Chickens and Cold Weather


Tags: chickens, cold,

I’d rather not heat my chicken coop unless I have to. How cold is too cold for my hens? 

two chickens in snowChickens can handle very cold temperatures. Some experts say chickens don’t really start suffering until the temperature inside their coop falls to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit. They’ll start suffering earlier if it’s damp inside the chicken house, or if they haven’t become inured to the cold (which is why some people think using heat lamps for hens is a bad idea unless it gets incredibly cold). 

The lowest temperature we’ve had at my place is 8 degrees. My chickens didn’t mind this low temperature at all, and they live in wide-open, tumbledown coops, with all feeding and watering done outdoors. 

Even if your chickens are all right in the cold, you need to make sure they have access to water in below-freezing temperatures. As for waterers, if your coop has electricity, I’d suggest getting a couple of galvanized feed pans and using them for waterers on top of a heated stand. If they freeze up, swap in a replacement and take the frozen one inside to thaw. Open pans get messier than real waterers and have to be dumped out all the time, but they’re the best choice in freezing weather. 

The other problem with open pans is that the chickens can flip the water all over the place and soak their combs and wattles, which will get frostbite if this happens. One possible fix is to create a wooden float that floats on top of the water pan. Put a bunch of 1-inch holes in the float. This keeps the water-flipping to a minimum and helps insulate the pan. I’ve never tried this personally, but it’s mentioned in several old-time poultry books as a proven trick. 

— Robert Plamondon, 

5/12/2021 3:18:26 PM

When we lived in McGrath Alaska we raised chickens. Their coup wad un insulated. I did have a heat pad under their water so it was always warm. The coup was about 6 x 10 feet. Made of 2x4 studs and plywood walls. I did put in two red heat lamps over roost with 27 hens. I did get 2 or 3 frozen eggs a day. Twice a chicken got frozen feet so I took her in the house, put her in a tepid basin of water until she thawed out. Gave her a good bath and left her in the bathroom over night. Next day she was back with her friends. Only happened twice. All survived thru the winter and was in full swing in the spring. Temperature got to -55f on coldest day. Most important things: (1) adequate ventalation. (2) daily monitoring couple times a day. (3) warm water 24x7. (4) highest protein food you can find. That's what we did and did not loose but one hen, caught her eating an egg. Chicken for supper.

11/11/2019 4:46:42 PM

The temp here is 25, wind chill 11, my chickens are standing out doors behind the shed. They usually come into my shop. I can't get them in, So worried why they won'd come in either in the shop or the coop. They never have done this before. Any ideas?

11/18/2018 6:33:46 AM

I am wondering if the eggs that have been in below freezing temps need to be refrigerated after gathering?

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