Caring for Chickens in Winter

Photo by Sue Presley
Photo by Sue Presley

Healthy chickens are quite hardy in normal winter weather conditions, here are some tips to help keep them happy in winter:

  • Combs and wattles are susceptible to frost bite damage during freezing weather, smear with Vaseline to prevent this from happening.
  • Pieces of carpet or an old duvet on top of the hen-house roof will stop heat escaping. Avoid covering ventilation holes and make sure ventilation is above head height. Remove before the onset of spring to avoid harbouring red mite.
  • Check drinkers regularly during very cold weather, they’re likely to freeze quickly.
  • Feed warm wet mash in the morning, this can be done by mixing layers mash with slightly cooled boiled water into suitable bowls. I use large ceramic dog bowls. Check the temperature with your finger before feeding!
  • Feed a little mixed corn as an afternoon treat just before shutting your hens up for the night. Corn provides a boost of energy to help keep them warm on a cold winters night.
  • Spread an extra thick layer of straw or bedding on the coop floor, make sure the coop is clear of droppings and watertight.
  • Add Life-Guard to the drinking water, it’s a tonic and vitamin boost for chickens which is helpful during cold weather and the moult.
  • Be extra vigilant with foxes. They’re likely to be hungry during difficult weather conditions making chickens more at risk than normal, even during the day.
Photo by Linda Grier
Photo by Linda Grier

Thank you to Ex Battery Hens forum members, Sue Presley and Linda Grier for kind permission to use their photos.

14 thoughts on “Caring for Chickens in Winter

  1. Thanks for the tips, Karen. I just got my chicken quartet last fall and just found out they are afraid of snow! They were out one day when the snow started and we wound up getting about six inches. When it came time for them to go up, I found them in the crawl space under the house and they were afraid to come out. I finally caught them just before dark and was able to get them all safely in the coop. I hope they are a little braver when we get the next snow!


  2. I have NEVER had a hen willing to walk in the snow. Which is unfortunate since we live in New Hampshire here in chilly New England and snow is on the ground half the year.


  3. Thank you for this advice. This is the first winter I have kept chickens and I have been so worried about them. They usually range happily around the garden, but I have kept them in a run because the snow seemed so deep and I was worried about foxes. I have also been giving them warm water two or three times a day, which they really seem to enjoy. I bet they can’t wait for warmer weather – I know I can’t!


  4. thanks for this, one of mine was rather snow-quisitive the other two not so keen – had to help the rather nesh bluebell back to the run after she flew across the garen to the (snow cleared path then proceeded to stand on one leg whilst wondering how she was going to renegotiate the journey back! We are all thoroughly glad the snow has gone and spaghetti harvest can resume!


  5. I once had some hens who refused to leave the coop while there was snow on the ground. It was quite a challenge for me. :) It was like they were afraid of it. I ended up just moving their food and water into the coop hanging from hooks. It might not have been the best idea, but it worked until the snow melted enough that they saw there was still ground under all the white stuff and came out!


  6. Our hens have barely ventured outside today because of the heavy snow! Fed them some extra treats which tempted them out but I don’t blame them – I’d quite like to stay snuggled inside in a feather duvet too! Thanks for the tips, I will put these into practice during this current cold snap.


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