Yesterday we were under winter storm warnings around here, and tonight we have our first windchill warning. This is the time many folks worry about their new flock of chickens and winter temperatures. Chickens are like other livestock, given proper shelter, water and food they will do just fine.
I am not an advocate of supplemental heating for your chickens. My reasons are as follows:
- They don’t need it. Like other animals they will acclimate if you allow them to do so.
- Chickens don’t need or behave best if they have 24 hours of light.
- Fire! Especially heat lamps.
- Why waste money? A small light doesn’t cost much, but every penny counts.
- If you have a proper size coop for your flock it will be warm enough. In places where you get a bitter cold winter some insulation may be in order as well. It is important that any drafty cracks and corners be taken care of too.
I keep their feeders full of layer pellets. I supplement them with produce scraps, because they are use to free range the rest of the year.
I do use heated water dishes because all animals need access to lots of fresh water. It makes it easier for me to keep drinkable water available to them. Before I used a heated dish, it took many visits to the coop with hot water and a hammer.