Prepping Your Chicken Coop for Winter

Top 15.5 Ideas for Prepping Your Chicken Coop for Winter

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Man, I’ll never forget the first winter after I built my chicken coop.

I thought those feathered ladies of mine would be perfectly fine with their fluffy down coats.

Boy was I wrong!

After the first cold snap, my girls were pecking at the door non-stop begging to come inside the house with me!

Well, let me tell you I learned real quick that chickens need a well-insulated, draft-free coop to stay warm and healthy through the winter.

So here’s a funny story for you.

That first winter, I even tried making some of my old flannel shirts into little chicken sweaters – yep, you heard that right!

Let’s just say trying to catch chickens and put clothes on them did not go as smoothly as I imagined.

Feathers went flying everywhere and my girls did not appreciate my fashion sense.

I’m just glad I don’t have any neighbors nearby to see what craziness I was up to!

Insulate the Coop Walls and Ceiling

Prepping Your Chicken Coop for Winter

Insulation is key for keeping your flock warm!

I recommend using materials like straw bales, foam boards, fiberglass insulation or even wool blankets.

For my coop, I used R-13 fiberglass batts for the walls and R-30 for the ceiling.

The higher R-value, the better the insulation.

I also stuffed any cracks and gaps with spare fiberglass.

You can even just use good ol’ straw – it works great!

Make sure to wear gloves and a mask when working with insulation.

The stuff can be itchy and irritating if it gets on your skin.

Take your time and do a thorough job sealing up the coop.

It’ll make a huge difference in keeping your flock warm all winter long.

Seal Drafts and Vents

Prepping Your Chicken Coop for Winter

Make sure there are no cracks or gaps that allow cold air and moisture inside the coop.

Any small openings can let freezing drafts through, especially around windows and doors.

I used clear caulk and weatherstripping to seal everything up nice and tight.

For the doors, I installed heavy rubber flaps that keep the cold air out but still let the chickens go in and out on warmer days.

If you have any vents or openings toward the top of your coop, rig up a way to block them off for winter.

I just used some old plywood and hooks to make insulated panels that I can put up when needed.

Taking the time to tightly seal drafts makes a huge difference in keeping the coop warm for your flock.

Add Extra Bedding

Prepping Your Chicken Coop for Winter

Use lots of wood shavings, straw or sand to create a cozy floor for your chickens’ feet.

I lay down a thick 8-inch layer in the coop before winter hits.

It helps insulate the floor and gives their feet a soft, warm place to perch at night.

I prefer using wood shavings as they’re really absorbent.

The extra bedding also keeps the chickens clean and dry through winter weather.

Deep litter method is ideal – just keep adding fresh shavings on top as needed.

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You’ll have nice composted material to clean out in the spring!

Providing plenty of fluffy bedding encourages chickens to roost longer too.

It keeps their feet warmer which is better for overall health and egg production.

Install a Heating Lamp

how to prep chicken coop for winter

Mount a brooder lamp to provide supplemental warmth, but make sure it can’t start a fire.

I use a 250 watt infrared bulb in my coop.

It gives off gentle, radiant heat the chickens love to huddle under when temperatures plummet.

I have it mounted high up out of reach of the birds and away from any flammable material.

Be very careful about fire risks – I also have a smoke detector installed just in case.

Only keep the lamp on when absolutely needed at night or during extreme cold spells.

The light lets chickens move around and eat a bit during long winter nights too.

Just remember fire safety is a top priority when using heat lamps with chickens!

Get a Heated Waterer

how to prep chicken coop for winter

Invest in a waterer with a heating element to prevent frozen water.

Chickens need access to unfrozen, fresh water round the clock in winter.

I installed an electric heated base under my metal waterer.

It keeps their water thawed 24/7 down to -20 degrees.

No more breaking up thick sheets of ice umpteen times a day!

The heated models aren’t cheap but man are they worth it.

I no longer have to worry about my chickens becoming dehydrated on frigid winter days.

A heated waterer is definitely a must-have for winter flock care.

Position the Coop out of the Wind

how to prep chicken coop for winter

Find a sheltered location using structures or natural barriers like trees to block wind.

Gusty winter winds only make chickens colder.

My coop sits in a grove of mature spruce trees.

They block the worst winds and precipitation from reaching the coop.

If your coop is exposed, you can create wind blocks using straw bales or plywood.

Just make sure you don’t block ventilation and cause a moisture build-up inside.

Orientation matters too – avoid facing the coop entrance directly into the prevailing winter winds.

Take advantage of any existing structures or landscape that offer natural wind protection.

Your flock will thank you for giving them a breezy-free roosting spot for winter!

Ventilate the Coop

Allow air flow to reduce moisture but prevent drafts.

Open vents along the upper part of walls.

Ventilation is crucial for a healthy coop environment all year round.

In winter, the goals is to remove moisture without creating drafts directly on the chickens.

I close up smaller vents and just leave the larger ones open near the roofline.

This allows stale, humid air to escape from the top while keeping the coop interior draft-free.

You can also rig up adjustable ventilation using sheets of plywood or plastic over vents.

Cracking the coop windows on warmer winter days helps refresh the air too.

Proper ventilation prevents build-up of moisture and ammonia from the chicken’s manure.

Check for Pests

Mice, rats and flies can become a problem in winter.

Seal any entry points.

Pests like rodents and flies love to sneak into a toasty chicken coop to escape the cold.

