coop design questions, insulation, etc

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by andreamunroe, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. andreamunroe

    andreamunroe Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 22, 2009
    Hello there!
    I'm new here (to the website, and also to the world of chickens!) and am looking for some coop advice.

    I am getting 4 chicks this year- 2 barred rock, 1 rhode island red, and 1 black australorp. I am hoping to make a moveable coop and run similar to this one: https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=10091-The_Nags_Head (I haven't yet calculated the square footage and that sort of thing, but I'll adjust the design accordingly if I need a bigger coop)

    I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. Our winters get pretty cold, down to -35'C (-30'F), and our summers get up to +35'C (95'F), although generally the temperature stays more in the -20'C (-4"F) range in the winter, and the +25'C (77'F) range in the summer.

    I am wondering about insulation. I am thinking of using rigid polystyrene foam board- we have 1" and 2" thick boards left over from insulating our attic/basement. I can cover the foam on the inside of the coop with some wood panneling that we removed from our den, so that the hens can't peck at it. My main question is: what thickness should I use? The foam has an R-value of 5 per inch. I could also use fiberglass batt insulation, but I was hoping to use the foam instead, as it packs a bigger R-value for the thickness (so I'll have more interior coop space, thinner walls, if I go with the foam). I will be insulating the walls and ceiling with the foam, and likely doing something to the floor, too- not sure if I will insulate under the floor, or use the deep litter method, or what.

    I am planning to buy/rig up some sort of water heater so that the hens always have access to water, and to convert the roosts to platforms (or wide roosts) in the winter so that their little toes don't freeze. From what I have read, it seems that the hens will tolerate cold temperatures pretty well, and will generate a fair amount of heat and huddle to keep warm in the winter.

    I am just not sure about the amount of insulation I should use, given my number of hens (4), and the size of the coop (in the link above). I am hoping not to have to provide a heat lamp except on the coldest of winter days/nights. In the wintertime, the coop will be right up against our house, on the south side. I was thinking about using a recycled window on the south side to let in some sunlight for some passive heating and light, though I know the R-value of windows is pretty low (maybe I'd have an insulated panel to attach to the window at night so I can make the most of the daytime sun but then conserve heat during the night)

    Sorry for being so long-winded, but I figured you could provide me with more suggestions/advice/tips if you had the details!

    Thanks so much in advance for your help!

    Andrea
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi and welcome to BYC [​IMG]

    Quote:I'm not sure 1" vs 2" insulation will make a huge difference in the chickens' life, but for a small tractor like this I think I'd use the 2" as making it *very slightly* easier to manage the thing during wintertime. Realize that small reach-in coops like this are NOT great for cold winters -- you can make it more or less work if you have to, but having 'proper' winter quarters (in a shed, barn, garage?) would be a whole big lot better. It is real hard to balance ventilation, temperature, and not having drafts pointed at the chickens when you have a short coop with small air volume.

    Deep litter, in the true sense of the term, is not an option in a structure like that.

    convert the roosts to platforms (or wide roosts) in the winter so that their little toes don't freeze.

    Just use the wide side of a 2x4, that's quite adequate (for year-round, in fact) [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  3. andreamunroe

    andreamunroe Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 22, 2009
    Thanks for the reply, Pat!

    Do you have any other suggestions for a more suitable winter coop? Unfortunately we don't have a shed/garage or the money to build one at the moment. I was originally thinking of just having an arc-type chicken tractor for the summer (like those small A-frame ones that I could move around the yard), and then a stationary coop for the winter. Maybe I could build a stationary coop that was a bit bigger and better designed for the winter, but I am worried about predators with the arc chicken tractor- there are lots of cats and dogs in our neighbourhood, and an old dilapidated shed 2 doors down that has a family of raccoons living in it (I don't even let my cats out at night). Would it be advisable to use the small arc chicken tractor in the daytime and then move the hens into a stationary "winter" coop every night (to keep them safer from predators), or would that be stressful on them? I would rather not just have a coop with a stationary run, because I really like the idea of letting the hens forage on fresh grass, and keeping the mud/smell challenges to a minimum.

    Any suggestions you have are definitely appreciated! I'm a total newbie, and want to start off on the right foot.

    Thanks!
     
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Whatever turns up on craigslist or freecycle or local classified ads or local farm auctions, between now and November? [​IMG] Or, build something with scrounged materials (talk with guys at construction sites, companies that get things in packing crates, etc etc -- there are a lot of BYCers who've made quite nice coops out of found or very-cheap stuff)

    Would it be advisable to use the small arc chicken tractor in the daytime and then move the hens into a stationary "winter" coop every night (to keep them safer from predators), or would that be stressful on them?

    Sure, lots of people use 'day tractors' -- it's not stressful on the chickens, they get used to it real fast (I've done it for a few weeks at a time, and mine did fine), it's just a bit more work for you, since you have to move either the chickens or the tractor twice a day [​IMG]

    I would rather not just have a coop with a stationary run, because I really like the idea of letting the hens forage on fresh grass, and keeping the mud/smell challenges to a minimum.

    Well, remember that you will not be able to move a moveable coop during about 5-ish months of the year due to weather, so wherever its run is parked at that time, they WILL reduce it to mud no matter *what*. (But if you toss in a bale of straw or some dried leaves or whatever like that, they will be fine and it won't get uncleanably nasty)(Although it will more or less kill the grass). So there may not be as much difference between the plans as you might be thinking.

    They can forage their hearts out in a stationary run, you just have to bring the forage to THEM, i.e. chuck them all your (nontoxic) garden weedings and veg trimmings and kitchen surplus and maybe a bale of alfalfa hay now and then, that sort of thing. Makes good compost too [​IMG]

    Not necessarily trying to talk you out of a tractor totally, just pointing out that it is not always June [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     

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