Two Letters Re: Wintering Chickens


I feel compelled to chime in on the Wintering Chickens letter. Light bulbs are prone to fire so I would recommend using a heating source that is not a fire risk. Small, oil-filled heaters seem to work well for us. Also, the deep litter method does help with warmth in the winter and reduces the need for supplemental heat. Cold hardy chickens are fine down into the single digits, provided there is ventilation in the coop. Excess moisture combined with severe cold will cause frostbite to the comb. Chickens require down time in the winter, so I do not advocate artificial lighting. My Java chickens lay all winter (at an elevation of close to 8000 feet) without supplemental lighting. I provide heat only when the mercury plummets below zero. Borrowing from Joel Salatin and Harvey Ussery, I like to throw a few handfuls of whole corn into the coop just before dark. Scratching for corn in the deep litter gets their tummies full and their blood pumping, which warms them up for the night. Keep up the good work! – Alpine Sky-pilot

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I don’t use lights and let my hens molt in late fall thinking they may last longer this way, but I found my pullets that hatched in the spring came into lay just as the year old birds are molting. I don’t know which breeds or strains may do this without lights, but my pullets are a cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and White Leghorn hens. They do have good shelter and layer pellets. – M.W.