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Can Chickens Survive Winter?

Can Chickens Survive Winter?

There is a lot of information out there on whether chickens can survive winter. Some people say that they definitely can, while others insist that it’s not worth the risk. So, what’s the truth? In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about keeping your chickens alive during the cold winter months. We will discuss what you can do to make sure they are comfortable and safe, as well as some tips on how to prepare for the worst. Let’s get started!

Is it Possible to Keep Chickens During Winter

Chickens are a type of domesticated bird kept as poultry for both their meat and eggs.

They are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. Chickens come in many different breeds with varying characteristics such as size, color, shape, and egg production.

Chickens require a consistent source of food, water and shelter. Different breeds have different needs when it comes to housing; some breeds may need more space than others, or be more prone to certain health issues. It’s important for chicken owners to do their research before buying a breed so that they can provide the best care possible.

Is it Possible to Keep Chickens During Winter

One question that is often asked by those considering keeping chickens is: can chickens survive winter? The answer to this question depends on several factors but usually is yes!

The ideal temperature for chicks is around 95 degrees Fahrenheit, but they can survive colder temperatures. Chickens have a plumage, or “down,” that helps them to stay warm in cold temperatures. They also shiver and fluff up their feathers to create a layer of air around themselves that helps insulate them from the cold. What also helps chickens to stay warm is their high metabolic rate, which enables them to generate heat and maintain a relatively high body temperature of up to 105-109F!

The breed of the chicken, its housing situation and weather conditions all play a role in whether or not it will be able to survive the coldest months of the year. Generally speaking, as long as your chicken has access to adequate shelter and food, it should be able to withstand winter temperatures with no problem. [1], [2], [3]

How to Keep Chickens During Winter

To ensure chickens can survive through winter, it is important to provide them with the right kind of environment and care. In this section we will discuss tips that will help you keep your chickens warm and healthy during the cold winter months.

Winterize the coop and run

The first step in keeping chickens during winter is to make sure that their coop and run are well insulated. Here are some tips to winterize your chicken coop:

  • Insulate the walls of the coop: Adding insulation to your chicken coop is one of the most important steps you can take to keep them warm in the winter. The insulation should be placed against both inside and outside walls as well as roofs, windows and doors. If you have ventilation openings, use mesh wire covers instead of solid materials such as wood or plastic so that air can still circulate while keeping out drafts.
  • Pile up bedding material: Provide plenty of soft, dry bedding for your chickens’ roosts. This will help them stay warm and comfy in the winter months, and it’s an excellent way to keep their feet off of cold metal or plastic surfaces.
  • Install a heated water bowl: Chickens need access to fresh drinking water at all times, so make sure they have a sturdy basin filled with clean, unfrozen water on which they can drink throughout the day. If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing regularly, you may want to consider investing in a heated waterer.
  • Place draft guards over windows and doors: Make sure that all openings are sealed properly and that there are no gaps or cracks around windows or doors that could let cold air into the coop. The use of draft guards along with caulking will help keep drafts out. Using tar paper or plastic sheeting on the outside of windows and doors will help further keep out drafts.
  • Replace or repair broken nesting boxes: Chickens are sensitive to cold, so make sure that all of their nesting boxes are in good condition to provide them with a warm, safe place to lay eggs during the winter months. If any of your nesting boxes need repairs, do it now before temperatures drop too low.

Don’t forget about the run as well! If your chickens have access to an outdoor run, make sure it is insulated as well and that there are no drafts coming in. Repair fences and perches in order to make your coop safer too.

How to Keep Chickens During Winter

Ensure proper ventilation

Another important aspect of keeping chickens during winter is proper ventilation. Chickens need fresh air and adequate space to prevent the build-up of ammonia, which can be toxic to them. Make sure your coop has windows and vents that are open during the day so they can get plenty of fresh air.

The humidity in a poor ventilated coop can also cause frostbite or other health problems. Make sure the ventilation system is working properly and that the chickens are getting enough fresh air.

Create a deepened bedding

It is important to create a deepened bedding area for your chickens. The extra layer of insulation provided by the bedding material will help them keep warm even in the coldest temperatures. Make sure the bedding is dry and use a mixture of straw, hay or wood shavings to insulate the coop from drafts and provide your birds with warmth.

