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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Keeping the Chickens and Rabbits Warm in Extreme Cold


I'm often asked how we keep our animals warm in the extreme cold.  We only have rabbits and chickens than we keep year round. I covered a lot of this in a previous post here

When we have a good amount of snow, it's getting below freezing a lot and they are staying in the house more than out, and their water is freezing in the house, we close the house day and night, keeping the chickens in  for the rest of winter.  We have two windows that we can open if it gets too warm and leaved cracked for ventilation.

When laying starts to decrease and we are losing a lot of light, we add a regular 100w light during the day for 12 hours of light. When it's -10 or colder, we add a 100w red light during the night to help it stay warm enough without the extra light.  Surprisingly this works well to keep the coop above freezing until around -20, after that we have to put in a heat lamp.  We use the red heat lamp so they don't have 24 hours of light, and continue the regular 100w bulb for 12 hours during the day.  We made that mistake once, and when the cold snap was over, we abruptly went back to the 12 hours of light and they completely quit laying for weeks. 

The rabbits do well with the above plan too, unless we are having a litter.  When we are getting close to having a litter, we put a reptile heater at the bottom of the nest box.  It has a warm to hot temperature controller so I can't say exactly what it's set at, but it's warm to the touch without being hot at all.  This has kept the bunnies nice and warm even during this -30 to -40 degree weather.


  1. Wow, -36...we were at zero today and thought it was cold...and now it's snowing. Not normal for Vancouver this time of year...so will see how the winter goes.

    thank you for the toothbruth suggestion...never thought of that. But boy, I'm tired of having a sore throat....and taking so many antibiotics cannot be good for me as well. So not sure what to do.

    But already threw the toothbrush in the garbage after I read your comment.

  2. Oh my gosh, it's that cold there already? I feel for you. Glad to see everyone is as comfortable as can be expected.

  3. Treasures Evermore, that stinks, I hope you are well soon!

    Michaele, well it's really early for us too, it can get this cold, not usually for so long this early though, we actually set 3 record lows this week.

  4. Are your rabbits kept inside some sort of shelter during the winter, or are their cages exposed to the elements?

  5. There is a link to a previous post that explains more. The rabbits are in a shelter in the winter, they are kept in the chicken coop. The chickens have the floor and nest boxes, and we have the rabbit hutches attached to the wall in the coop. We keep the coop above 32 degrees all winter with insulation, regular incandescent light bulbs and body heat, and when it's colder a heat lamp. We can get as cold as -50 or more, I don't think they would survive the winter outdoors