How to Winterize a Chicken Tractor

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Keeping chickens in winter isn’t super complicated, but you will need to make a couple of adjustments to the coop or tractor to keep your birds warm and dry. It is important to know how to winterize a chicken tractor (or a chicken coop) before the freezing weather hits. 

Homestead Winter Prep: Winterizing a Chicken Tractor

Winter is on its way! There is a lot of homestead winter prep to accomplish before the cold weather hits. The garden area needs to be prepped, the harvest needs to be preserved, and the animal shelters need to be modified to keep them warm in the cold.

This week I winterized the chicken tractor that my chickens use for eating, roosting, and nesting. If you have a chicken tractor, whether it is built like mine or not, you should be able to use the same process.

Keeping Chickens Warm in Winter

Before we jump into the how-to, let’s discuss the ways in which you can keep your chickens warm during the cold winter months.

First, just let the chickens be chickens. They have layers of feathers and an internal body temp of 105-107 that basically turn them into little walking furnaces.

Provide a Wind Break

However, the birds will do well with a windbreak and proper ventilation. This is what I focus on when I winterize my chicken tractor. As long as they stay dry, out of the wind, and have fresh air, then they will stay warm and safe. 

Deep Litter Method

When preparing your chicken tractor for winter, consider the deep litter method. This simply means that you leave your chicken tractor stationary and don’t clean out the dirty bedding. Leave the old bedding and add new on top. This will create insulation and generate heat for your chickens. 

Artificial Heat

I generally don’t recommend adding a heat source to the chicken coop because it isn’t needed. I NEVER recommended a heat lamp. If you choose to add heat, check into heat lamp alternatives before adding a fire hazard to your chickens’ shelter. 

Why Should You Prepare a Chicken Tractor for Winter?

If chickens typically do well in cold weather, why should you bother preparing the coop for winter? There are three main reasons- frostbite, wind chill, and moisture. Let’s talk about those for a second or two.

#1 Frostbite Prevention

Chickens can get frostbite fairly easily, especially on the combs and feet. It is important to give them a warm and dry area the will keep them out of wind and snow to reduce the risk of frostbite. Raising cold hardy chicken breeds is helpful for preventing frostbite as well. 

#2 Protection from Wind

Chickens do well in cold weather, but the wind chill can get them. A winterized coop provides them with a resting place out of the wind.

#3 Provide a Dry Space

Moisture within the coop or chicken tractor can cause a multitude of issues: frostbite, mold growth, respiratory problems, and even mites. To reduce excess moisture, keep the waterer outside of the coop, add fresh bedding frequently, and cover the open areas of the coop (leaving space for ventilation).

How to Winterize a Chicken Tractor

When preparing a chicken tractor for winter, it is important to make sure that the cold air isn’t blowing directly on the birds. I like to use a thick clear plastic sheet to cover my chicken tractor. You can do this with a movable tractor or a stationary coop.

STEP 1: Gather Supplies

You will need:

STEP 2: Wrap the Plastic

Wrap the plastic sheet over the coop. Be sure to leave some space open for ventilation. I left a space on both sides of the door open for this. 

Cattle panel chicken tractor winterized with plastic sheeting

If you don’t leave any spaces open, the chicken tractor will become an oven for the birds. Adequate ventilation will also allow moisture and excess dust to exit the shelter. Make sure that the space you leave uncovered doesn’t allow the wind to blow directly onto the birds when they are roosting. 

If you are winterizing a chicken tractor that isn’t open on top, simply add the plastic to the open sides.

**This photo shows the entire top front of my chicken tractor open, only two spaces on the side were actually left without plastic.

STEP 3: Staple Plastic to Frame

Use the staple gun to secure the plastic sheeting to the bottom of the chicken tractor or coop frame. Be sure that the plastic is pulled taut so the wind isn’t able to flow underneath. If the wind gets under the plastic, your birds could become chilled at night and the plastic could become loose.

