1. Urban Chaos

    Urban Chaos Songster

    Feb 9, 2011
    Hey all,

    We are in central Texas (Austin), seasons are hot, hotter and holy S#$t with a handful of below freezing nights a year. I have read in other posts that heat can be more of a killer than cold, but I am concerned that if I go with the 3 sided option, I will be scrambling for a solution to warm our birds on those few cold nights a year. Advice???

  2. chickenaddictntn

    chickenaddictntn Chirping

    Feb 1, 2011
    4 walls and vents at the top, off the ground at least a foot and half so the can get under it to cool off. I live in TN and it's hot and humid hear in summer I put fans in the coop hope this helps. [​IMG]
  3. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    I'm in a very hot evironment too and I'm so glad that most of my coop is exposed. We can have about 100 days of 100+ degree temps and keeping the coop and run cool is critical to keeping them alive. You can see what I did to help keep them cool on my byc page. We only get a few nights each winter where the temps dip below 32 degrees. For the worst part of winter (mid Dec.-mid Feb.), I staple plastic up to keep the wind from blowing on the birds and they seem quite pleased with the arrangement. Oh, btw, [​IMG]
  4. calgal98

    calgal98 Songster

    my coop, unfortunately, was placed on the west side of a barn, the only available area at the time. We live in Central California where the summers can be very hot for days on end. I enclosed part of my coop with drop down windows that double as shade in the summer. In winter they can be dropped to be wind/cold blocks. I can tack up plastic to provide light and still provide wind shelter in the winter. We aren't cold enough to need insulation or heat. On the occasion that one is molting during the coldest days, they usually seek the nest boxes for that warmer area. Our run is covered which provides a dry area for both winter rain and summer sun. My total coop/run area is 7x 40. The hens love hanging in the covered area during summer heat and during the worst of winter. They can free range the horse pasture (two acres) year round. I thought I would hate the western exposure, but the hens seem to find places to stay cool. In the worst of the heat, I can place a fan to keep air circulating in the coop. That has been needed for a few weeks each year. On at sun-up, off at sun-down. Occasionally it gets used 24/7. Heat has never been necessary here. We do deep litter in the roosting coop (18x7) and I clean it twice a year, if it needs it. I do use Dry Stall and sweet PDZ if the year is particularly wet. I rarely need it with proper ventilation.
  5. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    Welcome to the forum!

    We're up in North Texas, so we're kinda in the same boat, climate wise. The chickens we keep are tiny bantams who are our pets, so I tend to be overly solicitous about their comfort during cold weather.

    A three sided coop can be retrofitted with a tarp or removeable panel on the fourth wall for winter. A very experienced poultry keeping friend of ours in the neighborhood uses open sided chain link dog kennels with metal roofs. He tarps the sides to block the wind in winter weather. It works fine, but this year he did have trouble with some of his smallest bantams during the below freezing week we all endured. Standard size chickens manage even below freezing weather fine as long as they have a dry, draft free but adequately ventilated shelter.

    I think you really need to worry more about summer, especially if you pick standard breed chickens. Try to pick breeds that are known for heat tolerance. I built a completely open sided roofed coop but stupidly put it someplace in our yard where it gets afternoon summer sun. Big mistake. Even with the open sides, up under the roof (where the chickens roost) gets terribly hot and stays that way even after sundown. So site your coop where it gets the most natural shade. That's my no. 1 bit of advice.

    Our final (really!) coop is a conventional closed sided one, but it has plenty of ventilation. It's also sited properly in our yard so it stays shaded. And it's insulated, which helps keep it cool in summer and retain the supplemental heat that I add during freezing weather in the winter. I used that radiant roof sheathing, too, because the coop does get some sun in the mornings. Last August the coop got no hotter inside than the ambient outdoor temperature, which is as good as it's gonna get.

    Take a look at my BYC page for more specifics about my coops if you're interested.

    Even heat tolerant chickens appreciate some help to manage our weather. You can put out shallow pans of water for them to stand in. Plastic plant saucers work well for this. Their feet, combs and wattles are the only parts of their bodies that don't have down insulation and it's through these body areas that their blood can be cooled. They also hold their wings away from their bodies and pant.

    I freeze a jug of water and then put it out in the run for the chickens to stand around, and on the hottest days I run a small fan next to the run, blowing over the ice. I put ice in the waterer sometimes too. The panting makes them dehydrate and they won't drink as much water if it's warm or hot.
  6. Country Heart

    Country Heart City Girl With A

    I'm in California where heat is the main concern. I install removable shutters during the few months when the temperatures get low and the wind blows - otherwise, during the remainder of the year, I leave it as open as possible. [​IMG]
  7. dldolan

    dldolan WineNChooks

    Aug 11, 2010
    Sonoma County, CA
    Oh, I like the shutters idea, Country Heart!

    Hi, Also from California!
    We made a 4-sided henhouse which is 3 ft off the ground, but put wire under the roosts for air ventilation and easy cleaning! Also air venting lattice on the east side. On the few nights it gets a bit below freezing, the girls just huddle. Otherwise, the air circulates well up through the bottom and out the east wall.
    Tried to post photos:
    From the outside: egg door is open to where the nesting boxes go normally, but I was cleaning! Henhouse is inside enclosed area (for non-free-range days) and about 3 ft up. Just used a side wall of the old pony lean-to and built out...

    back cleaning door of the henhouse (taken from inside the run) that opens to the roosts--wire below, roosts above (only 1 of 2 is visible in this photo), nesting boxes by the "egg door"

    from the garden:

  8. Country Heart

    Country Heart City Girl With A

    Thanks! Nice pictures.

    I really think that good ventilation is the way to go to keep the girls healthy and happy in hot weather. [​IMG]
  9. fargosmom

    fargosmom Songster

    Dec 27, 2008
    Pasadena, CA
    My hen house is totally open on the fourth side, and so far (going on 2 years now) it's been great. I'm in an area of SoCal where we get over 100 degrees for a week or two, but stay in the upper 80's and 90's for a good portion of the summer. We have a hard freeze once in a blue moon, but most of our nights in the winter are mid-30's to low 40's. Anyway, I figure the girls have built-in down coats so the cold isn't a big issue, but the heat sure is, so I'd rather have more ventilation. Their house is raised so they can go under it for shade, and on the worst days I put out frozen bottles for them . . . so far all is well.
    Best wishes and [​IMG]
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Build a big 3- (or fewer) sided enclosure, coop and run combined, with a roof for shade. Then you can add something for extra shelter during the winter, just knock together a plywood 'something' around the roost.

    Good luck, have fun,


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