It’s a freezing winter’s night, and you are huddled under the duvet worrying about
the chickens. Will they be warm enough?
Fortunately chickens are more tolerant
of cold than heat - a scorching summer
can cause them more distress than a
frosty winter. Their body temperature is
between 40-42C, and they are already
wearing their own duvets! At night they
fluff out their feathers to trap air
between the layers, and provided their
house is properly stocked, can generate
enough heat to keep each other warm.
Hardy though they are, chickens can be
badly affected by damp, draughts and
poor ventilation, all of which can be
avoided. Attending to a few matters
before winter begins will make life
easier for you, and better for your
Anne Perdeaux
Shelter from the storm
Ideally your henhouse should be on well-drained ground, with the pop-holes shielded from the
prevailing wind. If there is no thick hedge or fence to form a natural windbreak, a few straw bales
will provide some protection - and the chickens will enjoy playing on them too!
Chickens don’t always go into the henhouse in bad weather – sometimes the lower ranks are kept out
by their superiors – so make sure there is enough shelter for everyone.
A raised henhouse also provides useful cover, or you could consider roofing part of the run.
Relocating chickens for winter
If the ground is likely to become very wet, it would
be better to move the chickens to a hard surface. A
thick covering of hardwood chips (not bark)
provides ideal scratching material, which is
relatively easy to keep clean. A large shed or
outbuilding could also be adapted to provide dry
winter quarters.
Wet conditions are particularly unpleasant for
heavily feathered chickens with short legs (such as
Orpingtons), or for breeds with feathered legs and
feet. Mud can cause problems with foot feathers.
A raised henhouse provides useful cover
Pekin Cockerel