Some of the answers from people in Canada:
"We leave chickens out all winter here. I have an insulated coop and when it gets cold (-40 air temp), I sometimes use a heat lamp wired into a ceramic socket in the ceiling to keep the chickens from losing combs and toes....and [you need to] collect the eggs frequently as catching them before they freeze is the biggest problem."
"If you want to ensure eggs all winter, you will need to give them supplementary light, preferably on a timer. Otherwise you may have a few eggless weeks. Not a big deal since eggs keep a long time in the fridge. Single combed roosters may get frostbite on the comb and wattles. This will make them feel lousy and it can be serious but often is more of a discomfort. The affected parts will turn black and eventually fall off."
Ok, now if I were a chicken I might take exception to the idea that the "biggest issue" about keeping chickens outside in the winter is the freezing and cracking of eggs rather than MY TOES FALLING OFF!
Seriously, I'm pretty sure losing body parts trumps a "few eggless weeks." But then, I'm not a chicken- I just play one on the internet. :)
Speaking of chilly chickens, we Minnesotans have been under this weather advisory the last few days:
A WIND CHILL ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT FOR THE REMAINDER OF SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL MINNESOTA WHERE WIND CHILLS WILL DIP INTO THE 25 BELOW ZERO RANGE...
IF YOU ARE PLANNING TRAVEL....MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A WINTER SURVIVAL KIT IN YOUR CAR WHICH SHOULD INCLUDE SOME WARM CLOTHES OR A SLEEPING BAG.
Right, and you might also consider a teleportation device able to "Beam me up, Scotty"....assuming Scotty is somewhere in south Florida of course, as we'd hate to end up in Canada (where they care more about egg safety than bodily harm) or Siberia...then again, there is a chance it would be warmer there!
But seriously, we are currently very cold up here. It is truly one of God's awesome wonders - the crazy things that living organisms can actually survive, as well as the fact that some of us humans live in this part of creation by choice! Every day, I stare out at that bright, sparkling snow; so glittery you have to squint just to look out the window; and I am filled with awe. It is incredible; magnificent. It is pure, shimmering, unadulterated beauty. And I am thankful for the ability to survive here...even during the extremes.
(And according to this chicken, these extremes are best enjoyed from the warmth of a heated home so that nothing freezes and cracks, or more importantly, falls off....)