Advice/coop design to keep chickens happy in extreme cold (-20c to -40c)?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by rbrduck, Oct 14, 2015.

  1. rbrduck

    rbrduck New Egg

    Oct 14, 2015
    Hello all,
    I'm new and I'm wondering if any other members keep chickens throughout an extreme winter season. I found some other posts about keeping chicken in mild bellow freezing conditions, but I'm moving, and in the area I am moving to (Northern Alberta) winters vary tremendously; bellow freezing temps usually last Oct - April, and while avg winter temperatures are only about -15c, it can dip bellow -40 some nights, and even -50 on very rare occasions. It is also very windy.

    We are currently considering Icelandics, Chanteclers, Amerecaunas, and/or Sussex for a nice mix of eggs/meat/suitability. I'll definitely take breed suggestions, just note I like breeds that are active foragers, with good (winter) egg production, but also tasty meat.

    I want to avoid the suffocating death heaps, that seem to happen when they all pile up to stay warm. Also don't want the eggs freezing. In terms of heating the coop, without creating humid conditions, and running up an high electric bill, I'd appreciate some advice.

    I was considering, maybe setting up a small solar/wind bank (it is quite sunny and very windy year round), just for the coop; so I would be really interested to hear any ideas involving that. Then in terms of heating, should it just be a collection of heat lamps (would that be sufficient?), or would maybe radiant heat from the floor be better. I could put whatever it is on a thermostat, to turn on at maybe 5-7c?

    Thank you all ^_^
  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Welcome to BYC [​IMG]

    Providing a draft-free but well ventilated coop is vital in cold climates. Many of us believe that heating a coop is a bad idea - it increased moisture levels and seldom can keep the temp above freezing, so can make frostbite more likely when relatively warmer, moist air condensates and freezes on combs and wattles. Add to that the fire danger with many heat sources. In addition if the power goes out your birds will be plunged into severe subfreezing temps that they have not been acclimated to. Solar can be chancy, as on cloudy days you may not store enough energy to keep a heat source running all night.

    Piling deaths primarily occur in chicks and very young birds that are not yet mature enough for cold temps. Best to have adult birds only going into brutal winter weather.

    If you get hardy breeds bred for cold climates, all they need is protection from drafts, plenty of food to allow them to generate heat, and unfrozen water to keep them healthy.

    Eggs usually have to be collected several times daily in the winter to keep them from freezing.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place True BYC Addict

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    Welcome! I've seen pictures of coops built into hillsides for insulation too. Ventilation is really important, maybe with insulation in the roof and three side walls, and deep bedding on the floor. Check with other folks way 'up north', including Montana and North Dakota for ideas. Birds with little combs are best, as you've seen. Sussex hens are wonderful, although the roosters do have large single combs. Chanties will be super. Mary
  4. rbrduck

    rbrduck New Egg

    Oct 14, 2015
    Thank you everyone, that's good to know, and yes I will ask around at my neighbors once we are moved in. To see what the are doing to keep their birds healthy over winter.

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