Are there any special secrets to help my chickens stay warm in the winter?

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Secrets? No. Tricks? A few, maybe.

First of all, take a few moments to review the 8 things you SHOULDN'T do for your chickens in cold weather. You can read some more in the "related questions" below, too.

(Here is a hen happily foraging in below-freezing temps!)

You'd be surprised at how well chickens do in the cold when allowed to acclimate over time, with the changing seasons. That said, if you live in the mountains of Vermont or Colorado, or in bitter Minnesota or North Dakota where temps are regularly in the single digits, some folks like to help take the edge off with a low-wattage, infrared heater like our Sweeter Heater or Cozy Coop heater. They function not by significantly increasing the temperature inside your coop, but heating just the immediate surroundings.

Other than that, tricks? Well... try giving them a warm meal. Sound crazy? It only sounds that way if you don't have pet chickens, we assure you.

Of course, a hot meal or drink will only literally warm you up briefly. But when it's very bitter out, every little bit helps. And if birds are like humans--at least in this way--they will find it soothing. Perhaps it will reduce pecking order stress, the same way that, for humans, "a hot drink can even make you friendlier."

It's all speculation, of course, but the bottom line is that your chickens will enjoy the hot meals you cook for them. You can find some recipes in our blog post, 3 simple cold weather treats for your flock--and more in our book.

One caution, though: are you thinking about adding hot water to your flock's waterer? It seems like it would be a good idea but in a small or very airtight coop, it will add too much moisture to the air and can increase the risk of frostbite in cold weather. To avoid this, make sure their water is not actually steaming hot.

The other thing to do is to make sure to give your flock some extra calories; they burn calories in the winter trying to maintain their body heat... yet it gets dark sooner, so they have less time to eat. In the coldest weather, consider sparingly supplementing their regular feed with warm treats like porridge, cornbread, and suet cakes.