How to Prepare Your Flock for Extreme Winter Weather

It’s almost the middle of December and here in southwest Minnesota, we still have no snow! Usually by now, we’re all singing “White Christmas” and wearing loads of winter gear out and about. While us Minnesotans are all enjoying this weather, we know what’s coming. The snow always comes and usually without much warning. We have lived through many blizzards, but each year it still takes us by surprise.

I was born and raised here and now we’re raising our family here. I love every season. But, there are certain things we do to prepare for winter, and preparing our coop and flock for this extreme weather is at the top of our to-do list every year.

One of the most asked questions by new backyard chicken keepers is,“Do I need to heat the coop when the cold weather sets in?” It usually comes to surprise to them when I say that we don’t heat our coop and I’ll tell you why.

Chickens are actually able to handle cold weather a lot better than hot weather. The reason for this is that they essentially have a built in winter jacket! Also, chickens don’t have sweat glands so hot summers are actually tougher on them.

Heating your coop can be tough because of the difference in temperatures going in and out. Chickens do better if they can remain in a similar temperature range as opposed to fluctuating temps.

And, lastly and probably most importantly, heat lamps are the largest cause of coop fires! I’ve read horrible stories of people losing their entire flock due to a heat lamp fire.

Our girls have withstood temps far below zero in their draft-free yet well insulated coop without a heat lamp. We also use the deep litter method which provides more insulation and warmth. We manage our deep litter with Coop Recuperate. It has been a total game changer for our girls. I can sit out there with them and walk out smelling like lemongrass and eucalyptus as opposed to chicken poop! If you want to learn more about the deep litter method, check out this short video below or my blog post on how I do it! Coop Recuperate is also available on Amazon now!

Extreme weather changes can be stressful for chickens. So, when a storm’s coming or while it’s here, I supplement our girls with Flock Fixer. Flock Fixer is a vitamin rich water additive that helps hydrate, restore vital nutrients and support immunity of your birds. It contains electrolytes, prebiotics, and probiotics. It gives your chickens everything they need to support their cute little selves in times of stress. And Minnesota blizzards can be pretty stressful! Flock Fixer is also now available on Amazon if you want to give it a try. I highly recommend!

Bottom line, I love knowing that our flock is getting all they need to thrive in the extremes. Our girls have survived 2 intense winters now and we’re thankful this one seems to be a bit more mild than usual. However it’s 2020, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised it’s a little different! Haha!

As always, but especially when the temps drop, you need to make sure that your chickens have fresh water that isn’t frozen as well as adequate food. I like to give my girls some scratch with cracked corn in the afternoon before bed. It helps keep their bodies working and helps keep them warm. These simple things can help keep your chickens comfortable and healthy even in the middle of a blizzard.

Come back next week to find out how we handle the stress of winter blizzards…we make Christmas cookies!

Until Next Time,

–The Wing Lady

Published by Annie

Annie Wing is the author of Strong Animals Chicken 101 blog. She is a busy mom with 3 active kids. Annie and her family reside on an acreage in the Redwood River Valley in Minnesota. She enjoys gardening and her absolute favorite pastime is doting on her 28 chickens!