Already worrying about the upcoming winter!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by bfcerny, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. bfcerny

    bfcerny In the Brooder

    Jul 1, 2010
    I built a 40 square foot coop over run house for my three girls. We used treated 2x6's on the top portion butted up against each other and secured. The bottom portion is hardware cloth. The top has two isosceles triangles that start off six inches wide and come together at a point after about three feet of steady angle. Hard to explain, but it looks like a three foot long skinny slice of pizza at the top on both sides sealed off with hardware cloth. This is for ventilation. As the coop has "aged" over the last 3 weeks the wood has shrunk by it's standard 1/4 inch. The gaps between the boards that were once butted up tight are now about 1/4 inch to 1/2 gaps. Nothing major barely enough for a fly to walk in between.
    Where I live, it is not uncommon to get wind chills down to 40 below zero with actual temp in the 10 to 20 below zero range. Last year we had a 56 below zero windchill. Here is my long overdue question....

    I plan to cover the "pizza slice" vents to retain heat in the winter time, I need to fill the small gaps between the boards for the frigid winter? I don't want to make it air tight because of the need for venting, but I don't know how "tough" my two RIRs and one Americauna are. Can I use that expandable foam stuff or just let it be? It is up against the house on one side, lattice fence on two sides and exposed on one side. It is also wired with one light fixture. I am already planning on running a heat lamp in the fixture over the winter.
    Anyone else have this type of bone chilling cold winter? What do you do????


    Here is a sketch up of the coop I built. Only difference is that there are no vents on the front. only the "pizza slices" on the side.

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2010
  2. True Grit

    True Grit Songster

    I know the kind of weather you're talking about. Since your coop isn't insulated I think you will want to plug the gaps but maybe you could add trim on the inside to do it so the chickens don't peck out the foam. It's nice that it's up against the house. Does that side face south? I think your two pie slices for ventilation will be fine for winter. I plan on putting my heat lamp on a "thermo cube" that turns it on when it's 35 degrees and off when it's 45. I am also going to wrap my run in plastic at least from the ground to 3 or 4 ft up to make a windbreak and gather some solar energy. I think with just the 3 chickies they won't have a problem with lack of ventilation. In my newbie opinion. Cute coop-very![​IMG]
  3. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member 10 Years

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    Definitely wrap your run in plastic. You can zip-tie a tarp to it, or you can staple-gun some other plastic dropcloth-esque material around it (you need pretty heavy plastic to stand up to winter cold and wind).
  4. Wolfwoman

    Wolfwoman Songster

    May 5, 2010
    Chickaloon, Alaska
    Before I had this batch of chickens I have now, I previously had six (yes, hard to believe, only six!). I knew nothing about chickens except they needed feed, shelter and gave me eggs. We lived in a cabin with no electricity at the time. The girls had a chicken wire pen stapled to trees and an upside down dog kennel top to sleep in...lots of straw and hay to snuggle in. They lived there for 2 winters and then we moved where we are now and lived another 3 winters... in another coop with no heat. So they can handle the cold. Their first two winters it was 40 below quite often, and that second winter... 30-45 below for 8 weeks straight. The last three winters were average 0-30 below at any given time. I wouldn't worry much about little cracks here and there...
  5. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    If the cracks between boards mean that cold air can blow in over your birds, then yes, I'd say you would need to close 'em up good. That's the very definition of the kind of draft you need to avoid.

    If the cracks are above the chickens' heads, then that's ventilation.
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Note that windchill is totally irrelevant to temps in the coop (unless it's WAY too drafty inside your coop! [​IMG]). What matters is ACTUAL air temperature outside; in your case, down to -10 to -20 (is that F?).

    Don't be covering the vents, except maybe on the *very* coldest nights -- that is how you get high humidity and frostbite. Well-chosen breeds deal a lot better with dry cold air than with humid less-cold air. You'll want the open vent(s) to be as far as possible from the roost, on the downwind side of the coop, and may need to rig up some kind of baffles to blunt the rate of air movement.

    For sure you will need to close up those gaps between roofing and wood, except *possibly* the ones most-far from the roost.

    It is good to put windbreak material on several sides of the run but do not be tempted to try to wrap the whole thing -- it will cause serious humidity and frostbite problems. Leave at least half of one side open, if not more. (On the usually-downwind side)

    If you have not seen my ventilation and 'cold coop' pages (links in .sig below) you might find some useful ideas in them.

    Good luck, have fun,

  7. tedabug

    tedabug Songster

    May 2, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    Don't know if you can get a cord to your coop, but I use their old brooder lamp with a 50 - 75W reptile bulb (purple to resemble moonlight) in the coldest weather. They all huddle under it at night. My coop has a big window in it so they still get daylight and night views. Seem to be OK with it!

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