coop doors and ventilation in winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kmoz, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. kmoz

    kmoz New Egg

    Feb 12, 2009
    Hi all,

    I'm currently working on plans my first coop, and wanted some input on how best to 'winterize' it for a southern canadian location. We're in a snow belt, so we get several weeks of -5 to -10 F (yes F not C!) weather. The coop be a tiny little thing, about 3x4 feet (just enough for 2-3 birds - the most i can legally keep with the wife [​IMG])

    I don't plan to heat the coop (except a cookie tin water heater in the winter). What's the best way to cover the coop door to minimize drafts while allowing chickens to come and go as they please? Towel, plastic car mat strips?

    Also, how do I allow proper ventilation in the winter without exposing the birds to a draft?

    My coop door will likely have to face into the prevailing wind (although I'll cover up one side of the run to block the wind, and the run will have a roof on it), but if the chicken door is open, and there are open vents at the top of the coop, how do you minimize drafts/keep the coop not freezing?

    thanks and sorry for small book,

  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Hi Kyle, welcome to byc [​IMG]

    It is really hard to winterize a small tractor-sized coop like that for Northern winters. Wintering chickens that way can be *done*, but it is very much not optimal for you or for the chickens either. So my first suggestion would be to see if you can possibly change your plans to something somewhat larger, both in footprint and volume.

    The difficulty with a tiny coop is that it actually needs MORE ventilation per square foot of floorspace than a taller coop does, yet there is hardly anywhere to direct the airflow that isn't blowing directly on the chickens and furthermore it is difficult to balance ventilation needs vs not wanting things to get too awful cold in there (especially since there *will* be some breeze on the chickens).

    If you absolutely must do a tiny coop, what I would suggest is this: build it inside a 6' high run, with a proper roof (designed to withstand your snow load), and then wrap at least 3 sides of the run in translucent plastic for the winter. Obviously you will leave some open for ventilation, but the idea is to get a *little* solar warmth during the day and to prevent the henhouse itself from being exposed to significant wind. You can bed the run with straw, dead weeds from the fall garden, that sort of thing to help keep the chickens' feet off the frozen ground which will remain mostly bare in there (tho some snow will infiltrate the open parts of the plastic wrapping)

    Having the coop inside of a mostly enclosed run during the winter is also about the only way to make feasible your plan of having the access door be on the upwind side of the coop. it will also take care of your issue about wind coming in the popdoor (normally, you would locate that on the downwind side, and erect baffles etc outside to keep wind from coming *straight* in, and some people hang burlap or etc in the doorway but this does require training the hens to go thru it).

    Then, put the roost at one end of the henhouse, and make your vent openings so that you can close 'em down and leave open only the opening(s) at the *opposite* end of the house. This will minimize cold breeze on sleeping chickens. You definitely want your vents rigged so you have infinite adjustability, with good weatherstripping so that when you want them closed they are *closed*.

    (e.t.a. - oh, and plan to insulate the coop, including the ceiling, with the insulation covered in something peck-proof)

    Does that sound possible?

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat, about an hour north of Toronto
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009

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