Essential Tips for Chicken Keepers to Prepare for Winter

As the days grow shorter and temperatures dip, chicken keepers should start shifting their focus to preparing their feathered friends for the cold winter months. Winter can be a challenging time for chickens, but with proper planning and care, your flock can stay healthy and comfortable. In this blog, we’ll provide you with important tips to help you prepare your chickens for winter and keep them thriving in the cold.

1.Insulate the Coop

One of the 1st steps for Winter preparation is to make sure your chicken coop is well-insulated. Insulation helps to keep the cold air out and maintain a stable temperature inside the coop. Check for drafts and seal any gaps or cracks that could cause the cold wind to get through. You can use materials like straw bales, foam boards, or weatherstripping to insulate the coop effectively.

2.Provide Adequate Ventilation

Proper ventilation is equally important. Good ventilation ensures that moisture and ammonia from chicken excrement can escape the coop, preventing respiratory issues.

3.Offer Ample Bedding

In colder weather, chickens naturally spend more time indoors, so it’s essential to provide them with plenty of bedding. Straw or pine shavings are excellent choices as they provide insulation and warmth. For more information, check out our guide to chicken bedding. Be sure to regularly check and replace wet or soiled bedding to prevent frostbite and keep your coop dry.

4.Invest in Heated Waterers or Water Heater Plates

Access to clean, unfrozen water is crucial for your chickens’ well-being. Consider investing in heated waterers or heated bases to prevent water from freezing. Use warm water when refilling to help maintain a more comfortable drinking temperature.

5.Increase Caloric Intake

Chickens burn more energy to stay warm during winter, so you can adjust their diet accordingly. Offer high-quality layer feed and supplement it with grains, such as corn and scratch, to increase their calorie intake. This helps them generate body heat and maintain a healthy weight.

In moderation, high protein treats are also a good option for increasing caloric intake for your hens!

6. Provide Extra Roosting Space

Chickens naturally roost to keep their feet off the cold ground. Ensure they have ample space to roost comfortably, and consider adding extra roosting bars to accommodate the entire flock. Pro tip: opt for wider roosts to help prevent frostbite on their toes.

7.Use Heat Lamps Sparingly

While heat lamps can be helpful, use them with caution. They can be a fire hazard if not properly installed and monitored, and we have heard many sad tales about well-intentioned chicken keepers unintentionally burning down the coop. If you choose to use heat lamps, make sure they are securely positioned, and provide a backup heat source like a heated pad or cozy nesting boxes. Generally, it is recommended to avoid using them altogether.

8.Monitor Continuously for Frostbite

Chickens are susceptible to frostbite on their combs, wattles, and toes. Check your chickens regularly for signs of frostbite, such as discoloration or swelling. Applying petroleum jelly to exposed areas can provide some protection.

9.Reduce Daylight Hours

Chickens need around 14-16 hours of light each day to lay eggs consistently. During winter, you may need to supplement natural light with artificial lighting to meet these requirements. A timer can help automate this process.


Preparing your chickens for winter is an essential part of responsible chicken keeping, especially for chicken keepers who live in especially cold climates. By following these tips, you can ensure your flock remains healthy, warm, and happy throughout the cold season. Remember that each flock is unique, so pay attention to your chickens’ specific needs and make adjustments as necessary. With proper care and attention, your chickens will not only survive but thrive during the winter months.