Hippy Chicks – How I keep my little chicken coop warm in the winter
How I keep my little chicken coop warm in the winter.
I call my chickens Hippy Chicks and you will understand why in a minute. We have spent the fall and early winter gaging the condition and making adjustments to the coop to winterize it. If you have a barn for your brood, you have half the battle won. If your chickens are in an outside coop, here are few steps that you can take to protect your chicken.
Adding a light. We added a recessed light to the top of our chicken coop when we built it. That turned out to be a good idea. The recessed lighting doesn’t take up head space in the hen house and is probably less likely to cook your chicken. We sloped the roof of the coop to allow space for the recessed canister as well as providing runoff from the hen house.
So this fall when the weather started to turn and it was dark earlier, we turned on the coop light on for the first time. Of course our chickens, being the most chicken of chickens, were afraid to go in the hen house with the bright light. Maybe too much light felt like daylight to them; it wasn’t time to hit the hay. Maybe chickens don’t like change.
Chickens huddling in a cold corner of the coop because they wouldn’t go in the hen house was a problem.
So we painted a light bulb black and tried that, and in they went. Go figure. The paint on the bulb didn’t last very long so we went to black light bulbs. The black light bulb keeps the hen house nice and warm yet doesn’t bother the chickens sleep habits. At night the hen house glows a psychedelic purple, but my five hippy chicks are nice and warm. (Now you know why I call them “Hippy Chicks.”)
Adding chips in the hen house. We switched from hay to chips this fall. Our chickens toss the hay out of the hen house moments after it has been placed there. White pine chips don’t fly out of the hen house as easily and helps to keep the ladies warm and dry.
Clean your coop of poop. Clean and freshen the coop floor and hen house often. Chickens spend a lot of time in the hen house during the winter since they typically go in at dusk and stay in until dawn. It’s a good idea to keep the hen house clean with fresh chips to keep the girls healthy. Plus, the bonus is that a clean hen house makes for a clean egg, i.e., no poo.
Extra feed. Make sure to keep your chickens well fed. Give them extra greens and scratch and check the water often. Check with your local grocer to see if they can give you their produce throw-aways. If it’s good enough for you to eat, it is okay to feed it to your chickens. But you will probably need to ask permission first.
Under cover. Another thing we did to winterize our coop was to tie a good sized tarp over the top and down the sides a bit. This has really helped to get the rain and snow out of the coop floor. When the snow started to blow sideways this week, we added a few movable side boards from some old construction signs we had in the shop.
This is how we keep our little coop warm here in the Pacific Northwest. They seem healthy and have continued to produce eggs even in 20 degree weather. Whatever your winter climate is, take some steps to protect your flock from the elements.