cold weather coop

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by klf73, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. klf73

    klf73 Mad Scientist

    Jun 1, 2008
    Does anyone have a list of recommendations/requirements for a coop that is good for Northeast winters?
  2. BJ

    BJ Songster

    Mar 20, 2007
    We used the foam insulation between the walls. We always use a heat lamp (not everyone here agrees on this). You also need to remember that you need to keep the water from freezing in the winter.
  3. mmajw

    mmajw Songster

    Jan 31, 2008
    I have a UV light bulb in there for the winter I dont run a heat light at all in the winter and they do great.
  4. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I'm not in the Northeast (but I bet I'm at a higher latitude & altitude [​IMG] ).

    Here's what I did - built a small coop, with about 10 square feet available per bird. Okay, that's not so small but one-half of this coop is open to the fresh air. It is covered by the main roof, has a board floor but is screened on 2 sides.

    Here's a more important "rule of thumb" than square feet: "Provide 3 cubic feet of air (total enclosed space) per pound of body weight for permanent indoor confinement quarters." These "digitS'" consider that a minimum but one really should consider air in the coop especially if it well-insulated.

    The other one-half of my coop is fully insulated - or, at least, the ceiling and all 4 walls have a stud frame and 4' fiberglass insulation. The floor is covered with pine needles throughout the year. One-quarter inch plywood sheaths the interior and exterior. The exterior siding is cedar board and battens. Because of its shape and ceiling height this room has only about 5 cubic feet of space per pound of hen enclosed.

    There's always been at least a pair of pigeons in with the hens but other than them & a forty-watt light bulb, all heat is provided by the hens. During severe weather, they will spend the entire day in their 25 cubic feet. But, it requires single digit weather to drop the interior air low enuf to freeze their drinking water. I can't remember their eggs ever freezing even in below zero outdoor temperatures [​IMG].

    edited to note: a 5 pound hen requires 15 cubic feet enclosed space, minimum. So my hens have about 25 cubic feet each.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2008
  5. GallowayFarms

    GallowayFarms Songster

    May 19, 2008
    I like the foam better than fiberglass insulation. We have mice down here, and those little guys love to tunnel through the walls if they can find a way in. So foam is less likely a home for those little guys.

    I use an oil heater that is electric. It is sealed so I don't have to worry about it catching fire. The little chicks huddle around it and it doesn't seem to burn them.

    Put a thermometer near the floor that is the best way to read the temp when it is cold. I have one with a remote sensor so I hang one at eye level and the other near the floor. It helps me when I have babies in my coop and it is cool in the spring so I know when to turn the heater on.

    I hope this helps.

  6. ravenfeathers

    ravenfeathers Songster

    May 23, 2008
    i think your only requirement is to have it be well-insulated, draft-free, and well-ventilated. the latter two may seem mutually exclusive, i know!

    i've read several posts on this forum advocating 2x4s as roosts instead of heavy doweling. that's so that they have their feet tucked under their bellies when it's cold and it's something i'm planning to do in my coop.

    the other requirement, of course, is less to do with the coop and that's to make sure their water isn't freezing.

    other than that, you can heat or not heat as you prefer, but i'd caution that heating your coop is all well and good until you lose your power and then your birds aren't acclimated to the cold. i'm not sure where you are in the NE, but here in the mountains of VT, we lose our power at least once a winter, sometimes for days at a time. i plan to insulate well with fiberglass and foam and give the birds a good, tight shelter. they can generate their own heat and that will save me on electricity, too.
  7. Chickafoog

    Chickafoog In the Brooder

    May 21, 2008
    We have a Red Heat Lamp!
  8. chickiebaby

    chickiebaby Songster

    Jan 2, 2008
    western mass
    the whole 'dont let the water freeze' thing is over rated and scares people off. If you get those cheap and eternally-lasting lcak rubber bowls at any feed store - my friend Mark has used his for over twenty five years! - then all you do if its partially frozen in the a.m. is kick it so ice breaks or spills, and refill it. Same thing at night. Its usualy just a coating of ice and I've seen the chickens peck right through it to get water, too.

    My chickens laid right through the winter, with no "heat source"; just a light bulb to keep the days long enough for laying. They're healthy and happy as can be, and survived this recent 100 degree, full humidity misery far better than we people did.

    That said, choose your breeds with your weather in mind. Don't get delicate cutesy breds, but those known to stand cold well. If you dont know, ask.

    I'm sure there are far more cold hardy breeds than just I would now about, so ask a more experienced person on this forum. But for sure: brahmas, nh reds, sussex, araucanas or their like, orps and australorps, rocks, wyandottes, hamburgs, all these have made it fine at my house.

  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    I think it's also really good to have ventilation that's adjustable, so you can have it wide open in the summer and closed down more in the winter. Windows are good for this, as are hardware cloth covered openings, with plywood doors. A chain and hook/clip/c-link works great for adjusting the door opening size.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: