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8 Winter Chicken Products We Couldn’t Live Without

Winter can be a challenging time for backyard chicken keepers. As temperatures drop and snow blankets the ground, it’s essential to ensure the well-being of your feathered friends.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the 8 things you need in order to successfully raise chickens in winter. From keeping them warm to ensuring their water doesn’t freeze, we’ve got you covered.

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1. A Cozy Coop: Providing a Warm Shelter with Insulation

The first thing we couldn’t live without in harsh winters is a warm, cozy chicken coop, complete with insulation.

This is actually the single most essential winter prep you need to do, and it’s worth investing good money and time into a top notch coop. Keeping your chickens warm and comfortable during the winter is crucial for their health and egg production.

There are several simple ways to make sure your coop is warm enough in the winter. The first is putting in insulation.

Insulation will protect your coop from the harsh winds and biting cold outside. We highly suggest hiring a professional to install spray foam insulation in the walls and then covering the foam with plywood to make sure the chickens can’t eat it.

If you’d rather not go to all that trouble, you can try cheaper ways to insulate your coop. Lining the walls with bales of straw can help to insulate the inside, though it’s not a perfect solution and if the straw gets wet, it will mold.

You can also line the walls with old wool blankets to help keep the heat inside.

2. Soft, Warm Bedding: A Comfy Nest

The right bedding can make a world of difference in your chickens’ winter comfort.

Some types of bedding are better than others, and some will help keep your chickens warmer during winter.

The worst types of bedding/litter for winter:

These types of bedding can make your chicken coop feel colder, are not cozy nesting material for the hens, or can cause respiratory issues, as with cedar shavings.

  • Sand
  • Pellet litter
  • Leaves
  • Dirt
  • Cedar shavings

The best types of winter bedding/litter

This bedding is all soft and cozy, providing warmth and comfort. It’s excellent for chickens to snuggle into when they’re laying eggs, and comfortable and warm on their feet while they’re walking around.

This bedding is super absorbent as well, which is so important in winter, you don’t want wet droppings hanging around and making more moisture in the coop.

3. Winter Feed & Treats: Proper Nutrition

Winter diets need a bit of adjustment to keep your chickens healthy and laying eggs. Chickens naturally eat more in the fall and winter to put on a little insulation in the form of fat.

We like to increase the calories for the flock just a little bit in the late fall and winter. Not enough to make them obese, because that leads to other health issues, just enough to keep them comfortable.

We give extra treats in the winter, which not only gives them extra calories, but gives them something to do, which you’ll see is very important.

We have a whole post on winter chicken treats to help you: Hearty Winter Chicken Feed Ideas.

Best winter treats for chickens:

On very cold days I like to make warm oatmeal for the birds. You can make a super simple oatmeal by mixing equal parts cooking oats and water on the stovetop and simmering until the water absorbs. If you want to be extra fancy, you can add cut up fruit to the oatmeal. Your chickens will love you for it!

4. A System to Keep Water Unfrozen

Constant access to fresh, clean water is essential for your flock’s health. This can be surprisingly difficult to maintain in the winter.

If you have managed to properly insulate your coop as mentioned above, your water should stay un-frozen for longer than if you don’t have an insulated coop.

Either way, it’s a good idea to have a heated water fount for the chickens so you know for sure their water is always available.

If it’s not possible to do this due to electrical issues, you can rotate water founts throughout the day.

We used to keep one fount in the house, and bring it out in the early morning when the girls were just waking up for the day. Then we’d bring the frozen fount that had been sitting out all night into the house to thaw. Once the water out in the coop started to freeze again, we’d bring the thawed fount back out and switch again.

This worked well in moderately cold weather, but on bitterly cold days the water would freeze in just a few hours and we’d have to switch more frequently, which meant running hot water over the fount to thaw it quicker.

This system is a total pain, but it does work if you can’t get a heated water fount.

