’ll do their best to get to chicken feed (and your chickens).  

Additionally, food and water in the coop may create extra moisture which can cause respiratory problems for your chickens. 

Lastly, if you live in an area that experiences sub-zero temperatures, consider employing a heated waterer so your flock always has fresh water. 

Safety Note: If you use heaters, take proper fire safety precautions by tucking away wires and keeping devices away from flammable litter.


Create a Winter Dust Bath

An important, yet overlooked, addition to the coop during winter is the dust bath. 

It’s important to create a dust bath for the winter months when the ground is frozen solid, and covered with snow and ice, so your chickens can shed dead skin, keep their natural oils in check, and get rid of old feathers and parasites. 

Adding a dust bath in the corner of their coop can help them stay healthy and happy throughout the winter months—not to mention ward off boredom.


Install a Ceramic Wall Heater and Light (Optional)

Only consider installing a ceramic wall heater if your region has frigid, subzero temperatures. The point of a heater isn’t necessarily to keep your chickens toasty warm, but instead, to help prevent frostbite in your chickens. 

This is a controversial subject amongst the chicken community. Some argue that chickens do not need heaters and that they are, in fact, detrimental to their ability to maintain appropriate internal temperatures. (especially if electricity is lost and the heaters are not working).

Ultimately, it’s your decision, but if you opt to utilize a heater, ensure that you’ve read the directions during installation to prevent coop fires. 

Lastly, for chickens to lay eggs, they typically need 14-16 hours of sunlight daily. 

Unfortunately, during the winter months, most regions only get 9-11 hours of sunlight. 

So, to keep the egg factories open, consider hanging a natural lighting lamp in the coop to help your chickens get some extra light. 

With that being said, be sure to take extra safety precautions to ensure there is no fire risk present. 


Getting through this to-do list before winter can be a daunting task, and that’s why it’s wise to get started early. 

To prevent panic on the first frosty night, create a list of things you need to do before the winter arrives and work your way through it over the course of a few days. 

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