We get the most questions about how to keep chicken in the winter months here in Canada. Many people find it hard to believe, but chickens are not only great in winter weather but they thrive in winter! Read on to find out what it's like keeping chickens in the winter. Our coops are used across Canada in all weather, from Northern Quebec and Alberta to the coasts and southern Ontario. Join a growing number of chicken keepers who love their Eglu coops.
Not only do they survive, but they thrive and lots of breeds still lay all winter. Most chickens available in Canada are very winter hardy breeds. Sex-links, Chanteclers, Orpingtons, Barred Plymouth Rocks and Ameraucana are a few breeds that eat snow storms for breakfast and ask for seconds!
Chickens naturally grow in extra feathers and put on body fat as the temperature drops in the fall just like wild birds that over winter in Canada. With the extra warmth on their bodies the only thing that can make them cold is draft. Any draft or breeze on a cold day will part your chicken's feathers exposing their skin and they'll start to feel the effects of winter.
Inside the coop
All Eglu coops offer draft free ventilation inside the coop. Fresh air is circulated into the coop through vents that stop the cool draft blowing directly on your chickens.
Keeping the air fresh in the coop is not only important in the warm months. During the winter, moisture from sleeping chickens can build up if air isn't circulated. This can be bad for their respiratory health.
In the run
The run section (the outdoor area) is open to the elements. To stop the elements from getting inside and to stop the draft blowing on your chickens, it's best to cover you run with clear covers. The clear covers allow sun light in while keeping snow and wind out. We have a great selection of covers for your Eglu coop. Click here to shop for covers.
Remember to not cover your run up too tight. Leaving air gaps near the top helps fresh air circulate in the run and remove moisture build ups.
Never heat a coop. Whether you have an Omlet coop or any other homemade or commercial coops. There are three HUGE problems with using a heat source.
If you're using a heat bulb, heater or pad, your chicken will be less likely to go outside of the coop to the run. They will start to become bored and may develop bad habits like pecking at each other. Pecking can be a tricky behaviour to correct without tackling the core issue, in this case, boredom.
The second problem is electricity. Your chickens will rely on the heat source to keep them warm and they won't naturally grow extra feathers and fat. When the power goes out (as it always does in winter) your chickens will freeze.
The last problem is one that haunts many chicken keepers: fire. Chickens get bored and peck bulbs, or heat sources that are near combustible materials like straw or shavings and before you know it, your coop is on fire.
When it comes to food, you will find your chickens consume more during the winter. They'll get less bugs and greens if you free-range them as the snow will cover over everything. Winter is a great time to offer treats like cabbage, black sunflower seeds and mealworms. These treats will not only keep them occupied and pecking, but it will also boost their energy and fat reserves.
Without fail, water freezes in winter. Two ways to avoid blocks of ice are changing the water frequently or using a deicer. Frequently changing the water can be quite a hassle and if you're at work during the day it's not really possible. We've found the Water Deicer for Omlet Waterers is the easiest solution. Plug it in to an extension cord and drop it in the Omlet waterer. Problem solved!
Many breeds of chickens will lay throughout the winter while some will either slow down or completely stop laying eggs. If your birds decide winter isn't a time they want to lay, let them have a break. Some people will add artificial lights to try and stimulate egg laying but most people just let their chickens take the break they want.
If left for too long your eggs will freeze and crack open. If you check a couple of times a day you'll find you'll collect eggs before they have a chance to freeze.
We get lots of customers who let us know after their first winter they were really impressed with how well the coop and chickens performed. Some have even told us they didn't initially believe us that chickens thrive in winter.
We know your chickens are going to love winter, even though you won't!
-Four Legs or Wings Staff
Want to place a phone order? Have a question about a product?
Call us toll free
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm EST
Four Legs or Wings Pets
228 Wildcat Rd
Toronto, ON M3J 2N5