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Keeping your chicken coop properly maintained is essential to the health of your chickens, no matter where you live. And yet, when it comes to preparing a chicken coop to stay warm in cold weather, a lot often gets overlooked. Luckily, though, keeping your chickens warm enough all winter long is easy to do.
Here’s how to heat a chicken coop:
- Seal any major openings.
- Add extra bedding.
- Add deep litter.
- Set up an outer barrier.
- Add extra coverings.
- Add a heat lamp.
- Add a heated pad.
- Add a Thermo Cube.
Each of these is a great way to keep a chicken coop warm, but they all have important details to be aware of, and even include some words of caution. For an in-depth guide through each of the methods above, including tips on how to best care for your chickens, keep reading.
Seal any major openings.
This way of keeping heat inside a chicken coop is by far the best first step one can take.
If you live somewhere with more mild winters, simply checking the structure of your chicken coop for any large openings and sealing them up can go a long way. Keep an eye out for obvious damage, like rotting, cracks, or holes. However, if you live somewhere with more severe winters, this is the first step to take before moving on to other ways of keeping your chicken coop warm.
Add extra bedding.
Bedding acts as a source of insulation for a chicken coop.
Adding more bedding than usual can make a big difference in keeping temperatures inside the coop at a healthy level for your chickens during the winter. Regularly adding bedding to a chicken coop is important year-round, but during the colder months, this is even more crucial. A little extra will go a long way.
Add deep litter.
Just like bedding, deep litter acts as a good source of insulation inside a chicken coop.
But unlike regular bedding, deep litter creates heat through its own decomposition process. However, be sure your coop has enough fresh air to filter out the gases it produces—these can be toxic to chickens if not enough fresh air is getting in the coop.
Set up an outer barrier.
If you live somewhere with high wind-speeds, consider putting a temporary barrier beside the chicken coop. This is great for keeping the right amount of heat inside.
Especially when temperatures drop below freezing, stronger gusts of wind can filter through chicken coops (even the most carefully designed ones), causing the temperature inside to drop very quickly. Wooden fences and Plexiglass sheets work well as a barrier against gusts of cold air, making it less likely for the temperature to drop too suddenly inside your chicken coop.
Additionally, if your coop is easy to move, consider setting it beside a wall of a shed or your house for even better results.
Add extra coverings.
Like outer barriers, adding extra coverings on a chicken coop is a popular way of keeping cold air from getting to your chickens. When securely fastened, blankets, bubble wrap, and cardboard all provide a great covering for a chicken coop in the harshest of wind conditions.
Use heat lamps.
When it comes to adding heat to a chicken coop, heat lamps are the most effective method. But be careful!
If heat lamps are installed incorrectly, they can easily put chickens at risk. Make sure to use bulbs that do not exceed the lamp’s wattage, and that you mount the lamp securely to a strong section of your coop’s ceiling. Also, it is crucial to make sure the heat lamp is positioned high enough in the coop so that your chickens are unable to reach it.
Heat lamps provide a great source of heat for your chickens, allowing them to move closer or farther away from them as a means of regulating their body temperature. When installed correctly, they can be one of the best ways of improving the health of your chickens.
Install heated pads.
Like heat lamps, heated pads also allow chickens to warm themselves or move away, depending on their needs.
However, they serve as a useful alternative to heat lamps in their higher level of safety. Available in a wide range of prices, heated pads also present an opportunity for chicken keepers to save on essential supplies.
Add some thermo cubes.
Thermo Cubes are a smart choice for anyone looking to simplify the process of adjusting coop requirements according to changes in temperature. This device automatically turns on when temperatures drop below 35°F (2°C) and turns off when temperatures rise above 45°F (7°C), making it far less likely to end up being a fire hazard than other types of heaters.
Keeping Your Chicken Coop Clean
No matter the weather, this is one of the most fundamental ways of supporting the long-term health of your chickens. And yet, getting your coop clean and safe to live in before the coldest months arrive is crucial. A clean chicken coop means happier, healthier chickens that produce not only more eggs, but better eggs.
The Power of Ventilation
One of the biggest factors to consider when making any changes to your chicken coop is how it will impact ventilation.
It is important to make sure the flow of fresh air from outside the coop walls is not completely blocked off. This applies when adding new bedding, coverings, heat sources, or if any structural maintenance to a chicken coop needs to be done. Not enough ventilation in a chicken coop can lead to toxic levels of ammonia building up over time.
But, if you are careful to make sure the changes to your chicken coop, or repairs made to damage, still allow for a good amount of airflow through the structure, your chickens will end up healthier because of it.
Consistent access to fresh, drinkable water is essential to the health of chickens.
But in places that drop below freezing temperatures, it is not always a straightforward thing to provide. Keeping your chicken coop heated will help lower the risk of ending up with frozen water, but it is still necessary to check it often to ensure your chickens are able to stay hydrated.
While it is obvious that access to water in hot weather is important, this is sometimes overlooked when it comes to cold weather. However, the dry air that often comes with winter months can cause dehydration in chickens.
When It Gets Colder, Feed Better
Feeding your chickens a little more helps them stay warm in cold weather because they will be able to transfer that energy into extra body heat. Giving them extra corn in the afternoon is especially helpful since they will have a little more than usual to digest through the night. An often overlooked method, this is one of the easiest things you can do to help your chickens thrive in cold weather.
With these methods, you will not only be better prepared to heat your chicken coop, but you will also be able to keep your chickens happy while you do it.
With so many easy ways to heat a chicken coop, it is important to remember that the health of your chickens can be impacted by even the smallest change to their living conditions. It is always a good idea to consider starting with methods that keep heat inside the chicken coop, before moving along to other methods used to add other sources of heat.