How to Heat a Chicken Coop in Winter Without Electricity?

Many people indeed consider chickens as hardy due to their feathers. Winter, however, can spell doom to your chicken flock. The cold in the winter months can kill your chickens, particularly baby chicks.

Cold can also stop your hens from laying eggs. Heating your chicken coop in winter is therefore imperative for protecting your chickens during these cold months. You can heat your chicken coop without necessarily using electricity.

What is the Minimum Temperature for Chickens?

Chickens are warm-blooded creatures, like us humans. While chickens can regulate their body temperature depending on their environment, cold weather can affect their body temperature. Regardless of the weather conditions, chickens should have a minimum temperature of around 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

 How Do Chickens Stay Warm in the Winter?

Chicken keepers have problems keeping their chickens warm in winter.  Keeping your chicken coop warm in winter isn’t challenging as some chicken keepers think. Here are ten ways you can keep your coop warm in winter.


The walls of your chicken coop need to have proper insulation.  Proper insulation will not only help keep your chickens warm in winter, but it will also keep the flock cool in summer.

Cold weather won’t affect your chickens in winter if you have proper insulation. Insulating your chicken coop will minimize heat loss in the coop, keeping the coop warm in the cold weather. Here is how you can insulate your coop to keep your chicken warm and comfortable in winter.

  • Cardboard: fix some cardboard cartons on all the walls of your chicken coop. Ensure there are cardboard cartoons on the roof of the coop. Cardboard will help prevent the cold from getting into the coop while retaining heat in the coop. Furthermore, cardboard is suitable for reducing drafts and winds.
  • Styrofoam: while Styrofoam is a bit more expensive than cardboard; it is an excellent material for insulating a chicken coop effectively. Glue Styrofoam inside the coop and the roof. Styrofoam will effectively block out cold in winter. Nonetheless, your chickens can destroy Styrofoam since chickens like to peck on this material. Install a layer of cardboard and newspapers on top of the Styrofoam to prevent the chicken from destroying the Styrofoam.
  • Fabric: fabric from old clothes can also make an excellent insulation material for your chicken coop. Nail some old clothes inside the coop to insulate the coop against cold in winter. You can use fabric together with cardboard to effectively insulate your coop.
  • Straw: straw bales offer excellent wall insulation, and thus they are suitable for insulating your coop. Stack as many straw bales as possible against the walls of your chicken coop. Hold the straw bales with glue or ropes to prevent them from falling when it is windy.

– Bedding

Bedding is suitable for keeping your chickens comfortable and keeping your flock warm during cold weather. You can make good bedding for your chickens using sawdust, wood shavings, and straw. These three materials will provide plenty of insulation in your coop, ensuring that your chickens will have plenty of warmth in winter.

Whether you are using straw, sawdust, or wood shavings for your chickens’ bedding, ensure the bedding layer is thick to give your chickens comfort and warmth. The sawdust, straw, or wood shavings you use as bedding for your chickens should be completely dry to stop mold growth in your chicken coop.

Don’t use fresh sawdust, wood shavings, or straw since it can cause mold growth in your coop. Furthermore, change the bedding frequently to stop moisture from accumulating in the chicken coop.

Changing your chicken bedding regularly is also suitable for preventing odors and dust in the coop, primarily if you use sawdust for your chicken bedding.

– Leaf Compost Pile

A leaf compost pile can provide plenty of heat in your chicken coop in the cold weather. Instead of disposing of the waste in the chicken coop, stir up the waste with a rake. Place some dry leaves on the top. A leaf compost pile will not only insulate the coop in the cold winter months. In addition, a leaf compost pile will help your manage your chicken waste in the long run.

– Energizing Foods

People turn to energizing foods during the unforgiving, cold winter months. In winter, chickens also need plenty of energizing foods to keep themselves warm, especially if there isn’t electricity to heat the coop. Below are some of the best energizing foods to provide to your chicken in the cold winter months.

  • Scratch

Scratch is a blend of whole grains and corn. Scratch is an excellent energy-rich treat for chickens in winter. It has plenty of starch which can increase your chickens’ body heat, ultimately keeping your chickens warm in winter.

Scratch is suitable for baby chicks since it gives them plenty of energy and warmth in cold weather. Thus, your baby chicks are unlikely to die from a cold if you add some scratch to their food.

  • Greens

Greens are also energy-rich foods that are suitable for chickens in winter. Greens can provide your chickens with plenty of fiber. As your chickens digest the fiber in the greens, their bodies will automatically generate heat, and hence the chickens will beat the cold.

Some best green options for chickens in winter include chard, spinach, and chard. Chop some greens and toss them to your birds.

Apart from parking plenty of energy which chickens require to keep themselves warm in winter, greens will also provide your chickens with other health benefits. For instance, feeding chickens with greens will help boost their immune system, enabling them to combat flu and other diseases they are vulnerable to in winter.

  • Mealworms

mealworms are another excellent treat for your chickens in winter. Mealworms can provide the chickens with plenty of energy, ultimately helping your birds generate heat in winter.

Furthermore, mealworms have plenty of protein and are thus suitable for your birds during the molting process, usually in the winter. Mealworms are particularly ideal for hens since they require plenty of protein to sustain their egg-laying capabilities.

