a coop in Minnesota (Started ....pics)


10 Years
Mar 14, 2009
central MN
So we are in the middle of designing our coop for 4-6 bantams (not here yet) and we live in Minnesota where our winters get real nasty cold. We get many days well below zero so we are going to insulate the coop very good but do you think we will need to run some kind of heat element too? Will a regular lightbulb work or is a heat lamp safe to run all the time? I am also worried about a fire hazard. What have you guys used for heat? The coop will be smaller about 5x6 and about 5 feet high.
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11 Years
Jan 6, 2009
Southwest MO near the ARK line


11 Years
Jul 9, 2008
Hi there. The opinions you get are going to be all over the place because it realy depends on your circumstances more than anything else. Someone with many birds they keep for a short period of time and replace every few years primarily to stretch the budget is in a very different position from someone to whom money is no object and has 4 or 5 that are truly just pets that happen to lay eggs.

My own opinion is to run electric properly to the coop if it is at all possible to do so. If you have outlets inside (covered because of dander) or even next to, you can change your mind and it is no big deal. It will be easy to rig up whatever you decide you need as your experiences dictate. You may want lights, heated waterers, or space heaters of various sorts. I would also consider making it just a bit bigger and taller so that you can stand up in it. In a cold climate there is a lot to be said for a shed arrangement with a portion of the interior divided off as coop space. The rest can store supplies, which you will then not have to drag though the snow.

I added a greenhouse run area to mine by enclosing the covered run area with greenhouse PVC panels. So now a screened off
portion belongs to the girls and they spend a lot of time in it- from there they can access their newly added outdoor run if I open the access door. It also houses my winter garden storage of tenderish plants in MY part (which the chooks cannot get at). I sort of ended up with a shed, chicken coop, greenhouse setup and ultimately wound up heating it athough it is still cold compared to the house. Oh- think about cleaning. It is easy to design 2x4 roosts that lift out and can be easily hosed off .
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Chicken Girl

11 Years
Dec 31, 2008
I live in Wisconsin and we have a heat lamp and a heater. we ceep them for laying and it helps for eggs! But i would think for a small coop insulateed and have a heat lamp or two! I have a 18x10 coop. I dont know how tall! LOL I have one bantam (she is a cochin) and she has been good all winter. She went broody in like Nov-Dec. So i think it was warm for her! ANd i have pics of my coop if you would like some PM me! Oh yeah and are coop is insulated too.

Chicken Girl

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Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
I'd suggest insulating heavily -- using 2x6's for the wall studs instead of 2x4's, and then filling *all* that stud space with insulation, will nearly double your walls' heat-retention ability! Insulate the ceiling too. (Leave ventilation openings, obviously -- make them closeable so you can decide which to open depending on the weather)

I'd also definitely suggest running electric out there -- if nothing else it will enable you to run a heated waterer/base but it will make it easy for you to add a lamp if you decide it is necessary on cold days.

A regular lightbulb will work fine (especially in a well insulated coop) unless you need HUGE amounts of heating; but it does not really matter in the design stage. You will just have to sort of play it by ear when winter comes.

A regular lightbulb is certainly safer than a heat lamp bulb (as well as kinder to your electric bill $$). But ANY suspended lamp-for-heating needs to follow the same basic safety precautions: mount it where dust and chickens won't get onto the bulb, always use the guard, suspend it from TWO DIFFERENT chains going from two different points on the lamp to two different structural points on the coop, so if one thing fails there is another preventing it from falling onto the floor and starting a fire; and make sure the circuit has sufficient capacity and thick enough wiring for the current draw you will be having. And then, use the lamp only when *necessary*, not just to make you feel good

Good luck, have fun,



11 Years
Aug 22, 2008
Roberts, WI
We live right outside the twin cities area in WI and our coop isn't insulated. We did have one heat lamp that ran at the coldest part of the winter this year and they did fine. There were a few nights/days that we put vaseline on our RIR hen's comb. All our others don't have big combs. They did fine. We did have to have electricity for the water heater. There was no way I could haul water out to them several times a day. Our coop is 8 X 10 and we had 10 chickens in there. We had two vent openings open all the time as well.


11 Years
Apr 9, 2008
Minneapolis, MN
My Coop
My Coop
You're going to get a hundred different answers to your question. Here's mine:

I'm in the Cities. My coop is 6x8 for 4 hens. It is fully insulated, both walls and ceiling. Four birds CAN NOT heat up a large space sufficiently and, for me, heat was mandatory. Your coop will be smaller, so that will be better for heat, but harder on the birds when they have to stay inside for a week at a time because it's -20. And venting will be more challenging in a small space.

I would recommend running electricity to your coop, or at least have it near an outlet so that you can get a cord to it. You're going to need a heated water dish unless you plan on changing the water out pretty much hourly, and honestly, who is going to do that?

I chose a 250 watt ceramic heat emitter for my heat source. Bought it on ebay, but they are also available at Petsmart in the reptile section. It's hard wired over the roost and operated by a switch. But I ended up leaving it on 24/7 this winter. The socket must be ceramic as it gets VERY hot. I blew the dust off it every other day. A ceramic bulb provides radiant heat, which heats up surfaces, not air. Even so, it kept the coop about 10 degrees warmer than outside, which is just enough to take the brutal edge off, but still not that wonderful when it's -20. And we both know how many days we had of that kind of cold this past season. When it got REALLY cold, I added an auxilary infared lamp for overnight. And yes, the threat of fire is very real, so consider your heat source carefully.

My only regret in designing my coop is that I didn't hardwire TWO light fixtures, both on switches so I could easily use the additional light when needed.

Ventilation will be important, so do a search - there's a TON of info on this site.

Feel free to pm me. There are a ton of us BYC folk here in MN, so you'll likely hear from many more. You can come over and I'll show you my coop if you're close by.

good luck and enjoy the process!


In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 27, 2009
I am a newbie but I am building a coop your size, for 6 hens. I was told 6 is the minimum to keep warm in winter. I am building it out of 2x4s with insulation (R13) between. All around - top and bottom, too. I am even insulating the door.
I put an outlet in there for now, that we made out of an outlet box and an old extension cord. It took all of 30 minutes to do, and now I can plug in 2 things should the need arise. I am planning on playing this by ear now that I know i can rig up a heat lamp or heater waterer in 20 minutes (using an outdoor rated extension cord).


11 Years
May 19, 2008
East Bethel MN
I agree with the other people when they say insulate heavily!!! especially for bantams. I am the poster child for what not to do on a coop, and have the crappiest one of all. We really didn't know of this site back when we slapped together a "makeshift" coop in a big hurry. All plywood and very poorly insulated. They made it winter before last with no problems but this winter was brutal and i ended up bringing them in the garage where it stays above freezing and still put 2 250 watt heat lamps in there for extra warmth. Hopefully my DH will build me that super shed he has been promising since the chickens have now taken over his "man cave" I am not one for giving advice in this department for sure but if ya wanna know what not to do just ask me lol


11 Years
Nov 8, 2008
Portage County, Ohio
Well!! I can't improve much on the answers you got already! Insulate and Ventilate!!! They don't need it to be WARM, Cold is fine, actually quite healthy for them, they just don't deal well with FRIGID! (or with drafts) But I do want to say....

Happy to meet you! Glad you're here!!
Hope you enjoy our company!!

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