-50F Coop ideas

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Pryn, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. Pryn

    Pryn Hatching

    Jan 29, 2009
    I am moving to an area of Alaska with temperatures down to -50F, sometimes for weeks at a time. I am trying to decide how to design a coop section of a barn (chickens and guineas to start) for these temperatures. How much insulation would be needed (4", 6", 8", 12"?) Perhaps an inner "extreme temp section" that they could cuddle up in when it is very cold? I would prefer not to add heat, but when facing such low temperatures I am just not sure... Maybe I could design for a heat lamp or two but not turn them on unless they look cold?

    This will be my first time raising poultry, I would love to get BO's but but am worried about the single comb.

    Ideas please?

    - Pryn -
  2. riderbecky

    riderbecky Songster

    May 4, 2008
    Ottawa Valley
    Well a few tips. I live in Canada and while we don't usually get that cold you'll likely need a heat source just to keep your waterer(s) thawed. I just hung a heat lamp over my normal waterer and that worked great.

    You'll also need to think pink...and lots of it with the proper vapour barriers etc. Do it right so you only do it once. Next and actually before you insulate you'll need to plan and implement ventilation...and lots of it, placed high up so your birds don't get direct drafts. I think its Patnchickens who has a fabulous ventilation page.

    Lastly, you'll want to consider the breeds of birds you get...you don't specify if you have any. Get cold hearty breeds with low combs. Some examples are Chanteclers (bred in Canada to be hearty in canadian winters and still lay all winter long) Wyandottes, Orpingtons and many many others.

    Also do a search winter proofing coop to learn lots more

    Good luck [​IMG]
  3. Chicken Woman

    Chicken Woman Incredible Egg

    Oct 16, 2008
    There are others on BYC from Alaska so I would search Alaska and speak with them about what they do.
  4. Pryn

    Pryn Hatching

    Jan 29, 2009
    Thank you both. I will take your advice in my design for the "Ideal extreme weather coop" [​IMG] as well as continue searching old posts.

    It's wonderful to find this resource! I am sure I will be spending a great deal of time on here when I get my girls. For now everything I am learning I putting to use to make a happy home for them. [​IMG]

    - Pryn -
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    My impression from hearing from those who have chickens in that sort of climate is that it is hard to completely escape the use of heat. (I mean, beyond the obvious necessity to keep drinking water liquid)

    However, the more insulation you have, the lower your electric bill will be.

    I would absolutely recommend at LEAST 6-8" insulation; beyond that you get a slope of diminishing returns that makes it awfully expensive to put storeboughten insulation on to any useful further effect, but every little bit helps. Snow piled against the walls, assuming the walls are made strong enough to tolerate this, can help a lot. (I would suggest strawbales but am guessing they may be in short supply there).

    Ceiling insulation is a big thing too; worth insulating the ceiling more than the walls, same as in a house. An extra insulated hover or partitioned-off roost box, as you mention, is also not a bad idea.

    Good luck, better you than me <g>,

    Pat, where it only gets down to -20 or -30 C and that's plenty cold enough
  6. Pryn

    Pryn Hatching

    Jan 29, 2009
    Thank you for the tips. I will super-insulate (8" offset studs) and have heat lamps available for when they are needed. [​IMG] I want happy chickens.

    - Pryn -
  7. vermontgal

    vermontgal Songster

    Where I live it only gets down to -25°F to -30°F. I built a hover around the roost at PatnChickens suggestion (thanks Pat) and the chickens definitely like it. Currently, my "hover" consists of an old quilt I hung in the coop, but I plan to add an insulated wall, that will attach to the ceiling via hinges. I'll be able to flip it out of the way for cleaning. The chickens all huddle together on that side of the roost.
  8. CityChook

    CityChook Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    My Coop
    I thought about a hover, too, and talked to Pat (thanks, Pat!). I didn't end up doing it (it got too cold and I got too lazy) but I think it would have worked. If you don't want to use 24/7 heat, you should consider hardwiring a light fixture (or two - I wish I had two) with a switch. You can put a heat light (I used ceramic - loved it) in the sockets and then only turn them on when you deem it appropriate. This way you don't have to worry about the heat light falling and catching your coop on fire. Makes it really easy to control with the switch. Heck, maybe you could even put it on a dimmer - don't know, didn't try that one. But depending on how many birds you're going to have, you will probably need some heat.

    Regardless of what you decide to do about the heat, you will need electricity run to the coop for a heated water dish.

    I have BOs and made it through the winter with no frostbite. BUT, I used heat. Good luck! You're going to enjoy the chookies!
  9. jasonak

    jasonak In the Brooder

    May 17, 2008
    Im the valley,im not sure where in AK you moving but chickens are pretty hardy.I spoil mine though.I have a heated coop.You can buy from AIH(alaska industrial hardware) for 200.00 a natural gas heater with built in thremostat it just bolts right to the wall you dont have to run ducting or anything.Heck of a deal I thought.I have 2x4 walls and 2x6 celing they are on 2 foot centers.I bought regular pink insulation highest rated I could could get for wall thickness,I dont rember excatley what the R rating was.The real key is to make sure you have no leaks when you put on your vapor barrier.My chickens were at a nice and toasty 65 deg all winter and I didnt notice much change in my gas bill.Theres lost of diffrent ways to HEAT your coop.Just insulate well.It usally only gets to minus 30 and usally only for a week or two where im at.If you really are getting minus 50 for long periods you might want to consdier using 2x6 for walls as you can increase you insulation.Also not sure what you are raising chickens for meat,eggs,pets but there are lost of birds that are cold hardy.
    Pm if you have any questions.I would be happy to help [​IMG]

    P/S my parents raised chickens here for years with out any heat or insulation.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  10. Freeholder

    Freeholder Songster

    Mar 23, 2008
    Klamath County, OR
    I'm not in Alaska now, but I had chickens (and ducks, geese, rabbits, and goats) in Tok for several years -- it can get down to minus seventy there. We didn't have any electricity, so didn't have heat in the 'barn' (a 12' X 16' shed that housed all the above animals -- two goats in one pen, poultry in a long pen along the back, rabbits in hanging cages -- very cosy!). We didn't lose any chickens to the cold, but did lose some combs and toes. We got some eggs all winter, frozen if we didn't get to them fast enough, but still usable. Our little barn was only partly insulated, and drafty. We took water out two or three times a day; it still froze quickly, but seemed to be adequate for their needs (although a goose sat in the rubber water pan too long one time, froze down, and had to be brought inside to thaw out -- a proceeding she strenuously objected to!).

    Neighbors had built a partially underground barn for their two goats and their chickens. Only the top two feet of the walls was above ground; there were windows in this part of the wall on the south side, for ventilation and for some light. They put sod on the roof, too. I don't know if there was any insulation in the walls, but if you do an underground or earth-bermed structure (which I would recommend if you can do it), use foam board insulation rather than fiberglass, in case it gets damp. Their underground barn never froze inside. They didn't have electricity, either, so had no way to provide extra light or heat for their animals, but they did just fine.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by