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How to Prepare your Chicken Coop for Winter

Preparing your chicken coop for winter is a vital part of keeping your flock healthy and happy over the cold season. Here’s how we keep our chicken coops comfy & cozy for our flock!


In the high desert of Idaho, we commonly get snow and frigid winter temps. But, what we don’t always get is a lot of snow all at once! But, this year, Mother Nature decided to surprise us all with a series of blustery snow storms!

So many people were completely caught off guard by these winter conditions. In fact, many people didn’t even own snow shovels and soon the stores shelves were completely empty of winter supplies!

Preparing for all the possibilities that winter can bring is an important part of homesteading and animal care. While we can never be 100% prepared for the surprises that Mother Nature brings, we can take small steps to ensure that our chickens and other livestock stayed healthy and happy during the ongoing storms.

I’ve created this 4 part mini-series to share aaaalllll of my tips and tricks to keep your backyard chickens happy and healthy this winter! 

Woman pulling sled through the snow with bags of animal feed loaded on it.

Today’s post is all about chicken coops! I’m sharing my top three tips for making sure that your chickens have a safe, warm coop to call home this winter!

Be sure to check out the other posts in the Winter Chicken Care series, too!


Winter Chicken Coop Tip #1: Create a “grazing area” for your chickens

3 pictures showing snow shoveled away from chicken coop and chickens pecking the grass

If you want to know what I have been doing the past two weeks, the answer is “shoveling.” All the shoveling, all the time! I’m running out of places to pile the shoveled snow at this point!

But the best thing that I did for my chickens during the snowy weather was to clear the snow away from ground in a small area surrounding their coop. My chickens are free-range and have constant access to our yard during the day. However, with all the snow, some were hesitant to come out.

After just a couple days of being cooped up, it was clear that they needed more space!

After clearing away the snow, the chickens were much more willing come out of the coop! They picked back up their normal habits of pecking, scratching, and exploring – even if it was in a much smaller area than usual.

As the snow continued to fall, I kept clearing away the snow from their grazing area, allowing them to come outside for fresh air if they desired. I also took the wet shavings from their coop and spread them in this area.

Occasionally, I also sprinkled some scratch grains and mealworms for them to find. Obviously, you never want to lure your chickens out into conditions that could cause frostbite on their feet, but providing a safe outdoor area for them to explore at their own pace can have a major positive impact.


Winter Chicken Coop Tip #2: Use old windows to create a sunny spot for your chickens

3 pictures showing glass windows leaning against a chicken run and chickens inside the run

Before the snow started to fall, I headed to the local secondhand building supply store and picked up some old glass windows. For a whopping total of $20, I bought three big glass windows!

I placed the windows around the base of the coop to serve as a snow and wind block. The windows allow air to flow behind them which provides proper ventilation without exposing the chickens to the extreme wind, snow and rain.

The windows also allow the chickens to soak up some extra light and heat! Once the sun comes out, the windows act as passive solar heaters!

On the rare occasion that the sun actually decides to peek its little head out from behind the clouds, my chickens take full advantage of the heat generated from the windows! They seriously love to take naps in the sunshine and you can really feel the warmth that is created by the windows!


Winter Chicken Coop Tip #3: Keep the chicken coop dry & ventilated!

3 pictures showing a chicken coop with dry bedding and open doors/windows for airflow

During cold winter weather, one of the most important things you can do is ventilate your coop!

It may seem counterproductive, but I can’t stress this enough! Keeping the coop ventilated with proper airflow will keep conditions dry.

Chickens are very hardy to the cold, but cold and moisture are a recipe for disaster! Even if it isn’t snowing or raining, your chickens are still pooping – a lot! And all that poop creates moisture. That moisture is what puts your chickens at risk for developing frostbite.

Closing up the coop also increases the risk of illnesses spreading quickly among the birds. Be sure that your chickens are safe and sheltered from the weather, but don’t completely close the coop up. Fresh airflow is needed at all times, even at night.

I regularly scoop out wet bedding and lay down fresh shavings in order to reduce moisture and keep the bedding nice and dry. On dry days, I open all the coop doors for a couple of hours to let everything air out.

The deep litter method also works great during the winter and I highly recommend it! Also, depending how much snow your area receives, you may need to wrap your run with greenhouse plastic to keep the snow and drafts out. If you do this, be sure to leave openings along the top to circulate fresh air.

Be sure to check out the other posts in the Winter Chicken Care series, too!


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  • Kaylee Vaughn

    Kaylee is the Founder of She has set up and run two homesteads, a one-acre in Idaho, and her current two-acre dream homestead in the Pacific North West. Her qualifications include a Permaculture Design Certification from Oregon State University, and she is a Gardenary Certified Garden Coach. Kaylee currently produces at least 80% of her own food. She contributes to our site through articles, training and coaching to our clients. You can read more about her at

Jan Grant

Thursday 2nd of November 2017

Thank you for the information and your sense of this site

Project Zenstead

Saturday 4th of November 2017

Oh, Jan! I'm so glad you enjoy it! When it comes to living this way, you just gotta have a sense of humor! It's too easy in life too get bogged down quickly with worries and stress. The best thing to do is just have a good laugh and keep moving! :) Happy homesteading to you, Jan!