Draft-free, dry and warm shelter, along with proper feeding and taking steps to prevent frostbite, are important when caring for pet chickens in winter. Chickens are especially prone to frostbite so perches and outdoor areas need to be designed to avoid this painful and potentially deadly condition. Upping food rations and adding supplements can help chickens stay warm. In particularly cold environments, where temperatures dip below freezing, coop heaters and water heaters may be needed to keep chickens healthy.
Keep the Hutch or coop draft-free. In autumn, check to be sure the hutch is free from drafts. Repair any holes and cracks.
Keep hay or straw bedding dry and clean. Check daily and remove and replace any damp or soiled bedding. Damp bedding can cause frostbite.
Cover the hutch floor with straw or hay. Keep the chickens' feet off cold ground to prevent frostbite by coating the hutch floor with insulation. Replace floor covering regularly to keep it dry and clean.
Replace metal perches. Metal perches will get too cold and can cause frostbite to the chickens' feet. Use wooden perches in cold climates.
Purchase a submersible water heater for existing waterers or bowls. Heated waterers are also available. Chickens need fresh, unfrozen water every two hours. If you don't provide a water heater, you will need to thaw water for them several times a day.
Install a hutch heater. Mount the heater high and be sure all wires are covered and out of reach of pecking chickens. Set the heater's thermostat to keep the temperature above 1.67 degrees Celsius.
Shovel snow from outside areas. Chickens should not walk around on snow. Shovel an area large enough for all your birds and keep it coated with hay or straw.
Coat the chickens' combs and wattles with petroleum jelly. Combs and wattles can become frostbitten if temperatures dip below freezing. A coating of petroleum jelly can prevent this.
Supplement regular chicken feed with scratch grain in winter. Birds need extra nutrition in the cold to keep body heat up.
Install a motion-activated LED light outside your coop. Predators are a bigger problem in winter when their food supplies are limited. Sentry lights sense predators from a distance and flash lights to scare them away.