Confused! Coop almost done, at crucial point! Some advice welcomed about ventilation and insulation.


Aug 21, 2015
Rochester, NY
Getting used to the new format......not working so well on iPhone App.

Anyway, heres some background. We live in Rochester, NY. Summers 80-90f+ and winters 0-32f with some brutal days of sub-zero windchills. We have 10 chickens, dual purpose breeds (Barred Rocks, Buffs, Wyandottes, Americaunas and a Speckled Sussex) they're still inside in a huge 5'x6 brooder nearing 8 weeks, running out of time and they need to get outside asap. Nights are still in the 40's too though.

Our coop is 8x12 with a 6/12 gable roof still in construction. We have 6 20"x30" windows (2 on front and back and 1 on each side) allowing ventilation on all sides and control depending on weather direction (they are placed high enough so that their roosts will be lower than the windows to avoid drafts in winter. We are planning on doing a 12"x14" gable vent on each peak side.

My thoughts with the coop are to look like a mini house and for the cleanliness of the look, plan to finish the interior walls and trim. With that in mind I battle myself on wether to insulate or not. Ive read the threads on here for yay and nay but still has not really helped me. I worry about their health and comfort in all seasons.

My biggest questions would be is what I have currently for ventilation enough?(still at a point to add more) and do I insulate behind those finished walls to keep the heat out in the summer and some heat in the winter. I will believing windows open in winter to an extent and get that most likely defeats the purpose of insulating.

Thanks in advance if your still reading this and can offer some help!
They will be fine in the summer the windows will work but winter on the other hand I would cover the windows then and put bedding all over the coop to keep heat in and also put a heat lamp in maybe a few if you feel that isn't enough
I would not bother insulating, causes more problems than it might solve.

Pics of coop would help assess ventilation.
Best case scenario is gable vents and open eaves with large roof overhangs and top hinged windows.
With that many windows plus gable vents you should be fine. If you leave the eaves open, even better. That will give you lots of options. Don't bother with insulation. Those breeds will be fine through winter. And you're correct. Ventilation will negate insulation.
Not sure of how much sun/heat you will have on the gable roof, but mine is a flat roof with metal roofing so it matched the house, and it generated allot of heat. Even if you are using "Shingles" i would suggest putting some type of insulation on/between/below the ceiling rafters, if it will have an actual "ceiling" like a house. On those swealting summer days with lil to no breeze, the heat will generate fast. Sidewalls i would not insulate at all, as others have said, you should be fine. I lucked out and someone gave me some 4'x8' sheets of 3" thick grey styro that i used..It was like night and day with the amount of heat it kept out of the coop.
You don't need insulation. The vents you have seem sufficient. As for heat, with the size coop you have, what you need is more chickens! A coop that size can handle four dozen birds comfortably and in winter, their body heat will do the rest.

If you ARE inclined to use a heat lamp, do make sure it is very well secured! I'd also recommend getting a 'thermocube' ... it will turn the power on to the heat lamp when temps did below 35 and turn off again when they hit 45. In the dead of winter it will be running a lot, though.
Howdy neighbor New Yorker. I'm twenty miles from the Canadian border in the Green Mountains not in the balmy Champlain Valley. I call it balmy by Lake Champlain as it adds a good 3 weeks to the grow season. Your by a Great Lake and experience an even greater warming effect. No insulation, no added heat is used here.

If you pop some holes along the soffits, just under roof overhang on sides for ventilation you can keep the windows closed in winter. The air will literally suck in those side vents, mix with the moist air of coop and push out the gable vents. It doesn't require a breeze as it's working via convection. A constant forced air flow from side wall soffits along top of coop and out the gable. No drafts and plenty of air exchange.

The birds can easily withstand the winter if you keep the coop dry and draft free. This basic venting system just like your home attic space, in soffits- out gable, will push the moisture in air out. If there is too much moisture in coop that's when birds get frost.
I'm in the Hudson valley of ny and I haven't used insulation or heat lamps for my birds in the winter... as for the chicks now they will be fine to go out now. I just put 7 week old chicks in with the flock last week and they are doing wonderfully
We had some uber cold nights here in TX where we got down to 20 degrees with a stiff wind. we were concerned about our girls freezing. chickens are tough animals and they just huddled together. Wouldn't recommend a head lamp. that can cook them.

i'd be more worried about they're crops freezing. for that rub vasaline on them.

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