If you are new to chickens, and live in a northern climate, you may be wondering what you need to do to get ready for the approaching winter months. What many people don’t realize is that most breeds of chicken are actually quite tolerant to the cold.

If your chickens have been exposed to the changes in weather up to this point, you really don’t have to make any other preparations.  They’ve acclimated to the cold climate and will do fine.  You may need to deal with frozen water dispensers.  There are heaters for that or you can provide a small light directly above the water dispenser to keep it from freezing. All chickens need is a healthy diet, fresh water daily, and shelter to get out of the elements

Egg production slows appreciably during the winter months due to the reduced amount of daylight. Adding 2 to 3 hours of artificial light inside the coop each day will stimulate the hens to increase egg production. Smaller flocks do need a source of heat in the winter to keep from getting too cold. Keeping the coop just above 32F usually work well.  

Some type of litter should be used in the coop such as straw. This will help keep their feet off the frozen ground while they scratch around during the day.

If snow accumulates in the chicken yard, make sure it is shoveled out so birds can walk around without sinking in the snow. They will go into the yard during the day if a door is opened in the coop from which they can come and go.

If you follow these simple guidelines, your poultry will get through the cold winter months just fine. For more information and ideas on many different chicken coops, visit Chicken DIY Guides. Good luck!