How to Winterize your Chicken Coop
If you live in the north, or really anywhere that gets below 30º Fahrenheit, you should consider taking some actions to make sure your coop is ready for cold weather and snow. First, and most importantly, you want your flock to stay happy and healthy. Some breeds are more winter-hardy than others (e.g. Plymouth Rocks are known to be cold-weather resistant), so you should take that factor into consideration as well.
Because of the lack of other food and warmth available to them, winter is a time when rodents and other pests are notoriously difficult to keep out. You really want to avoid them gnawing on your chickens’ feathers and eating eggs out of the nesting boxes. Not to mention, it’s not a good time collecting eggs when mice are scurrying around you as you collect eggs.
So what can you do?
Give your coop a thorough cleaning before the cold weather sets in
Let your flock out into the run or yard and take some time to clean the inside of the coop thoroughly. Be sure to clean out all the droppings, old bedding and nest box material, and give it a good rinse. Take care to not use any cleaners that are toxic and only use mild dish soap or natural cleaning agents. Some backyard chicken keepers use insecticides, like Permethrin 10 after rinsing the coop as well to prevent fleas, mites, and lice in the wintertime. It’s also a good idea to clear all the dust off the walls and ceilings as well.
Secure all feed and pest-attracting materials.
As we mentioned before, rodents will be on the hunt for food in the winter. The last thing you want is for your feed to be overrun by mice in the wintertime. You should store your feed in a sturdy garbage container or plastic bin. This is best practice even in the summer months, but especially important in the wintertime.
Insulating and Heating your Chicken Coop
It’s not necessary to go crazy on this one. Chickens are naturally hardy birds, and their feathers will be enough to keep them warm in the winter for the most part. Here’s what you want to look out for:
1) Make sure there are no drafts in the coop. If a hen’s feathers are being blown up by icy winter wind, they can’t do much in the way of keeping her warm.
2) Make sure there is adequate ventilation. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you need to let some of that air in, even if it’s cold outside. If there is no airflow in the coop, you set your flock up for all kinds of health problems, and there is no way for moisture to escape - bringing me to my third point.
3) Make sure your coop is dry. A damp coop is a breeding ground for disease. Keep it dry.
If you’re concerned about an especially cold winter, you can insulate the coop or add a heater, like our Sweeter Heater, but you likely don’t need to worry about it.
Heated Chicken Waterer (Optional)
This step is marked optional, thought it’s super convenient to not have to replace water twice a day in the cold weather. Plus, it gives you peace of mind that your birds have something to drink at all times.