chicken coop in cold climate

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lorim, Jul 11, 2010.

  1. lorim

    lorim New Egg

    Jul 6, 2010
    My husband and I will be first time chicken owners soon. We are in the process of designing a coop, loved the idea of a wire floor but we live in SE Wisconsin, cold and snow.
    Thinking about a coop on wheels so we can roll it into a pole barn for the winter...but I want to know if chickens can handle the cold and snow here or do they need to be get in during the winter. Plan to get Plymouth Rock and Australorp as they seem cold tolerant. We will insulate, wondering if putting a truck bed liner over the wire floor in the winter would keep them warm enough. Thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    [​IMG] Welcome to the forum! [​IMG] [​IMG] Glad you are here! [​IMG]

    I'm in a different climate and I don't do it that way. I'm having some problems visualizuing exactly what you are considering. Is there some way you could just build a permanent coop in the pole barn? Let me give you a couple of links that might help.

    Pat’s Winter Coop Temperatures

    Pat’s Ventilation

    Mine do not mind the cold that much. They do not like wind or walking in snow. Here is a shot of them in 8*F weather.


    Hope this helps a bit.
  3. Chic-Zebo Girl

    Chic-Zebo Girl Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 10, 2010
    Delton, MI
    We are new to this business too. We decided to insulate since we live in Michigan where it is quite cold in winter and hot in summer. We also have a covered aviary on one side of the gazebo so they can get fresh air in the winter and walk around without getting their feet frozen in snow.
  4. lorim

    lorim New Egg

    Jul 6, 2010
    thanks to everyone so far. We thought about putting the coop in the pole barn but I would not be able to keep an eye on them from the house, lots of predators here. Like to have the coop in the backyard spring thru fall. About 3/4 an acre they can forage on. we have 10+ acres but mostly wooded and they would be easy pickings for other wildlife if we leave them out that way.
  5. woodmort

    woodmort Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    I live in the western part of the Catskills and it gets pretty cold here as well (zone 4/5 depend on which map you check). The past 25 years I've overwintered 25 to 30 chickens in an insulated but well ventilated coop with no heat source other than the birds and their manure and they do fine. Real cold weather might slow down egg production but otherwise I've not seen any problems as long as I can keep the water from freezing. I've kept heavy weight birds--BR, RIR, NH, Wyndotts, EE/Araucanas and a couple of sex-link breeds. They even like to go out and wander around in the snow. The biggest factor may be the number of birds and the size of the coop--the closer they can stay and the less area they have to body-heat the better.
  6. Sweetfolly

    Sweetfolly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 17, 2009
    Kildare, Wisconsin
    Hi lorim! [​IMG]

    I just wanted to direct you over to the Wisconsin Cheeseheads thread here on BYC:

    of us from WI on there, always chatting away about our birds - you should definitely drop in sometime. [​IMG]

    Anyways, back to your original question - I'm by Wisconsin Dells, and ALL of my birds spend the winter in uninsulated plywood pens/coops that we built ourselves here. I've never lost a bird to the cold (and we had one night get to -16 degrees)! As long as they're protected from the wind, they're usually okay - and in extreme cold, you'll want to make sure combs and feet don't get frostbitten, and it's better to have a smaller area (or lots of birds), for body heat. [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2010
  7. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    We are new to chickens this year as well. Since we also get cold and snow, my husband built and insulated a tractor for them. If you go to my byc page, you will find pics of the tractor. So far it has kept fairly cool during this heat wave and has plenty of ventilation for all seasons. We move it every other day and have a moveable coop that we attach to it. We also made a floating skirt for the tractor because we have uneven ground. It works well and allows us to adjust it as necessary for each new spot. When it is time to park the tractor, we will put it on the south facing side of the house next to the kitchen stairs as there is an outlet there if we need it. The floor is solid on this thing and we will either attach a heavy tarp around the bottom or put hay bales around to block out the wind. Our tractor holds our 8 birds comfortably as he made sure to build it with 4 square feet per bird plus a little extra. Good luck and give them plenty of room!
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Since your coop will be smallish, I think that is an excellent plan, as long as the pole barn is plenty windowed or has an open side or such, so it is LIGHT enough naturally. In fact if you could put the coop near a large open doorway, where it would get direct sun for much of the day, that would be *perfect*.

    It would enable you to provide a nice sheltered out-of-the-direct-weather place for the chickens to hang out, so they spend as little time as possible actually IN the coop getting crabby at each other and thinking of disassembling each other. Also since it'd be out of the wind, it makes ventilation easier.

    My only two caveats are that I would not put them in a dim pole barn, and preferably not somewhere they won't get much if any sunlight; and you may not want to just give them free run of the pole barn because that is where weasels and raccoons like to overwinter TOO [​IMG] You might knock together some sort of large run-type area in there?

    Good luck, have fun,

  9. 33yardbirds

    33yardbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2010
    Southern New Jersey
    I would consider a better floor than wire, 3 to 6 inches of straw on the floor is a good insulater.

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