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    Keep a Healthy Winter Chicken Coop

    Maintain adequate ventilation in your coop during the winter months.

    When temperatures plummet in winter, it’s imperative to provide your chickens with sufficient shelter from the weather. Even with cold temperatures, a henhouse must provide adequate ventilation. People commonly make the mistake of insulating the coop to a point that limits air circulation. With no air movement, humidity builds up inside the coop, which can lead to frostbite on chickens’ fleshy parts — combs or wattles.

    If you notice that their toes are frostbitten, that’s a sign that your roost is too small, because chickens normally lower their bodies onto their feet, protecting their talons with their feathers. Lack of proper ventilation can also create a buildup of ammonia gas from their droppings, which can damage your chickens’ lungs.

    Even though you must avoid drafts from passing through the coops in the winter, you need to allow for enough air flow to provide your chickens with fresh air. The overhang of your chicken coop, where the walls meet the roof, is a great place for a screened window to increase ventilation.

    Any time you are altering your coop, it is wise to ensure that the roof and floor are still waterproof, because one of the keys to staying warm is to stay dry. Wet living conditions for chickens can bring upon disease and death within a few days.

    If your birds are particularly susceptible to the cold or if you have extremely chilly winters, you may want to install a heatproducing bulb because the coop temperature needs to be only slightly above freezing to keep chickens comfortable and to prevent frostbite. An overly warm coop will interfere with the birds’ ability to tolerate cold temperatures.