  • Grains and seeds

Grains and seeds will provide your chickens with plenty of calories in winter. In return, the chicken will generate heat in the process of burning calories. Grains and seeds are also rich in carbs, meaning they provide your chickens with plenty of energy they need to generate heat in cold winter months.

Sunflower seeds are particularly suitable for chickens during winter. They will provide your birds with plenty of energy.

Grains such as barley, oats, and wheat are also suitable for chickens in winter since they can provide plenty of energy to your chicken. Apart from providing your chickens with the energy they require to generate heat in winter, grains and seeds will help your chicken remain active as they pick on the grains and seeds you toss in the coop.

Being active will stop your birds from getting bored since chickens stay indoors in winter.

  • Kitchen Scraps

As humans, we eat plenty of carb-rich foods in winter to provide us with energy to help us generate enough heat to withstand the cold winter months.  Your chickens can also generate plenty of warmth from eating kitchen scraps.

Nonetheless, don’t give your chickens kitchen scraps if the scraps have plenty of salt or if the scraps have plenty of sugars. Salt is dangerous for chickens, and it can quickly kill your birds.  Sugar can also make your birds overweight with time, subjecting the chickens to the risk of dying.

  • Corn

Corn is a nice treat for chickens in winter. Corn can provide your chickens with plenty of energy to enable them to generate heat in winter regardless of whether you have electricity in your chicken coop or not. Chickens need plenty of fiber in winter. They will generate heat as they digest the fiber in the corn.

Corn can also lower your chickens’ cholesterol levels and further improve their digestion system. Consider mixing corn with other healthy food items to enhance the health of your chickens. Research shows that corn can help increase egg production in hens.

Nonetheless, too much corn is harmful to poultry, including chickens, since it can make chickens obese. Limit the amount of corn you provide to your chickens.  Avoid feeding baby chicks with corn until they are a couple of months old because the fiber in corn can be tough on chicks’ stomachs.

  • Bugs

Introducing bugs to your chickens in winter is a sure method of providing them with the energy and protein to help them survive the cold winter months. Chickens need time and energy to digest insects, enabling the chickens to generate heat in the process.

Try getting some live insects for your chicken since they are indoors throughout the entire winter season, and hence they can’t find insects. Alternatively, purchase some frozen insects from a poultry store and toss them in the chicken coop for the chickens.

Insects can help promote your birds’ overall health, particularly in winter when most chicken breeds are weak and more vulnerable to diseases.

  • Nuts

nuts are a fantastic food option for chickens during winter. Nuts have a terrific amount of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Your chickens need these three to maintain high energy levels in winter, ultimately helping the chickens generate heat internally.

Nuts make chickens remain fully for a long time, reducing the probability of your flock overeating during winter.  Overeating can make chickens gain a lot of weight over time. Avoid overstuffing your chickens with nuts.  Some of the best nuts to give to chickens in winter include Brazil nuts and pine nuts.

  • Spices

It might sound weird to provide your chickens with spices in winter. Spices, however, have many health benefits for poultry. Spices such as cinnamon can provide your birds with loads of energy in winter.

Consider sprinkling a tiny amount of cinnamon over your chickens’ feed. Apart from cinnamon, cayenne pepper is also another excellent spice to give to your chickens. Cayenne pepper won’t only boost energy levels in your chickens. It will also improve their circulation, ultimately reducing their cholesterol levels.

– Keep Your Chickens Busy

Keeping your chicken busy is also a great way to keep them warm in winter if you don’t have electricity in your chicken coop. Boredom can make your chickens start pecking each other.

One of the most excellent ways to keep chickens busy in their coop during winter is by providing them with toys. You can also hang some mirrors in the coop to excite the chickens whenever they check themselves in the mirror.

– Reduce Ventilation

Having excess ventilation in the coup can lead to heat loss in your coop. Consider reducing ventilation in winter to prevent the heat inside the coop from escaping. Furthermore, seal gaps and holes to prevent heat loss.

– Trap Sun Heat

Trapping sun heat in winter can help keep your chicken coop warm when you don’t have electricity. The best way to trap solar heat in winter is by using correctly insulated windows.

– Reduce the Coop Size

A large coop is challenging to keep warm in winter. Consider reducing the size of the coop, particularly if you have few chickens. Reducing the coop will help your chickens remain close to each other, ultimately helping them stay warm in winter.

– Hot Water Bottles

Hot water bottles effectively warm a chicken coop in winter, especially when the weather is freezing. Place a couple of hot water bottles in the coop, particularly at night when there is extreme cold in winter.

– Reposition the Coop

At times, having the coop in the wrong place can expose your chickens to extreme cold. Reposition your kitchen coop in a place where chickens aren’t prone to cold in winter. For instance, move the coop near the garage or under a tree where it is less cold and windy.

Can Chicken Eggs Freeze?

Yes, chicken eggs can freeze in winter if you expose them to extreme cold. Collect your eggs to avoid the cold from freezing your chicken eggs.


Some chicken owners use electricity to warm up their coops in winter. Electricity can, however, risk the life of your chickens since it can electrocute your chickens. Fortunately, you can still keep your chicken coop warm in winter without necessarily using electricity by trying some of the insights in this guide.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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