Cold Weather Chicken Treat

The temperature dropped 30 degrees in one day.



But these bitter cold temperatures don’t have me worried about my hens. They don’t need a heat lamp. They don’t need hot meals. They have dry, spacious and draft-free coops, with fresh water and good laying hen pellets. I keep them from getting bored by giving them things like pine branches and cabbages. Their feathers (almost 10,000 on each bird!) keep them plenty warm.

Still, they do burn more calories in the winter, so although I advise not to feed too many empty carbs in the form of scratch grains and breads, when the thermometer gets this low, you can indulge your hens with treats. I happened to have a box of multigrain cheerios languishing in the pantry. None of the humans liked them. This morning the sun didn’t shine, and the ground was hard with ice. It’s the perfect day to treat the hens.

no sun


I called the Ladies outside, but someone was blocking the door.



Once Phoebe and Twiggy came out, the others followed.

first two


Everyone ate.



Phoebe loves this weather. Last night, as the cold front blew in with high gusts of wind, she was hopping about the pen, doing leaps of joy.



The Gems got their share of the cereal.



The goats don’t mind the cold at all, and they don’t need the extra calories! But, they got a handful of cheerios, too.

goats eating cheerios


It’s supposed to stay very, very cold all week. I wonder what else is going stale in the pantry?


  1. Only one of our girls has trouble with the cold and only because she is the only one with a comb….and even then, she only has trouble when it gets below 0F (-17C) which it will be tonight. In this case, I do put the ‘cozy legs’ heater on beside the spot on the roost where she sleeps….if not, she would be frostbitten in the morning. The Chanteclers and the Ameracaunas have no problems at all at those temps and much colder it would seem.

    • You know your coop, your hens, and your Canadian weather! I don’t recommend heaters, but you’ve done your research, have a safe one, and are careful. Glad to hear that those Chanteclers are living up to their reputation for being good Canadian birds.

  2. 2 cold now to let them roam around free but if possible they do get out to get some green out of our big yard. They love the cheerios I give them for a treat in their pen when they can’t go out free, a big hand of wild bird seed is a hit as well and keeps them busy in their pen. They have been molting bad and late this year and 1 is still going through it, the poor girl, and it’s freezing. Extra straw n hay will keep them warm and busy as they love picking in it.

    • Straw and hay does keep them busy and insulates against the cold, however keep an eye on it that it doesn’t hold the damp or go moldy. Also, hungry hens will eat it and get impacted crops, so it’s all a matter of management.

  3. I saw Phoebe outside early this morning. Even before “the boys” came outside. Her coat is just made for this weather.

  4. I was wondering about how to get extra calories into the girls this winter. I don’t heat their coop (and if I leave the door to the run open, it can get quite cool in the coop). They’ve been getting oatmeal & raisins mixed in with their breakfast of softened and warmed crumbles (they get access to dry crumbles all the time), but I’ve been wondering what else I can give them.

    • More carbs during this deep freeze! They’ll be delighted with basic scratch corn. Spread it out, or toss it in their bedding to make them work for it.

  5. My girls are getting rolled oats, a few sunflower seeds and kale daily to keep them going.

  6. Stomp that pumpkin! :D I came online just as you brought the pumpkin to the Ladies. Still no Ladies out to eat the pumpkin yet, just Phoebe. It’s hilarious watching her choose just the exact pumpkin string to slurp up like spaghetti! Lily also seemed to be enjoying herself.

    We dropped from 56 to 19 in one day. Brrrrrr. Today we’ve managed to climb to a whopping 23! Gee, hmm, have I mentioned before how much I DON’T LIKE THE COLD? :D Glad you and the critters are keeping warm!

    • Actually, I put it out for Phoebe – frozen pumpkin doesn’t interest the hens, but Phoebe does enjoying gnawing on it.

  7. I can’t believe I never thought about that! I have some stale corn Chex in the cupboard, I’m sure they would love it. I’ve been tossing them some rolled oats on the really cold days. I keep a heat lamp out in the covered run, because they will stay in their coop all day otherwise. The heat lamp coaxes them outside for some fresh air. But no lamp inside. Even my poor gal who is in the middle of a heavy molt still seems to keep her bare bum warm enough.

  8. I occasionally give my girls oatmeal in warm milk and yes, Cheerios are a favorite too! I’ve been worried about my two rabbits, acquired this summer.. but they have a large hutch with two compartments and the outdoor part is stuffed with hay, two horse blankets over the whole thing at night. Seeing your Phoebe tells me they’ll be just fine. They also have each other.

    • As long as they have water. That’s the hard part with rabbits because the typical water dispensers freeze up so quickly.

  9. I’ve stayed away from breakfast cereal because of sugar. In small amounts, I guess you are OK with Cheerios, etc.? It’s not that cold here (although it was actually freezing for a few nights last week, it’s now back in the 70s), so my girls don’t need the extra carbs, really. Warm water in their crumbles in the AM, once or twice a week, is very popular, along with a daily pile of greens.

  10. Wonderful post. Good to see pictures of Phoebe and the boys. And thank you Goat-maid for the Cheerios!

  11. I’ve been reading about discarded Christmas trees being beneficial to goats especially for the vitamins and as a natural wormer. I always put ours out in the chicken run for the girls to investigate and pick at. It also creates a wind break on blustery days.

    • It’s been very cold here and quite windy. I trimmed the lower branches of our evergreens and attached them to the corners of our pen where the girls have their perches. When they finally do venture outside, the girls and my two Roos head right for those corners. The branches make excellent wind breaks and provide a place for them to snuggle up and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. On wet days they stay inside, but as soon as it clears up, out they go!

      • that’s a great idea indeed.. we have lots of pine trees on our property.. I’m going out today (in the cold cold weather) and get some branches to give to my 6 girls.. a few in their pen, a few in the coop. Thanks for the tip :)

  12. We are into the 40 degree Celcius sort of weather right now, so opposite to most of you. Our two chooks love their watermelon in this weather.