Using an electric staple gun to secure plastic sheeting to a chicken tractor

STEP 4: Secure Plastic to Front & Back

If you have wood on the front and back of your chicken tractor, then you can staple this part. If not, then you can zip-tie or duct-tape the plastic to the netting or metal panel. I have used zip ties in the past, but this year I used metal wire.

Chicken coop with plastic sheeting and metal wire

STEP 5: Remove Excess Plastic

Use scissors, a knife, or a box cutter to remove the extra plastic from the bottom. Be sure to leave a small overhang for rain runoff.

STEP 6: Insulate the Chicken Tractor (optional)

I don’t insulate my chicken tractor because our winters are pretty mild. If you live in a colder climate, then you can stack bales of straw against the sides of the chicken shelter to hold in more heat.

When winterizing your chicken tractor, consider using bedding such as wood shavings and straw. This will help to insulate the coop, especially if you use the deep litter method.

Kids adding straw bedding into a chicken tractor

STEP 7: Keep Water Out of the Coop

Keeping the chickens’ waterer inside the coop during winter is just asking for frostbite. Move the waterer outside to help keep the coop bedding dry. You can keep the water from freezing by using a heated waterer or you can bust the ice each morning. 


A winterized chicken coop will keep your backyard birds dry & warm during the cold winter months. Take the simple precautions listed here and watch your chickens thrive this winter!

How to Winterize a Chicken Tractor

How to Winterize a Chicken Tractor

Materials

  • 6 mil plastic sheeting
  • Electric Staple Gun or Manual Staple Gun
  • Zip Ties or wire
  • Knife, hole punch, nail- just something to pole holes with.
  • Scissors, knife, or box cutter
  • Straw Bales (optional)

Instructions

STEP 1: Gather Supplies

STEP 2: Wrap the Plastic

Wrap the plastic sheet over the coop. Be sure to leave some space open for ventilation.

If you are winterizing a chicken tractor that isn’t open on top, simply add the plastic to the open sides.

STEP 3: Staple Plastic to Frame

Use the staple gun to secure the plastic sheeting to the bottom of the chicken tractor or coop frame. Be sure that the plastic is pulled taut so the wind isn’t able to flow underneath.

STEP 4: Secure Plastic to Front & Back

If you have wood on the front and back of your chicken tractor, then you can staple this part. If not, then you can zip-tie or duct-tape the plastic to the netting or metal panel. I have used zip ties in the past, but this year I used metal wire.

STEP 5: Remove Excess Plastic

Use scissors, a knife, or a box cutter to remove the extra plastic from the bottom. Be sure to leave a small overhang for rain runoff.

STEP 6: Insulate the Chicken Tractor (optional)

I don’t insulate my chicken tractor because our winters are pretty mild. If you live in a colder climate, then you can stack bales of straw against the sides of the chicken shelter to hold in more heat.

Consider using bedding such as wood shavings and straw. This will help to insulate the coop, especially if you use the deep litter method.

STEP 7: Keep Water Out of the Coop

Keeping the chickens’ waterer inside the coop during winter is just asking for frostbite. Move the waterer outside to help keep the coop bedding dry. You can keep the water from freezing by using a heated waterer or you can bust the ice each morning. 


Pin this Post for later!

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5 Comments

  1. Hello! Thanks for this quick and easy winterization idea. I’ve recently discovered that my concerns about “protecting” the chickens in winter is somewhat excessive; it sounds like they only need shelter from the wind, rain, and snow. In which USDA zone do you live? I’m in zone 6, and we’ll have some long periods with single digits (or lower), but definitely months at a time in the teens and 20s. The chickens should be fine with this simple setup, correct?

    1. Hey Joe! I am in zone 7 in TN. This is the setup that I use for my chickens over the winter. I do keep their chicken tractor more stationary in wintertime so I can add some bedding to the bottom for extra warmth, but they do well with this!

  2. I was wondering what type of water warmer you recommend? I am researching as we are expected to get sub freezing temps and usually keep water source inside coop. I really appreciate your tips 🙂

  3. A bit late to the party but great post! Do you have instructions on building the chicken tractor itself? Thank you. 🙏

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