5. Boredom Busters: Combatting Cabin Fever

Chickens, like us, can get a bit stir-crazy in the winter. They’re quite literally cooped up all day and night, with nothing to do but walk around.

Boredom from having nothing to do can lead your chickens to pick on each other, sometimes the bullying can get so bad that chickens become injured or isolate themselves from the flock, which is especially dangerous in winter, when they need the body heat of other hens at night to keep warm.

Make sure your chickens always have something to do everyday if they can’t go outside into the run or out to free range.

We have a whole article on tips for eliminating boredom in chickens here: 12 Tips to Eliminate Boredom in Chickens.

Tips for keeping your chickens entertained in winter

  • Flock Block– Get one of these per month for easy entertainment and nutrition.
  • Chicken Scratch– sprinkle it on the floor of the coop everyday
  • Straw bales- Just set them into the coop and chickens will go wild digging through them for seeds.
  • Chicken treat ball– Put a head of lettuce or cabbage in these balls and they’re entertain your chickens for hours.

6. Tools to Prevent Predators

Winter doesn’t deter hungry predators looking for an easy meal. In fact, winter might make some predators even more hungry and desperate for food, as it can be a time of slim pickings for hunting and scavenging food.

It’s more important than ever to lock your coop up tight in the winter and keep your chickens safe.

Securing your coop: Extra precautions

Predators are extremely clever and can decimate your whole flock in just one night. The worst predators are minks and fishers, who kill mostly for the fun of it and can knock out several birds in a short period of time.

To keep predators out of your coop, you have to think like them. Some predators climb, others dig, others still can figure out how to open doors and windows, so you need to be prepared for all sorts of attacks.

These are the basic recommendations for keeping your chicken coop safe from predators, but we also have a very in depth article on this topic here: 24 Features of a Predator Proof Chicken Coop.

How to predator proof your chicken coop:

  • Line the floor of the coop with hardware cloth to keep out digging predators.
  • Ensure windows and doors can lock tightly.
  • Use spring loaded locks if possible, raccoons can open many other types of locks with their hands.
  • Make sure your coop is tip-proof. Large predators like bears can easily knock over smaller coops.

7. Emergency Supplies: Be Ready for Storms and Harsh Weather

Winter storms affect your chickens just as much as they do you, if not even more! Imagine having to live outside during a blizzard or ice storm?

It’s up to you to be totally and utterly prepared for winter storms, well in advance of when they come.

First aid kit

You just never know when an emergency is going to strike, and it’s good to always be prepared, but especially so in winter! Winter storms can mean you can’t easily leave the house to get to the vet or the farm store to pick up supplies. Having basic medical supplies on hand is a must.


If you live in a place with snow, I’m sure you already have a snow shovel, but just in case you don’t, get one before winter hits! We’ve had several instances where we got so much snow so quickly that we had to dig a path to the coop and shovel out the door to get in. Have it handy and ready in case you need it!

Ice melters

There’s nothing quite like going out to the chicken coop on a bitterly cold day, only to find the door or lock frozen shut! This has happened to us several times and it’s a total pain. Having some ice melters available in case you need them is a great idea.

Back up indoor coop

If you live in an area that doesn’t have harsh winters but has occassional extreme cold snaps, you may want to consider having a space in your home, porch, or garage where you can move your chickens in advance of severe weather.

Sick ward

We always kept a big rabbit cage in the house in the winter just in case we had a chicken fall ill or need some extra TLC. This is a good idea no matter the season, but especially helpful in winter, when chickens can succumb to illness so much quicker. Having a place set up for sick chickens means a lot less stress on them and on you in an emergency.

We’ve known several chicken keepers whose chickens got hypothermia or frostbite in the winter and needed time indoors to recover. It’s really such a nice thing to have a space already set up for these emergencies.

Backup power

Having a generator or other form of backup power is only super necessary if you have heat in your chicken coop. We don’t suggest heating the coop, and this is one of the biggest reasons. If your electricity suddenly goes out, the chickens are plunged into the bitter cold and their bodies aren’t accustomed to it, which can quickly lead to hypothermia and death.

