It has been extremely cold recently. Well, not below zero, but 5 degrees a couple nights in a row. To me, that is cold! If you have been following along with my chicken journey, you would know my biggest concern is what to do with them during the winter. Is it too cold to let them out? Do they like snow? Do I need to keep a heat lamp in their coop?
I have been researching for months it seems on all of these questions. My problem has been that there are always two answers for all of my questions. So instead I am trying to figure it out on my own. What works for my specific chickens?
We do not have access to an outside outlet. What that means is that we are not heating our chicken coop, nor are we keeping a water warming plate. After that first really cold night I was definitely concerned that I would find frozen chickens when I went out to the coop. Surprisingly, they were happy as can be, jumped out of the coop and ran for whatever grass they could find. Their water had turned icy, but wasn’t frozen completely solid. I filled up another container with fresh water and left it outside their coop for the day, since they were running around, and they were happy and stayed outside (in 18 degree weather) all day long.
What does this mean? Well, I think it means that my chickens are a bit heartier than I had previously thought. I think they have acclimated to the cold weather. A benefit of not having a heat lamp out for them at all. I am really happy with how well they seem to be doing. We are still averaging 6-7 eggs each day. I always have 5 or 6 eggs from the white chickens. The araucanas lay an egg every other day it seems, so not as good on the laying front, but they are still fun to have around.
I know that when we get into January it is going to be a lot colder here for longer periods of time, but the fact that they have been doing so well right now, I have confidence they will be fine. I hope that we will get enough snow to keep the coop insulated from the outside, and I plan to keep fresh pine shavings in their coop to keep them comfortable. We have had a bit of snow, which always seems to melt away, but when it is snowing they are out digging in it and having a good time. I think I lucked out with chickens who actually like the cold climate I live in!
Do your chickens like the cold? Do they dig in the snow too?