Chickens that can tolerate extreme cold are considered cold-hardy. The Dominique, Hamburg, Langshan, Sussex, and Wyandotte breedsĀ  are considered chill tolerant (even cold-hardy) but breeds such as Crevecoeur andĀ  Catalana are less tolerant of temperature extremes. So are Bantams and some breeds with large, single combs.



Small hen with double wattle

Small hen with a double comb



The chickens generate body heat that helps alleviate the cold temperature of a coop. They also wear feathered coats and will huddle together for warmth. A hen house that has insulation and perhaps a south-facing window that captures the warmth of a winter sun can also mitigate extreme cold.



Still, if you live in an area where the temps are below freezing, where it snows, and where the wind contributes to the chill, you might want to hang an ordinary light bulb (40-60 watts) or a 50-watt red bulb if you worry about frost-bitten chickens on those coldest nights.



Put that lamp on a timer. But beware of hanging any electric light that could get knocked down. It could set your coop on fire. And cold-tolerant breeds probably don’t need the extra heat anyway.



Bantam is a small breed; here, a rooster

A Bantam rooster struts his stuff



Perhaps equally, if not more, important are the chickens’ need for fresh water, ventilation, and a dry environment during winter. You don’t want the chickens roosting in a draft, but you do need ventilation in the coop, for example, via egg-access doors, windows, or ventilation holes with screens. They also need a dry environment.



If the coop isn’t insulated, you might stack bales of straw or hay along the walls and scatter pine shavings if your coop has an earthen floor that becomes cold or frozen.




This chicken house has egg access doors, a human door, a window, and is insulated

This chicken house has egg access doors, a human door, a window, and is insulated; the art is optional.



Cold-hardy chickens probably will make it through most frosty nights with few to no problems. Your best tool is your ability to observe your chickens for problems. Oh, and you might want to place a thermometer inside the coop for an accurate measurement about how cold it really gets when the ladies (and rooster, too) are all inside.



Don’t judge your chickens’ endurance for cold by your own.





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