Coop prep for extremely cold climate

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Solsken Farm, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. Solsken Farm

    Solsken Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    For those of you who live in the artic tundra, what are you doing/have you done to keep your birds healthy and comfortable in the dead of the winter. The coldest 3 months might not be above 0 degrees, with many nights getting down into the negatives, as far down as 35 below. Add the windchill and it is dang cold.

    Do you use some type of heater? Do your larger comb roos have frostbite? Do you use heated waterers of some type? What do you feed them in addition to their normal food.

    We will have about 40-50 birds in a 12 by 18 coop. I have done some insulating, esp on the north and northwest ends. I am planning on extra shavings for added insulation.

    I love winter, but sometimes the windchill is just ridiculous.....[​IMG]
  2. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    To help cut down on the windchill my husband lines up big round bales along the north sides of my coops.
  3. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    I'm in NJ which I know is warm compared to northern Maine but it sure feels cold in winter anyway! My coop is insulated (walls have non-formaldehyde insulation, all covered so they don't peck at or eat the stuff), nice thick layer of pine shavings on the floor and on shelves they like to sleep on or hang out on, and there are ceramic heat lamps for really cold days - they are suspended such that they can't touch anything. I also have disk furnaces for the larger building the coop resides in. I know a lot of people don't do all this but my feathered friends sure do seem more comfortable if temps are kept above freezing. I only have 2 so that's another factor - - they don't have the benefit of lots of bodies to help keep them warm. I also give them warm treats on really cold days - e.g. warm butternut squash.

    Last edited: Sep 21, 2008
  4. Solsken Farm

    Solsken Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    That's a great idea. We used to do that along our sills on the northside of the house. Square bales would work well on our coop. I am going to do that. Thanks.

    Here is our main coop. This salt box design makes sense as the north side is the very low side. We have nice southern exposure. You are looking at the east side.

  5. Solsken Farm

    Solsken Farm Chillin' With My Peeps


    When you say ceramic heat lamps. Can you elaborate on what those are? I don't get alot of help from dh on my coop, but he has agreed to run some electricity. If I have a not too grandiose electric plan for him, he might go for these. After 6 months he is finally starting to warm up to the chickens.....[​IMG]
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I'd say you will definitely need a heated waterer or water base - it would be nuts to try to keep that whole coop above freezing [​IMG] Lamp hung above waterer is not as good as heated waterer or base, being as how heat rises.

    THe more insulation you have the better. My chickens are in a roughly 15x40 building with well-insulated 6" stud walls, a well-insulated ceiling, and a concrete slab, and honestly it does not normally get very cold in there. The past couple winters it has not gotten below about 20 F (in fact last winter I think the low was about 28 F), although it may be a bit colder this time since there will be run doors open (but I want to hang plastic strips over them). (edited to add: we are not AS cold as you are, but still fairly cold - a typical year's low temp would be about -25 F, and it is normal to stay below 0 F for weeks.)

    Deep litter on the floor helps too, both as insulation and as something for the chickens to snuggle down into if they're feeling cold (or bored)

    Good luck,

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2008
  7. jjthink

    jjthink Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    Quote:Hi Jennifer. Sure. It's like a light bulb but is made out of ceramic - produces only heat, no light. I've gotten them at stores like Petsmart, in the section for reptiles. They come in different wattages like 125, 250... and they are screwed inside a metal shade that is connected to the electrical cord.

    Crucial to suspend in a way that they can't be knocked down and don't rest against anything. And I suspend them high enough above the birds that they don't feel like they are getting broiled! You can experiment with how the heat feels from different heights and make it adjustable with well attached bungie cords.

    With a small coop (4x6x8 high) they make a huge difference- the water didn't freeze even when not near the water. In a larger coop, you might have ceramic heat lamp or lamps suspended above roosts or wherever else the birdies hang out and follow Pat's suggestion re: keeping the water from freezing.

    With my ceramic heat lamps I am forever watching temps to make sure it's not too hot, not too cold (I can switch on none, one or more accordingly) but some folks have connected a device that regulates all this by automatically turning them on and off at certain that I would like to have!

  8. Sparks

    Sparks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2007
    We turn our roosts into shelves for the cold weather. They keep their feet warmer. Also put straw bales 2 high on each side of the pop door to deter the cold wind. Deep litter method inside. When it is below zero we turn on a low watt light, have a heated water dish and they usually get extra scratch in the evening to keep them warm and warm grits, oatmeal or another grain in the a.m. They can tolarate the cold better than the heat I have found. Keep plenty of bodies in the coop, you will be surprised how warm they are! I also collect leaves in town to spread over the snow in the run. I pick up a couple of dozen bags. They also like to scratch through them in the winter. Hope this helps!! We made it through the coldest, and most snow last year. First year for us![​IMG]
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    We insulated and draft-proofed the coop, details in the link below.

    We don't plan to heat the coop, though we kept our brooder lamp in there so we could change out the bulb to extend daylight in winter, or use it if we had a prolonged cold spell of -25C (happened once before).

    We'll use only the pop door at that time of year and keep the big door between the coop and run closed. If we get a deep freeze we can keep the girls in. We have platforms indoors and out. The outdoor one, along with hay bales, allows the girls to exercise even when we have snow. We're considering snow boards around the base of the roofed run.

    We'll use an electric heater base under a metal waterer, already purchased, and line the nests well for the girls when they are setting. Oh and keep the litter deeper at that time of year and use more bales of hay for step-down platforms to baffle cold air flow and reduce the air volume, making it easier for their body mass to heat the space.[​IMG]



    Last edited: Sep 21, 2008
  10. Solsken Farm

    Solsken Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Gosh, I forgot I posted this and saw some great ideas that I had missed.

    I do plan to go ahead and get the heated water bases. There goes another chunk of change. These eggs are getting more expensive every day.

    Other ideas? Has anyone tried any kind of fabric over the pop doors to cut down the draft?

    I don't know how I am going to get everything done I need to do before snowfall and freezing temps!

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