Make sure you have a lot of space

Chickens need a lot of space, especially during the winter. A small coop or run will not provide enough room for them to move around and generate heat. Having enough space is especially important if you live in an area with cold winters, as chickens can experience frostbite on their combs and wattles which may lead to infection or death.

Make sure your coop is large enough that your chickens have plenty of room to roam and stay active even in the coldest temperatures. If possible, your coop should also be insulated to help keep warmth inside.

How to Keep Chickens During Winter

Install outdoor perches

When chickens are on the ground during winter, they can lose heat quickly due to contact with cold snow or ice. Installing outdoor perches gives them an elevated place to roost and get away from the cold ground. It is important that the perches be at least two feet above the ground so the chickens don’t feel drafty winds coming up from below.

Installing perches will help your chickens to stay warm during the night and also allows them to keep an eye out for predators. Adding outdoor perches is a fairly simple process and will provide your chickens with extra protection from the elements.

Add more lighting

Adding extra lighting in the coop can help chickens stay warmer. Extra hours of sunlight in the winter months can be helpful for chickens’ overall health and well-being, but if your coop is not getting enough natural light, you may need to install a few low-wattage bulbs or LED lights inside the coop so that they get the benefit of the artificial daylight too.

Additionally, make sure that the wattage of the light bulb is suitable for your specific breed of chickens, as some breeds may require more or less heat than others.

How to Keep Chickens During Winter

Provide them with an area to peck

Providing chickens with an area to peck and scratch is important for their mental and physical stimulation. Adding a dust bath or pecking box filled with sand, dirt or wood shavings will give them something to do during the winter months.

Additionally as we mentioned, providing your chickens with hay bales or other materials they can pick through will not only keep them entertained but also provide them with some much-needed insulation from the cold weather.

Protect chickens’ comb

The comb, or the red fleshy bit on top of a chicken’s head, is particularly susceptible to frostbite during winter months. To prevent this from happening it is important to ensure that your chickens have the right type of shelter.

Provide adequate protection for your chickens against cold temperatures by ensuring their coop has good insulation.

Applying Vaseline to combs before bedtime also helps protect them against frostbite. It serves as a barrier between the skin and air, trapping in warmth and moisture so that the combs remain soft and supple even in cold temperatures.

How to Keep Chickens During Winter

Provide proper nutrition

Chickens need a balanced diet for optimal health and survival during winter months. During colder weather, chickens require more energy to maintain their body temperature so it is important to provide them with a nutrient-rich food source.

Feeding your chickens a diet high in protein helps keep them warm and energized. Protein-rich foods can be fed to your flock during the winter months. Additionally, providing extra calcium rich treats like crushed eggshells will help ensure your chickens have strong bones and enough energy to stay warm.

Oatmeals, cracked corn and other grains will also provide chickens with a source of energy during the winter months.

Providing treats to your flock on a daily basis will help them stay healthy and survive cold temperatures.

It is also important to provide a consistent source of freshwater for your chickens. During winter, water can freeze easily, so make sure to provide them with heated waterers so that they can stay hydrated. Cleaning out frozen and dirty waterers frequently is important for your chickens’ health and survival.

Avoid installing heaters

Heaters can be dangerous to both chickens and their owners. The biggest danger is that they pose a risk of fire due to malfunctioning or improper installation. Additionally, excessive heat can cause moisture buildup which can lead to respiratory problems in chickens. Furthermore, the presence of a heater will draw more wildlife than usual into the coop—wildlife that may bring diseases and parasites into the area, risking your flock’s health.

Your chickens may also be overwhelmed by the heat and refuse to leave the coop, as it is their natural instinct to seek out warmth. This can lead to a decrease in activity, which can cause further health problems for your chickens.

While you can use water heaters designed for outdoor usage, it is best to avoid adding any additional heat sources to your coop if possible. If you do decide to install a heater, make sure that you use proper safety protocols and have the system inspected regularly by a certified professional. Always keep an eye on the temperature in the coop and adjust accordingly.

How to Keep Chickens During Winter

Bring soaked chickens to the inside

The other important step to consider to keep chickens warm during the cold months is to bring them into the house when they get soaked if possible. This will provide a warmer and more comfortable environment for them to stay in, as well as reduce their exposure to the elements. If you have enough space inside your home, consider setting up a separate area or chicken coop that can be used just for your chickens. [1], [2], [3]


Will chickens lay eggs in the winter?