I seal any openings bigger than 1/4 inch to deter mice and rats.

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Steel mesh and hardware cloth around the base of the coop helps reinforce it.

For flies, I scrub the coop down really well and apply larvicide before winter.

Ensuring there are no leaks in drinkers helps too since flies lay eggs in damp spots.

It’s much easier to prevent pest problems than deal with them once they’ve moved into your coop!

A good fall coop cleaning and sealing up holes keeps the unwanted critters out all winter.

Let Chickens Out in Winter

If not too cold or wet, allow chickens supervised time outside even in winter.

Getting outside is important for chicken health and happiness year-round.

I let my flock out to scratch and dust bathe on dry days above 25 degrees F.

Happy chickens will play in the snow – it’s hilarious to watch!

I use a patio heater and wind barriers to create a sheltered outdoor area for them to use.

Chickens with cabin fever get bored and pick on each other.

A little time outdoors, even in winter, provides enrichment.

Just keep a close eye on your feathered ladies – if they start to shiver, it’s time to go back into the warm coop.

Clean the Coop

Do a deep coop cleaning before winter to prevent disease and parasites.

A scrub down of the whole coop interior is vital before the cold sets in.

I pressure wash and disinfect every surface and all equipment with a diluted bleach solution.

Removing all old bedding and manure prevents harmful diseases and parasites.

Spot clean the coop weekly, but a thorough seasonal sanitizing is a must.

After cleaning, I sprinkle diatomaceous earth for added pest protection.

Cleaning the coop to start winter off fresh gives your chickens the best chance to stay healthy.

Protect from Moisture

Use tarps over part of outdoor runs to keep precipitation out of coops.

Wind driven rain and snow can saturate a coop in winter.

I secure heavy-duty tarps over the outdoor run and parts of the coop roof.

It forms a waterproof barrier that directs moisture away.

The covered run allows my chickens to get outside even when it’s precipitating.

Inside the coop, be sure to frequently replace any soggy bedding.

Excess moisture breeds harmful mold and bacteria.

Keep your coop dry all winter with strategic use of tarps and fresh bedding.

Adjust Lighting Times

Mimic shorter winter daylight hours to keep egg production up.

Decreasing day length confuses chickens’ egg cycles.

I use an automatic coop light on a timer to simulate summer hours.

Providing 16-17 hours of “daylight” prevents reduced egg laying.

The light comes on in the mornings and evenings to keep everything on schedule.

Happy, laying hens need a regular daily rhythm.

Supplemental lighting reduces stress and keeps up production.

Feed Chickens Layer Rations

Provide extra protein, calcium and nutrients to keep birds in top form.

Chickens need more energy in cold months to stay warm and lay eggs.

I feed an 18% protein, calcium-enriched layer feed all winter.

Corn, oats, legumes and veggie fats offer great nutrition.

Supplementing with extra treats like mealworms or scratch grains helps too.

Keep feeders full so chickens always have access.

Proper winter nutrition keeps chickens in prime health and productive.

Prepare for Power Outages

Have a generator or alternative heating source ready to go just in case.

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Winter storms can knock out power when you need it most.

I have a small propane space heater I can use in the coop if the electricity goes down.

Propane and kerosene heaters work well as emergency backup heat sources.

Just follow all safety guidelines closely and never leave them unattended.

Having a plan to keep your chickens warm if you lose power is critical.

A generator or alternate mini-heater gives peace of mind that your flock will stay cozy and healthy.

Well those are my top tips for winterizing your flock’s coop.

Let me know if you have any other good ideas!

Stay cozy out there.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier – don’t forget about ventilation!

Keeping airflow going is crucial, even in winter.

Stale, humid air can cause all kinds of health issues for your flock.

Make sure your coop has some vents or windows protected with wire mesh to allow fresh air exchange.

You don’t want it to get drafty, but proper ventilation removes moisture and ammonia build-up from the chicken’s droppings.

I open my coop windows for a bit each day unless it’s bitterly cold or windy.

The chickens’ breath and poop creates moisture, so letting fresh air circulate keeps things healthier.

Just watch for signs of frostbite on combs and wattles if ventilation is too extreme.

Finding the right balance takes some trial and error.

Okay, what else? Don’t forget water – chickens need lots of unfrozen water 24/7.

I use heated bases or submergible heaters to keep their water thawed.

You have to stay on top of it, as their demand for water remains high even when it’s below freezing outside.

Dehydration is a real concern in winter if chickens don’t have access to liquid water at all times.

Some people even bring the waterers indoors at night to prevent freezing.

Just do what it takes to ensure fresh, unfrozen water through cold snaps.

Your ladies will thank you for it!

And about the coop floors – even with lots of bedding, the floor itself needs insulation too.

A cold floor draws warmth right out of chickens’ feet.

Laying a wood, cardboard or foam panel barrier over dirt floors helps retain warmth inside.

You want to trap heat in to keep their little toes toasty.

For wood coops, check for drafts or gaps where boards meet the ground.

Sealing those up helps prevent heat being sucked out.

A few degrees warmer on their roosting spot makes a big difference!

And if you’re able, adding a layer of straw bales or other insulation around the exterior coop walls provides additional buffer from the cold.

Any little bit helps when you’re trying to create a warm haven from winter.

And that about covers my big tips for prepping your coop and chickens for cold weather.

Let me know if you have any other winter coop prep tricks to share!

Stay warm and cozy, friends.

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