1st Winter in the coop!! Need your expertise!!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by tdog1973, Oct 17, 2016.

  1. tdog1973

    tdog1973 Just Hatched

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    Hello all! Started our chicken family this Spring (3 hens--2 Buff Orp, and Leghorn...2 Roosters--Leghorn and Bantam (my little chicken boy he is the sweetest little thing ever) and this will be the 1st Winter in the coop!! We had an existing outbuilding on our property that the kids used as a playhouse when they were younger, and we used for storage of toys etc. We converted it into a coop! It is dirt floor, 12x7 around 6' tall with slanted tin roof. The coop faces the south so gets lots of afternoon sunlight. They have an attached outdoor run of approx. the same size (taller) that we added this summer for days when we were gone for extended periods or would be home late in the evening! They are free rangers 90% of the time but we like this for those times when we can't be here. We used scraps and pieces of lumber we had on hand to "Fort Knox" the coop, and have it surrounded with buried chicken wire and a smaller grid wire along with lots of rocks and and logs and items as critter deterrants. Now we are ready for the steps to get ready for winter.
    I know from reading many posts, DRY is #1 and ventilation is key! I am worried about those 2 things: drafts as this is not "air tight" as you will see in the photos, and keeping things DRY!!
    For the most part, the coop is extremely water tight! (YAY!)It does not leak even during the heaviest of rains, however it does have 2 small spots (I have included pictures) that get "damp" and I am not quite sure only this area does it. I'm assuming something to do with the tree directly to the right of the front corner. There here have been tiny mushrooms that will grow there as well which I try to sweep away when I see them...these can't be healthy?? I rake the poop etc every week or so to keep things clean. Eager to hear all of your wonderful advice on your favorite ways to weatherproof and what suggestions you have for us. :)

    Our coop :)
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    Coop
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    Main Entrance..roost are about 2 feet or so off the ground. I have read about 2x4's for winter, but as these are quite large I wonder if they will be ok?
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    This ladder area they will sometimes nap and sit during the afternoons and listen to their "programs" on the radio [​IMG]
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    This is the "wet corner"...suggestions on what to do??? Also, my nipple waterer..best methos to keeping it from freezing this winter? Also, can see some of my worry spots as far as drafts here in this pic.
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    This is just facing the opposite way over by "wet corner" looking at the roosts.
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    Nesting boxes near the main entrance
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    Another picture of nesting boxes. They are raised off the floor just a bit with river rocks.
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    Everything closed. Am thinking plastic over the door for sure to allow light in but prevent snow/wind. Not sure how to enclose the windows as I want to be able to lower them during winter to allow light in for warmth etc. but of course don't want the wind and cold to blow through...[​IMG]
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    Our run :) It is dome shaped at top, so if I tarp it, I think it will be alright as far as snow being able to slide off and not weigh it down too much ??? Maybe just tarp a portion ??? Anyone with experience? Also Thinking I will wrap the sides ??
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    Another view from inside the run, and there are a few of the tiny mushrooms growing at that corner by the tree inside the run..HELP!
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    Close up of the coop with little door open :)
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    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    Your coop is just fine - kind of a salute to the paste. It's old enough that it has developed enough cracks for ventilation. I'd either use silicone caulk or expanding foam on the big cracks to keep the winter wind from whistling through. I'd also put down some straw on the floor for insulation in the winter. They'll burrow into and keep toasty if they get cold. That and tighten up doors, windows, etc. - anywhere a predator could get through and you'll be good to go!!!
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Figure out where the 'wet spot' is coming from and fix it.
    Is it coming in at ground level ......or in the roof..... or walls???

    You need some natural light in there...any glass windows?
    I would put top hinged glassed windows in place of the 2 bottom hinged solid 'window covers'.

    Watch your mesh run roof, it can 'hold snow' if the conditions are right and accumulate it unto collapse.
    Not sure how far south in IL you are and whether snow load is an issue.

    Do you have power in the coop to heat a waterer?
    This is what I use....the horizontal nipples are superior to the vertical nipples you have there.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/aarts-heated-waterer-with-horizontal-nipples

    Good discussion on ventilation vs drafts
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1048597/ventilated-but-free-of-drafts

    Good video illustrating air movement (but the roost in that coop is way too high - nothing to do with the sir movement tho)
     
  4. tdog1973

    tdog1973 Just Hatched

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    Thank you @Redsoxs I will look into the silicone caulking, that is a great idea!

    @Aart, that is a fantastic video explanation on the draft vs ventilation!! Exactly what I needed. I will hang some strings and see!
    Thank you for the other links as well. I do actually prefer (for now) the vertical nipples as I don't like how the dirt can accumulate so quickly on the horizontal ones. There is just a lot of dust that can happen out there since it is a dirt floor. And yes, I do have electricity out there as I have a radio on out there at all times to spook the coons and critters. I am trying to decide what the best warming method will be for me since it is a hanging waterer.
    I do not know how the wetness happens..it is so strange and very sporadic. only in that corner! Can see the boards there are wet as well. The rest of the coop is perfectly dry. That is the darkest corner so maybe that has something to do with it. I will investigate more closely tomorrow.
    As far as the windows would love to be able to put glass in maybe in the future but trying to be as frugal as possible with this project so for now will be keeping the hinged window covers. I do still want to be able to drop them for light during the winter months so am trying to figure out my best method of covering to prevent the cold yet still be able to manuever. ??
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  5. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Clear plastic (I use two layers) over the windows works fine in winter, and you can leave the top couple of inches open for more ventilation. Two layers of clear plastic will work on the run for wind protection also, and use shavings and stuff on the entire floor as deep bedding. Mary
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I don't worry about the dust/dirt on the HN's......they drink out of mud puddles, peck at dirt, eat dirt while digging and pecking dust bath spots.
    One of the major advantages to HN's is not having to hang the waterer.


    The wet spot.... I bet it's seeping in under the wall?
    The roots of the tree looks very close to wall and it may be funneling down the tree/root and into building.
    Or it could also be, or partially be, runoff from roof too.
    Not sure what you can do.....go out and look during heavy rain....might be able to minimize it.
     
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  7. tmarsh83

    tmarsh83 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think you're in pretty good shape.

    If you already have power out there, you might just look at getting a heated dog dish for water for the winter. That way you aren't worrying about the nipples at all.

    I'm not sure I saw any cracks that looked like major draft issues. Being backed up to the woods like that is going to cut down on the wind quite a bit. You may get moving air, but not the screaming prairie winds barreling through the cracks.

    Maybe a couple panels of the clear pole barn siding for a sort of storm window for the winter?
     
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  8. tdog1973

    tdog1973 Just Hatched

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    Thanks tmarsha83! I like the idea of the clear panel too, I will check into those! I hadnt thought of something like that!
     

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