All opinions welcome...

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Sue d, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. Sue d

    Sue d In the Brooder

    I have a 4x8 coop for 5 pullets. I originally had 6 but one "she" turned out to be a "he" and based on my city's ordinances roosters are not allowed, so, rehomed he was. I opted for a 'larger' coop due to what I'd read about space requirements and also to help prevent picking, boredom, etc. I attached a run to it, which is 9x12, completely enclosed, roofed and very predator proofed. My question is, will the girls generate enough heat in the colder months to keep them warm, or, is their coop too large to maintain heat and if so, how can I help to keep them warm?
    I also have a space behind their run, which is about 30x 15 feet that they can also roam in, (that i block off) but due to my high prey dogs, they cannot free roam, so my next question is, are the combined 3 areas sufficient for the birds' daily needs?

    and yes, as you can tell this is all new to me! [​IMG]

    [​IMG] top pic is behind their coop/run. bottom pic their 'home'.
  2. Howard E

    Howard E Songster

    Feb 18, 2016
    Welcome to BYC!

    Where are you located? If not exact, approximately?

    Your birds will generate all the heat they need.........they come with feather coats, so combined with what you feed them....what you feed them is the fuel that stokes their furnace....... they can survive on their own nicely. In this, they are not that much different than wild birds. What matters is that their roost area be protected from drafts and winds to the point that feathers are not lifted and ruffled, while at the same time, open enough to provide good ventilation such that all the moisture they generate themselves is allowed to vent off. Tight closed up coops trap this moisture and CO2 become cold, damp miserable places for birds to be. Wide open coops vent it.......a good well vented coops tend to be dry.

    Your coop appears to be well ventilated. Depending on your climate, as is may be fine. If really cold and windy, and if the rock walls etc. surrounding it don't block off the wind, you may need to block off one side or two to deaden the air movement if it gets too wild, but generally, a setup like yours is much better than those that are too tight.

    Which way is south and in winter, will there be good sunlight hitting that area?
  3. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Crowing

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    Hokum Coco


    I am subject to -40º weather l live in Canada think North Pole. I have been keeping chickens and birds for decades.

    Your best practice I find is to not be too concerned about winterizing or heating your coop to help your birds combat the cold.

    Predator proofing "ABSOLUTELY".

    Your efforts should be spent in winterizing your birds and letting them acclimatize to their surroundings.
    This is done by feeding them whole corn if available as an added supplement in a separate feeder.

    The extra nourishment is more then adequate to bring them through the
    "COLDEST" winter.

    Do keep an eye open for birds that maybe not be adapting well to the new menu and may be at the lower end of the pecking order they can sometimes run into problems and may need extra TLC.

    That being said in a perfect world the flock will flourish and do just fine .

    I do not add any extra heat or lighting.
    Egg production does slack off but I have more than enough eggs for the table all winter long (24 hens).

    Some people may disagree with my method but it has worked well for me and I am not about to change.

    I look at it in the same light as winterizing your car.

    You really do


    have to winterize your car if you can keep it in a controlled environment at all times otherwise you are in for

    "MAJOR" problems.

    When it comes to lighting if you find you are short on eggs it does apparently help. I personally do not bother in my operation eggs are sold only to neighbours when they are available (if the sign is out I have eggs). Eggs in my operation have a tendency to crack and freeze during the winter months (we do not discard them and are fine but use them in house not for sale) the more eggs you produce during these months the more eggs will fall into this category.

    I have roughly 24 Golden Comet hens the longest I ever been out of eggs can be measured in hours >12<24. You will find that the egg supply in any hen is a finite resource the quicker you milk the eggs out of a hen the faster it will be spent and end up in your stew pot.

    On average one hen produces somewhere between 600 to 700 eggs in its life time. Lighting only effect the speed of delivery of the eggs which at the end of the day would amount to less than a year in the hens life is my guess

    If you do decide extra lighting is necessary have your light on a timer to lengthen the day "MAKE SURE IT IS SECURED BY 2 MEANS OF SUPPORT" one being a "SAFETY CHAIN" in case one fails especially if it is an incandescent bulb or heat lamp.

