Winterizing your Chicken Coop

Chickens are resilient birds – and are pretty darn good at keeping themselves warm. But when the temperatures drop, there are a few things you can do to ensure the safety and comfort of your birds.

Murdoch’s teamed up with Growing up Montana (@Growing.up.montana) and their family of four on their ranch in the Bitterroot Valley to give you all the information you need to winterize your coop.

1. Food

Keeping your chickens’ feeder full and accessible throughout the winter is a necessity. This will ensure they have enough food to metabolize and keep their bodies warm, even in the harshest of winters.

The Little Giant Galvanized High-Capacity Poultry Feeder can store and dispense up to 25 pounds of mash, pellet or crumble feed. That should be enough to keep your chickens fat and happy for several days!

Chickens are not huge fans of the snow, so make sure to keep the feeder close to the coop in the winter months so that they don’t have to walk far. If you’ve got powder on the ground, consider clearing a walkway for them so they can comfortably access food and water.

2. Lighting

Ask yourself a few questions first:

  • Do chickens need additional lights?
  • Do they need a heating lamp? If so, should you use a red light or a white light?

In most cases, the answer to all those questions is no.

No, you do not need a heat lamp unless it’s going to be less than 15 degrees. And no, you do not need an extra white light unless your goal is to encourage more laying in the winter (link – keep chickens laying in the winter).

Evaluate your chicken goals and climate to make your decision. If adding lighting is the route you’d like to take, try these products:

Westinghouse – 125 Watt Red Heat Lamp Bulb

Westinghouse – 125 Watt Clear Lamp Bulb

3. Water

Chickens need water, and in the wintertime it’s no different.

Using a heated watering system like the Little Giant Double Wall Poultry Drinker and Little Giant Electric Heater Base attachment can help keep your chickens hydrated without the water freezing.

The heated base attaches to your poultry drinker and does not turn on unless it’s below 32 degrees.

4. Bedding

There are various methods when it comes to bedding in your chicken coop. Growing up Montana uses the “Deep Bedding Method.” Instead of cleaning out the coop, they continue to add dry matter throughout the winter.

When the chickens poop, a chemical reaction takes place within the bedding that causes heat. So, instead of stripping the bedding and cleaning it out every couple of weeks, Growing up Montana continues to add to its bedding to ensure an extra layer of warmth for the chickens.

Does that get you excited to scale back on your coop cleaning chores in the winter?!

If you see any moisture in the coop, though, you’ll need to do a clean out. Moisture or condensation buildup can keep the chickens from keeping themselves warm. To avoid moisture buildup in your coop, you will need proper ventilation.

5. Composting

Now you’ve got a winter’s-worth of bedding and chicken poop. What should you do with it? Don’t throw it out! This is great to use for composting.

Your chickens might not be laying in the winter, but they are still doing a job. You can thank them later when you harvest some delicious vegetables from your garden.


All products used in the video can be found at Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply.

Little Giant Galvanized High-Capacity Poultry Feeder

Westinghouse – 125 Watt Red Heat Lamp Bulb

Westinghouse – 125 Watt Clear Lamp Bulb

Little Giant Double Wall Poultry Drinker

Little Giant Electric Heater Base attachment