Keeping the chickens warm

Winters in Minnesota get cold.  Really cold.  On January 2nd, we woke up to temperatures of -30 degrees F.  We have 11 laying hens that we do our best to keep somewhat comfortable during these frigid winter months.  One of the strategies that we use is to bank snow up against the coop to help insulate and minimize any draftiness.  The walls of the coop are insulated too, which helps a lot, although I am certain that not many chicken coops were insulated on original working farms of our parent’s generation.

Inside the coop, we keep a heat lamp running to generate some heat for the chickens and to help keep the water thawed out.  Jesse also keeps the water font sitting on top of a homemade font heater for the really cold days. The font heater is made from a thermostatic controlled heating element in an upside down drain oil pan.

The windows on the coop are single pane windows, so this year Jesse decided to add an interior plexiglass panel to decrease the heat loss out the windows.  We believe it has made a big difference in helping the coop stay warmer, but we have had some condensation issues when the outside temperatures rise.

Layer chickens can drink anywhere from 1 to 2 cups of water each day.  During this latest cold snap, it seems as though the chickens have been going through a LOT of water. It is nice to have the water hydrant close to the coop for quick fill-ups.

Here are the chickens  all cozy and looking for scratch grains that I toss them for a treat.

We were away from home for one night and the chickens filled the nest boxes. You can see that we have a couple of Aracaunas that lay the green eggs.


Filed under Chicken coop, Chickens, Outbuildings

3 responses to “Keeping the chickens warm

  1. Kim

    I bet they drank so much water from all of the heat you gave them. lol

  2. Emil

    I grew up in northern WI near Ashland, our chicken coop wasn’t insulated and I can remember temps at -40 degrees at night. We only provided a heater for the water plus programmed lights to keep the chickens laying eggs. My dad said the chickens always did better laying eggs when it got cold – my guess is that they have an increased appetite when it gets cold and that induced them to lay more eggs.
    Right now I have four buff orpingtons in my back yard – I think they are in their third winter and they are refusing to lay any eggs (I have a light bulb in the coop to give them 13 – 14 hours of light each day). I know that the egg laying slows down as the chickens get older – but I haven’t gotten an egg for about two months now.

    • Hi Emil,
      I would guess your chickens have slowed laying because of their age. We usually only keep ours for about two years. We just rotated in a batch of new ones this summer and out of 11 chickens we are averaging 8-9 eggs a day! It’s hard when they are pets too, but it does get expensive to keep them around when they aren’t providing any eggs.
      Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

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