    I personally raise hens as a hobby; and for their manure to enrich my vegetable garden any thing else the hens provide is merely a bonus.

    Here is one BONUS NOW not many people can enjoy seeing in their back yard on a regular basis.


    Nest boxes
    In my nest boxes I fold a feed bag to fit (nest boxes are 1 ft³). When a bag gets soiled; fold a new one; pop out the soiled; pop in the new. Feed bags are a nylon mesh bag.
    Frozen poop just peels off in below freezing temperatures and just flakes off in summer when left out in the sun to bake and dry.

    I have 65 trips around the sun it is the best method I have stumbled upon.

    Make sure the twine is removed from the open end of the bag it can get tangled around your birds.


    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You might read my post (#4) in this thread. It could help you.

    It’s hard to get too specific without knowing your general climate. Modifying your profile to show general location can help a lot with questions like this. In general, heat is much more dangerous that cold for chickens. They really don’t need much help to handle what we consider cold temperatures. Wearing a down coat makes a big difference. You don’t need to heat the area they are in, you need to allow them to keep themselves warm.

    You have lots of room, more than many people on this forum. I’m an advocate of giving them as much room as reasonably possible but I think you are in great shape in that regard.

    Good luck! And welcome to the forum. Glad you joined us.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  5. Sue d

    Sue d In the Brooder

    thank you all kindly for the VERY informative replies! I'm very happy as well as appreciative to be reading such great feed back! the coop front faces south so hopefully with all the leaves gone some nice sun should warm them in the winter months and yes I did read the thread mentioned above, regarding ventilation. was curious about the differences as well. my coop has ventilation all along the top front and rear top made with a sliding 'panel-type thing' that opens and closes, which extends all along the width of the coop. pic attached. hopefully that should do the job sufficiently.

    thanks again. as mentioned chickens are very new to me but the experience as far has been hugely rewarding. I never knew what a magnificent species they are![​IMG]

    better view of the vent on top this is rear. front has the same type of slider.
  6. Sue d

    Sue d In the Brooder

    Peabody, MA and thank you for your reply
  7. Sue d

    Sue d In the Brooder

    HUGELY helpful! thank you kindly! :)

    guess I feel bad always leaving them enclosed, especially after seeing so many great pics of birds free roaming...
  8. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    I have an un-insulated, unheated coop here in northern Wyoming. My chickens have done just fine.As has been pointed out, ventilation is critical, especially during the winter. Mine also have a hoop run, which we partially cover with greenhouse plastic in the winter. Their pop door is open 24/7, so they can go between run and coop as they want. They are out there from the time the sun comes up until it's time to roost. I also let them outside on balmier winter days and they love it.


    Out on a warm winter's day....temps were up into the mid 20's the day I took these, I think.

    Winter cold, wind and snow don't affect them as much as the extended confinement of those very short days and long nights, so being able to get out into the run to stretch, scratch, dust bathe and get out of each other's faces is important. A good run accomplishes that pretty well, with some boredom busters thrown in.

    I even brood chicks out there - notice the brooder pen full of chicks on the left. Temps in the teens and twenties during the early spring but they do just fine with only straw and a heating pad cave. As far as I'm concerned, a good run so chickens can get out of the coop is essential, so glad that you have one. Mine are outside free-ranging much of the day during the warm months, but I love having a run too for those days I can't let them outside, am out of town and have a chicken-sitter, or it's pouring down rain.
  9. Sue d

    Sue d In the Brooder

    ^ what a great "set up" you have! (forgive me~not sure of the 'correct' chicken terminology) and your birds are just beautiful. Thank you for your reply. it's much appreciated. ...soaking this all in...
    Howard E, post #6 is for you. (should have quoted that) and Hokum Coo, # & is for you.
    thanks again all Ridgerunner=great read. TY

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