Once again, winter is upon us. And whether you are a seasoned chicken owner or new to the game, it can be a scary time. We worry that our chickens won’t keep warm or that smaller hens will get frostbite. It seems like everyone uses heat lamps to keep their hens extra warm. But what if you don’t have access to electricity? Here are some tips to keep chickens warm without electricity.
#1 Finding Drafts
Our first tip to keep chickens warm without electricity is to check your coop for drafts. If your coop is new and well made, you won’t have drafts. But every year, your coop will settle a little more. Checking the floorboards, wall paneling, and roof for significant leaks will keep your chickens nice and warm.
But how do you seal these leaks? There are a few options to do this. For larger gaps, an expanding foam sealer is your best option. You could also use a silicone sealant for smaller cracks in the floor. And of course, there is a good old-fashioned newspaper to fill drafts temporarily.
We know what your thinking. Didn’t we just tell you to get rid of drafts? Ventilation is different from a draft because it has a function. You don’t want to get rid of all ventilation in the winter, or else humidity and ammonia will build up in your coop. The more humidity your coop has, the more prone your hens are to frostbite. And when you combine this with ammonia, your chickens could get very ill.
The key to winter ventilation is to keep it up high. If you add ventilation along the roof of your house, humidity and ammonia will escape without letting a wintry breeze inside. With no moisture in the air, your hens will keep nice and warm.
#3 Deep Litter Method
If you haven’t heard about the deep litter method yet, you need to. Bedding your coop with the deep litter method is terrific because it naturally composts chicken waste. With the good bacteria working its magic on the floor, it creates a natural warmth. And since hot air rises, the deep litter method could heat your entire coop.
#4 Glass Windows
If your coop doesn’t already have them, large windows are great for winter. The windows work just like a greenhouse to trap heat with sunlight through the glass. But you don’t want just any window.
An insulated double-paned window directed toward the sunlight is the best for warming a coop. And the best part is that these windows can work wonders as ventilation during the summer.
#5 Flat Roosts
Many people use rounded roosts because it is more natural for a chicken. But some recent studies have shown that a flat perch might be best. How does this work?
Chickens in winter love to sleep on their feet and fluff-up tight. And a round roost doesn’t allow your chickens to do this naturally. A flat area for your chickens to sleep on might prevent frostbite on their legs. So check the width of your roost bars. A simple 2×4 is the perfect winter change your coop needs to keep your hens snug.
One of the least known tips to keep chickens warm without electricity is free-feeding. We like to measure out and schedule feeding times to keep our hen’s weight in check during the summer. But during the winter, you might want to rethink restricting chicken feed.
When your chicken digests food, it warms their bodies. It’s also a good idea since foraging materials are nonexistent in winter. So keeping food available throughout the day can keep your chickens warm without electricity needed.
#7 Fill Them With Chicken Scratch
Expanding on #6, feeding a scratch at night warms your chickens from the inside out. Scratch is full of grains and corn that takes longer to digest. And if a chicken produces body heat when they eat, scratch is the perfect dinner. Your flock will be warm all night with a belly full of scratch.
But don’t feed your hens scratch throughout the day. It isn’t nutritionally whole and can malnourish your hens if fed all day.
#8 Solar Powered Heater
In the coldest winters, sometimes we wish we could run electricity to our coops. And while this might be impossible, using solar power is more obtainable. We love this simple Renogy Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit. You can charge your panels all day and run a small heater at night.
While this method isn’t cost-effective, it is a way to keep your flock warm without extension cords. And it saves money on your electricity bills.
#9 Covering Walkways
Chickens hate walking through the snow. It’s cold and wet, and since their feet are bare, it chills them to the core. To keep chickens warm during the day, you could put a layer of straw on fresh snow.
Next, you need to insulate your coop-but not too much. Your coop will need a nice layer of insulation on the inside without preventing ventilation. You can use any insulation that works best for you. There are various DIY versions, or you can hire a company to do it for you.
Some owners find that even adding a layer of straw bales inside of the coop helps insulate enough. And since it is easily removed, you can use it for compost come spring.
#11 Winter Chicken Dishes
One of the most bothersome parts of winter is freezing water. One of our tips to keep chickens warm without electricity is an insulated waterer. You can make a winter chicken waterer with simple rags and an old tire.
First, you will need to dig a hole large enough for the tire. Then after you put the tire in the ground, fill it with rags and thick towels. Finally, nestle your waterer into the ground with the towels. This cheap and easy hack keeps your water from freezing within hours of putting it outside.
#12 Cozy Up Your Nesting Boxes
A big problem most of us have is that our eggs freeze in the winter. And if you have ever eaten a defrosted egg, you know they are not the best. So how do we prevent this? Cozy them up!
Adding extra bedding to the nesting boxes is one way to insulate your eggs. You can even replace your old boxes with a covered nesting box to trap in the heat. But if this isn’t a reasonable replacement, you might want to consider decorating.
We aren’t talking about painting the walls. We are suggesting hanging some curtains. Curtains in front of your nesting boxes trap in the heat of your hens and get them all cozy. You will never have to worry about frozen eggs again.
#13 Closing Off Part Of Coop
Another handy tip for your winter chickens is to close part of it off. If your coop is large, making it smaller helps your hen’s body heat naturally warm the room. You can close it off by using simple plywood and a nail gun. That way, you can take it down quickly in the spring.
If your coop isn’t permanent, you might consider moving it. Keeping your coop out of high winds prevents unnecessary drafts. But you can also position it to where your coop’s windows are in the sunlight. Protecting your coop from all possible weather is the best way to keep your hens warm.
#15 Greenhouse Run
You don’t want your chickens to feel cooped up all winter. No pun intended. To solve this problem, you can buy sheets of clear polycarbonate to put over your run frame. These panels are durable, so with the proper care, they can last a few years.
But it can get rather expensive for larger coops, but the payoff is worth it. Your hens will gladly run free and get exercise to fight off the winter blues. If your climate isn’t too cold, you could even try growing a winter garden for foraging.
#16 Winter Chicken Coop
If you live in frigid climates, you might consider building a winter chicken coop. These coops take the best of all these tips to keep your chickens happy. They have plenty of ventilation and insulation. These coops are smaller to trap in your flock’s body heat. And they have protective panels to keep the cold out.
You can find your perfect winter chicken coop design online for free. If you are creative, you can combine .all the winter chicken coop ideas for the right fit. Even if you aren’t the crafty type, there are plenty of winter coops for sale that are of excellent quality.
Snug As A Bug In A Rug!
Your chickens are more adapted for winter than we think. But it never hurts to go that extra mile to keep them safe and snug. With these tips to keep chickens warm without electricity, you can rest easy. They won’t even notice the wintry nip of Jack Frost outside anymore. What advice do you have for keeping your flock warm all winter? We’d love to hear from you!
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!