It’s that time of year again when it’s a race to get to the chicken coop to find eggs before they freeze. Finding cracked, frozen eggs when egg production is already low is one of the most frustrating things about keeping chickens in the winter.
Luckily there are a few things that will help keep eggs from freezing quite so quickly! Here are five things you can do to slow down how quickly eggs will freeze in the chicken coop.
- First, make sure your chicken coop is well insulated. Keeping the coop draft-free is key to happier chickens in the winter. You might not heat the coop but keeping it free from drafts is really important. We’ve tried all sorts of things to keep our keep warmer in the winter including added lots of straw, using the deep litter method, and reducing the size of the coop. If you’re looking for ways to keep your chickens warmer in the winter without using electricity, you can read more about the methods that have worked for us here.
- Next, consider the location of your nesting boxes. If they are exposed to the elements, you might want to insulate the boxes from the outside to help keep them warmer during winter. You can do this by wrapping them in dark plastic, stacking straw bales around them, or even putting sheets of insulation around them from the outside. If you can move your nesting boxes around, try to place them on the warmest wall of your coop.
- Another thing you can do is bump up the insulation value of your nesting boxes by adding extra straw. If you normally use shavings in the nesting boxes, it might be a good idea to switch to straw in the winter. Straw has better insulative properties and will be better protection for your eggs in the winter.
- Curtains can also help. I have previously scoffed at nesting box curtains as being unnecessary, but they do add another layer of warmth in the winter. So, consider hanging curtains over your nesting boxes. Not only are curtains cute, but they do help keep the boxes just a little bit warmer.
- Don’t be quick to kick chickens out of the nesting boxes. Sometimes, our chickens just hang out in the boxes. Maybe they’re trying to decide if they want to go broody? While chickens don’t normally go broody in the winter, heat from the chicken’s body on the eggs in the nesting boxes is a great way to keep them warm!
Despite all these precautions, sometimes there is just nothing that can prevent eggs from freezing on brutally cold days. As long as the frozen eggs aren’t cracked, it is safe for your family to eat them. Food safety experts caution against eating frozen eggs that have been cracked because of the potential for bacteria to enter the egg. Instead of throwing out cracked eggs though, we’ve learned that our chickens enjoy a warm scrambled egg treat from time to time in the winter.
What do you do in the winter to keep eggs from freezing in the coop?