If you do insist on heating the chicken coop, having a backup form of power is essential so you can keep that heater running even if you lose power.

Raising chickens in the winter might require a bit more effort, but with the right tools and knowledge, you can keep your feathered friends happy and healthy all season long. From insulating your coop to providing proper nutrition, these 12 essentials will make winter chicken care a breeze.

8. Supplies to Keep YOU Warm, Safe, and Comfortable

Your chickens aren’t the only ones who can suffer in winter, you also need to take care of yourself. After all, if you’re not well, how can you take good care of your flock?

A snow blower or snow shovel

You may need to clear snow away in order to get to the chicken coop, and in times of bad blizzards, you may need to clear A LOT of snow.

Snow blowers come in handy here, you can use them just fine on the lawn, just be sure you know there’s nothing on the lawn that could get caught in them!

If you don’t have a blower, make absolutely sure you have a snow shovel handy before winter hits.

I’ll never forget the time my shovel broke while I was trying to carve out a path to the chicken coop and we didn’t have a back up. The snow was several feet deep, and even though I didn’t have the tools to easily get to the coop, I still had to go take care of the chickens!

I waded my way very slowly through the snow, and had to use random tools from the garage to carve snow out from around the door.

Learn from my mistake! Have a good shovel, and a backup shovel at the ready before the snow hits!

Gloves or Mittens

In bitterly cold weather, frostbite can set in very fast. Make sure you’re always protecting your hands in cold weather.

Hand warmers

Speaking of hands, hand warmers are a nice to have winter item, but not truly necessary. Going out to the coop in the bitter cold can be rough on your hands, sticking some of these in your pockets can make a tough chore that much easier.

A Warm Coat

A down jacket or coat is your best friend in the winter! I absolutely live by Eddie Bauer coats and jackets. They’re very high quality and I love that each one has a rating for which temperatures they’re right for. I highly recommend them!

No matter where you get a coat though, do make sure you have one well before the cold hits. And make sure it has big enough pockets for carrying eggs!

FAQ: Your Winter Chicken Questions Answered

Q1: How can I prevent my chicken’s water from freezing?

  • A: You can use heated waterers, add warm water regularly, or switch out the water founts several times a day.

Q2: What are the best winter chicken products?

  • A: Look for heated water fount bases, cozy bedding, flock blocks, and other ways to entertain your chickens.

Q3: Do I need to heat my chicken coop in the winter?

  • A: We don’t advocate for heating the chicken coop, it’s very dangerous and almost never necessary. Proper insulation and ventilation are often more effective and safer alternatives.

Q4: How can I tell if my chickens are too cold?

  • A: Watch for signs like shivering, drooping tail or head, or comb and wattle discoloration. Provide extra warmth if needed.

Q5: What’s the deep litter method, and how does it work?

  • A: The deep litter method involves regularly adding fresh bedding on top of old material, creating a warm and composting environment that reduces odors.

Q6: Can chickens wear coats?

  • A: No, never put coats or sweaters on your chickens, it inhibits their natural ability to keep warm by puffing up their feathers.

Q7: Are there any winter-specific chicken breeds?

Q8: How do I keep my chickens entertained during the winter?

  • A: Offer entertainment options like hanging treats, perches, flock blocks, straw bales, and even mirrors to keep your chickens active and engaged.

Q9: What should I do in case of a power outage during a winter storm?

  • A: Have a backup power source, like a generator, and a supply of essential items such as water, feed, and emergency heat lamps on hand.

Q10: Can I let my chickens free-range in the winter?

  • A: You can always offer for your chickens to free range in winter, but most won’t want to. You can encourage them to go outside by clearing snow and laying down straw on the ground.

With these answers to frequently asked questions, you’ll be well-equipped to care for your chickens throughout the winter season. Stay warm, and keep your feathered friends cozy!

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