Chickens will usually lay fewer eggs in the winter due to shorter days, less food, and colder temperatures. However, some chickens may still lay a few eggs during this time. To help your chickens keep laying in the winter, it is important to provide them with extra calcium, plenty of fresh water, and a safe space to sleep. Providing them with supplemental light can also help stimulate egg production.

It is important to note that some breeds of chicken are more likely than others to continue producing eggs during the winter months. Some breeds are more hardy than others and have been bred specifically for cold weather performance.

What temperature is too cold for chickens?

The temperature that is too cold for chickens will depend on the breed, as some are more hardy than others.

Generally speaking, chickens can withstand temperatures down to -13°F. However, if the temperature drops below this there is a risk of frostbite and hypothermia which could be fatal.

To ensure your chickens stay safe in freezing temperatures, it’s best to provide additional protection such as an insulated coop.

Additionally, make sure that their bedding is kept dry and draft-free. Wet bedding materials can quickly chill a chicken, leading to health issues such as frostbite and even death from prolonged exposure to extreme cold. In addition to providing extra warmth!

Can chickens sleep outside in the cold?

If chickens are fully grown and healthy, they can indeed survive outside in the cold if the temps aren’t freezing. However, it is important to provide them with adequate shelter and protection from the elements. A sturdy coop will help keep your chickens warm, dry, and safe from predators. Additionally, adding insulation to their coop can help them better retain body heat during cold winter nights. If you do decide to allow your chickens to sleep outdoors in the cold weather, remember that you should check on them regularly throughout the day and night for signs of distress or discomfort.

What do you do with chickens in the winter?

In the winter, it’s important to provide your chickens with a safe and comfortable environment in order to keep them healthy and happy. Chickens need access to food, clean water, shelter from the elements, and protection from predators.

You should begin by making sure that your coop is well-insulated with straw bedding for warmth. Make sure your chickens have enough space to move around and spread out their feathers for insulation. You will also want to make sure that their run has some form of wind protection or a roof so they can still get outside during cold weather days.

How long can chickens stay in the cold?

Chickens can stay in the cold for quite a long time, but it depends on how cold it is and what kind of environment they are in. Generally speaking, chickens will do well in temperatures that range from 95 F. In these temperatures, provided they have access to food and water, as well as shelter or some kind of insulation like straw bedding or hay bales, chickens should be able to survive quite comfortably.

In colder temperatures around -13ºF, chickens may not fare so well. At this temperature, their combs and wattles can freeze and cause them considerable discomfort. While chickens can fluff their feathers to keep warm, they can’t do this indefinitely and you will need to provide them with some kind of shelter or heated structure to keep them safe.

Useful Video: Chickens And Cold or Freezing Temperatures


Chickens are curious creatures that are one of the most common of all domesticated animals. They are hardy and resilient since they have a natural ability to puff up in cold weather, have downy feathers, and can create their own body heat. But winter can be a challenge, especially in colder climates. However, with proper housing and care, chickens can survive the coldest of winters.

Many chicken owners take extra steps to ensure their birds remain safe during winter. Adding insulation or keeping chickens warm by rubbing their bellies with petroleum jelly are two common methods used to keep chickens comfortable during cooler months. It is also important to increase food intake for chickens in colder climates, as well as ensure plenty of clean water is provided so that they stay hydrated throughout the season.

In addition, you should prepare your coop for winter beforehand and make sure that all gaps there are sealed to keep the cold air out. Additionally, make sure that the airstream is not blocked in any way to allow for proper ventilation and check regularly if there are any signs of frostbite or respiratory infections.

Giving them extra food and water is essential, as well as providing additional bedding material for insulation. With regular cleaning of their coop and vigilant observation for signs of frostbite or illness, your chickens should be able to make it through the cold winter months! So don’t worry – you can rest assured knowing your precious flock will be safe during the long, chilly season ahead. Thanks for reading our guide – we hope it was helpful! Happy chicken keeping!


  1. https://coldspringcoop.com/blog/67435/caring-for-backyard-chickens-in-winter
  2. https://www.thehappychickencoop.com/how-cold-is-too-cold-for-my-chickens/
  3. https://khpet.com/blogs/farm/what-temperature-is-too-cold-for-chickens